Tag Archives: loss

Double helix

guanine

Genetic code
your gift to me
arranged by spindles
woven to a whole

GTCACTGATAGC

thymine

Though genes alone
are never enough
to explain what defines me
indelibly your daughter

GTCACTGATAGC

cytosine

Created from you
though my eyes be green
yours deepest brown
can a smile be found in our DNA?

GTCACTGATAGC

adenine

Absent now
your double helix
dances still
your gift to me

GTCACTGATAGC

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Bauble

unwrapped with reverence
released from a tissue cocoon
globes of gold, green, silver and crimson
an incongruous orange fish

shimmering paint
worn away in places
to reveal translucent glass, light as air
aged patina, witness to many a Christmas

heirloom baubles
one by one they are hung with care
suspended, fragile but commanding
memories in perpetuum

————

nestled in the ashes and charcoal
skeleton of the festive tree
metal limbs in defiance to inferno
fearsome survivor of family celebration

but the baubles are vaporised
fuel of a conflagration
perhaps their pigments invoked Christmas cheer
in the middle of the furnace

————

garish plastic orbs, in silver and purple
chosen by others
adorn a new tree in a different world
ugly reminder, a bitter season

soon they are jostled
by paper chain, patty pan bells
pie tin ornaments
glass stars sent from afar

a festive focal point
for renewed commemoration
after which the baubles are
reverently wrapped

The moment of loss

I thought I would share with you, dear reader, the reworked poem Vigil, in a previous life known as You leave again. Initially the idea was to explore the notion of repeated loss relating to one individual – in my case, my mother. However, I felt that the original version of the poem did not convey this adequately and the agenda was overtaken by the power of the moment of death. Since I don’t have sufficient skill to tackle both subjects successfully in the one poem I edited You leave again to focus on the days leading up to her death. However, I hope that Vigil still indicates that grief is coloured by our previous experiences. And so, the 29 year old woman finally holding her mother’s hand is also the 8 year old child who watched as her mother left – suitcase in hand. She is simultaneously woman and girl and at the moment of her mother’s death feels forsaken, longing for the comfort of her mother. But the mother, too, is the small bereft child – the adult daughter recognising her mother’s grief – a moment of understanding. Writing this poem has been absorbing. It has taught me much – allowed me to reflect, to ponder. In focussing on my overwhelming desire to hold my mother’s hand, the poem also points to the need to feel connected. To feel as one with her as she died in a way that perhaps I couldn’t when she was alive – despite our intense love and friendship. Perhaps that 8 year old child in me was frightened to get too close to her lest she disappear again – but held her hand as she sat and watched her die.

Vigil

I cannot hold your hand

I sit beside your bed   tubes   machines   monitors
All so familiar   but you are not
Your bloated face is not the one I crave
Your sparkling eyes closed   your voice silenced

Grown woman    young girl
The girl you left   the woman you leave
A small child   bereft   longing
Contained in a woman’s body

I cannot hold your hand

Left swathed in bandages   white as the skin inside your wrist
De-gloved the morbid medical term for your injury
In your right    an arterial line shouts you are alive

The grown small woman child
The girl you left   the woman you leave

Days pass   a seated vigil   remembrance
I speak to you   your eyes are closed
Face a mask   I cannot hold your hand
There is only hope    there is none    I hope

I sit and hold your foot     you would scream
Laugh   kick me away   if you could

The phone rang incessantly
There were only two calls
With the second ring
Your pupil   fixed   dilated

I scream and sob and run and cry and I cannot hold your hand
You are having a CT scan and I cannot hold your hand
Your skull can no longer contain your precious mind
You are dying   you are dead but for machines

I cannot hold your hand

The grown small woman child
The girl you left   the woman you leave

I cannot hold your hand and you are dying
I say fuck the arterial line
Bandages   white as the skin inside your wrist
I am touching it now

I am holding your hand

You leave again

This poem has taken weeks to write and has been fairly mercilessly edited for the past few days. It will most likely require more editing but, for now, I’m fairly happy with it. It is raw and emotional. I make no apology.

