Friday, 25 January 2013

Early morning at the QE

Suburban sunrise
It was still early, as I walked across from the relatives' accomodation to the hospital. The sun just rising.

In the hospital there would be bustle and silence, clean corridors and Costa Coffee. In the hospital, there would be decisions and choices, hope and heartache.

In the entrance area, a man stands in his soldier's uniform, with his trousers rolled up to his knees. Bionic man. Artificial legs on proud display I look up at his face - so badly scarred. Maybe not bionic after all. Just talking and laughing with his friends.

All these things still to come when I pass through the doors;

meanwhile -
these trees, this sunrise.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Tides and sun

Tides table Tuesday 22 January
All day and all night and everywhere,
the tides come in and go out,
the sun rises and sets,
the moon rises and sets,
over and over again.
Foolish to think we're in charge,
to imagine we somehow control
this world. A world that
goes on
rising and falling.
Setting and rising.

Monday, 21 January 2013

True winter

5pm looking out over Carrig
Snow. Ice. Cold wind.
Empty space where someone once was.
Thoughts muddle in those left.
Music on the radio.
Cooking in the kitchen.
The stove lit, warming the house.
True winter.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

With dignity and respect

Sunrise in the air
My mother and my father find themselves, unknowingly, in the same hospital, she on one ward, he on another, the hospital itself a stone's throw from the maternity hospital where my eldest was born. She was born shortly after my parents' divorce, things were tricky. Visits had to be carefully managed. Not so easy, pre mobile phone. There was a payphone in the corridor of the maternity ward. It was much used, so you often had to hover and wait, anxiously leaving your new scrap of life in her plastic sided cot. Using coin after coin, I made the necessary calls to co-ordinate their visits appropriately.

Mama came with her sister, Ciocia Janka; two buses, and a long walk each way. Tata came with Bozenna, carrying a big bunch of pink helium filled balloons proclaiming "It's a girl!". Looking carefully for the right ward, they completely failed to notice they were in the wrong hospital until they walked onto the Oncology ward.

And now they're both within the same building, the brand new hospital replacing the old one, with strangers tending to their most intimate needs. Childlike in their needs now, as we all are, really, beneath the skin. I wonder if now, after all these years, they ever think of their early days together. Think of the first pull towards the other. And I wonder about pulling towards and pushing away, and the trickiness of connection.

And I'm thankful for kind strangers, who make a difference by treating them carefully, with dignity and respect.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Tell me

In the air at 8am
Tell me,
who's minding you today?
Who's making sure
you sleep when you're tired?
Preparing good food?
Being kind.
Who's listening
to the animal inside
and tending it's needs?
Are you?

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The barber

When I was very small, my father would put a bottle of milk into one pocket and a nappy into the other, and off we'd go. I'd sit in the front seat of the Zephyr, right next to him on the bench seat. The culture of wearing seat belts had yet to be invented. We'd go the the barber on Stoney Lane. I'd sit, enthroned, in a big barber's chair, while my father waited his turn. Short back and sides, and a Brylcreem finish. The barber would cut my fringe. We went to other places too, but what I remember best is the barber's shop, with the striped pole outside, the chairs in a line facing the mirror, the room full of men and chat. And feeling safe, and knowing this manly world was benign, and meant me no harm.

Friday, 11 January 2013

In 2033

In 2033,
we'll be listening to the
music of the 10's,
we'll be remembering
the good old days,
when things were simpler,
and we were younger,
back in 2013.

Thursday, 10 January 2013


I wake to an empty house.
One brother's in prison;
the other has moved to Leicester,
to move fridges, and study;
to better himself.

My mother's not here.
She went to a party last night
and didn't come home.
I don't know where she is,
though I can guess.

I go through the motions,
go through the emotions,
then through the motions again,
Emotion - less.

I get a bowl and a spoon,
pour cereal, milk,
lean my book against the
half empty bottle of milk,
and sit.

Notice I don't mention my dad?
He might be in Cornwall,
or maybe Penhros,
or just two miles away
in his flat.

In other houses, other teenage girls
will sleep till eleven,
be hauled out of bed
to breakfast, to mass,
to help.

I stare into Sunday
through my book.
The curtains are yellow
and faded. The house
is quiet.. 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Doorway in the old part of Wexford town
At first glance, everything looks fine.
When you look closer, you see how crooked everything is. No right angles. A door adapted to fit an opening that moved maybe a hundred and fifty, maybe two hundred years ago.

It doesn't have to be perfect.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Between four and seven

I'd forgotten the difference between four and seven, until Annabel came to stay. Four to the core. With her questions needing my presence. Not to be me; just to provide the buffers for her imagination to bang against as she explores the boundaries of her world.

By seven, it's all more refined, more specific, the questions more of a challenge. A requirement for YOU, and no one else will really do, confronting everything you say, making a place in the world.

But Annabel's quite happy to pull out all the old soft toys, and line them up at the end of the bed. She needs another cat. Why isn't there another cat? And why do we have two cats and two dogs? And sometimes mommy makes me supper before bed.

So, after toast and butter ( no jam - I HATE jam!), it's time to race about, and scare the dogs, and pull out all the toys until finally, finally, maybe, it might be time for bed.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The routine of our restrictions

Just what would I do, if I had no constraints, and could begin all over again? 

So much of our comfortableness in our lives seems to lie in the routine of our restrictions. 

And if there were no restrictions? If this moment, you could wake up anywhere on the planet, doing anything, being anyone you want to be - 

where would you be?

who would you be?

what would you do?

Check out the challenge posed in the link below:

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Oxford, 4 Feb, 1983

I stop and stare in wonder.
7.45am, and the sun, a red orb of blazing fires,
Lifts itself painfully from behind the trees.
The fields are white.
The trees are white.
The cold bites deep into my face,
Salt stinging from sweat and tears.
Suddenly stopping on a bridge
High above the water,
Level with the treetops,
I know this is a moment to be remembered.
A vague mist rises from the water,
The sky crystal clear,
The sun a bloated red balloon
Hanging, pregnant behind the bare trees.