 

You leave again

The phone rang a second time   and with it I lost you
Finally, irrevocably gone   you had not left yet
You had left before   it would not be the last time

With its first ring   the last Act but one began
Did this penultimate Act begin with that first ring?
Or before?  When I lost you again
A Mobius strip

The phone rang incessantly
There were only two calls

I cannot hold your hand

Grown woman    young girl
The girl you left   the woman you leave
A small child   bereft   longing
Contained in a woman’s body

I sit beside your bed   tubes   machines   monitors
All so familiar   but you are not
Your bloated face is not that of the mother I crave
Your sparkling eyes are closed   your voice silenced
Tenacious   you are still here

I cannot hold your hand

Left swaddled in bandages   white as the skin inside your wrist
De-gloved the morbid medical term for your injury
The arterial line in your right wrist    tells me you are alive

I cannot hold your hand

The grown small woman child
The girl you left   the woman you leave

Days pass   a seated vigil   a remembrance
I speak to you   but your eyes are closed
Face a mask   I cannot hold your hand
There is only hope    there is none    I hope
I sit and hold your foot   and know that you would scream
Laugh and kick me away   if you could

The phone rings for a second time
Your pupil is fixed   dilated
I scream and sob and run and cry and I cannot hold your hand
You are having a CT scan and I cannot hold your hand
Your skull can no longer contain your precious mind
Escaping blood

I cannot hold your hand

You are dying   you are dead but for machines

I cannot hold your hand

The grown small woman child
The girl you left   the woman you leave

You stood there with your bag packed   you left
Did I say goodbye?  Did you?
A small child   bereft   longing
Did I say goodbye?  Did you?

I cannot hold your hand and you are dying

I say fuck your arterial line
Bandages   white as the skin inside your wrist
I am touching it now

I am holding your hand

Return

Sweaty hands are on the wheel
Gripping tightly
And yet they seem
Not a part of

Me

A red band circles my wrist
My passport home, it identifies me
Allows my return
Where others are

                    Forbidden

Home
A restricted place
Crime scene
A place of destroyed

       Lives

Past the roadblock
Solemn faces, pursed lips
Flashing lights
Harbingers of

Doom

Black tarmac winds up the hill
And appears, at first
Familiar, reassuring
I am going

   Home

And then as I round a bend
A black line
Demarcation
Path of the

   Inferno

Past smoldering trees
Blackened men
Wielding chainsaws
Clearing the road for safe

    Passage

First of the cars, burnt wrecks
Where I had earlier driven
Some with ribbons
There had been no

Escape

Climbing further
Moving ever so slowly
Ghostly forest
Blackened poles standing in

                         Ash

And then it was green
A verdant oasis
An island
Normality surrounded by

Chaos

Impossible to comprehend
My own home
I knew destroyed
Yet so many

         Unharmed

Almost insulting
A derelict house
Fallen down shed
Still standing

  Defiant

Out of the oasis
Another world
Complete destruction
Amongst it my

Home

A last right turn
A country lane
So altered
That I almost drive

         Past

A neighbour’s pony
Lies on the road
Charred hooves
Mouth in a deathly

      Rictus

Heart hammering
Breath shallow
Thoughts whirling
I approach the

         Threshold

Heart
Breath
Thoughts
All of them

  Pause

Before me
Mud brick walls, strangely intact
Roof lying
Where the floor used to

 Be

Among the debris
Twisted birdcages
Occupants
Evaporated by the intense

    Heat

Familiar objects now
Ghostly apparitions
Melted windows
Car wheels now modern

 Sculpture

Piles of acrid ash
Charred wood
Blanket the ground
Obscuring all that could be of

Value

And then
Unable to withstand
Any more
I cross the road to say

  Hello

Climbing the drive
Trees still smoking
On either side
I can hardly see for my

Tears

Our neighbour’s home
Still proudly standing
Testament to the fight
Of three brave

     Men

And one of those men
Greets me now
And calls my dogs
To welcome me

  Home

He tells me of
Those things
That I must hear
But would rather

  Not

Together we cook
Pasta, tuna sauce
And eat all together
As though we are

Home

Sooty dogs are in the car
Farewells have been said
The engine is running
But I don’t want to

  Leave

Storytelling

I will build a town, with houses and people - a mummy and a daddy and a boy and a brother and train tracks and a train and the road with cars and a cow and trees. And the cow was on fire and the train went on fire and the man went on fire. I put the fire out and then checked that everyone was OK. The cow was OK. The train was OK and back on the track. The man was OK, he has been in hospital for a long time now. He can come back home with the mummy and the boy and the brother. Everyone is OK now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh the stories you tell
My little boy
Of death, destruction and
Fire
And yet
Always, but always
The boy and the brother and the mummy

            And the daddy

Are OK

And we are, in a fashion
But not in the way

You would like us to be

My little boy

And the house and the cow
Are OK

But they are not

My little boy

And you know this, my love
But the stories you tell
Those elaborate fables
Are your wish fulfillment
Your storytelling
A way to cope
My little boy

And so it is mine