Thursday, 28 February 2013

Wounded Nation

What's swirling in the depths?
A pink teapot. Yes, and
following close on it's tail,
a giraffe, stretching its neck,
to feast on the sweet,
sharp shoots of recovery.
The surgeon's done his work.
All's set for healing, if only
the patient had faith.
Meanwhile, he sits, and
licks his wounds.
Wounded nation.

Mr. Worry

Here's Mr.Worry arriving at 1.57am.
He's carrying a big sheaf of papers, labelled "things that must be done".
He's carrying a big stick to beat me with. Baseball bat shaped, the stick's engraved, running down it's length there are phrases like "should do better", "not enough" and "you're to blame".

Mr.Worry bats me gently, experimentally at first, then sensing that I'm his tonight, throws the papers in the air over my head and sets to beating me in earnest. He nearly wins. I'm all set to get up and switch the laptop on, spend the rest of the night working, when a spark of resistance arrives. I'll write these words instead.

I'm tempted to grab his bat and beat Mr Worry out of the room, when I realise he's frightened, not bad. I'll make him a cup of tea, and bring him back to bed, and maybe together we can rest until morning.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Men who run

Men who run
are everywhere,
leaving wives,
leaving children.
Why do we choose
these men who run?
Why pick them,
to father children,
who are left fatherless?
The men who would stay
seem - bland,
unfamiliar. So -
we choose
the chaotic,
the entrancing,
the men with dancing eyes,
and fast words,
and fast feet;
the men who run.

Monday, 25 February 2013

fragments of bone

Skeletons and fragments of bone.

Something gathering; heavy, cloying.

All these needs, all these musts.

And pink tipped mountains at daybreak.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Hospital Chapel

Sitting in a circle, a small group of people. Mostly women, two men. Mostly patients, the chaplain, two volunteers, and me. Twelve people in all. I sit beside my mother for this multi faith service. She's managed to walk, with the aid of her frame, to the lift, and down one floor to the chapel. We're there less than an hour. This is what I learn.

The man in the grey tee shirt and grey tracksuit trousers, the one who looks as if he's in his late thirties, or maybe early forties: he had a stroke. A stroke that stopped his life in a moment to land him here, facing into a slow recovery.

The woman in the wheelchair opposite me, with the purple trousers -  was in intensive care five weeks ago. She'd never a day of ill health in her life until then. She's had a tough week. She's felt like giving up. But she's got through it (with the help of the people who work there, the skeleton crew left behind after the cuts) and she knows she will walk again, she just has to keep trying.

Maureen, in the wheelchair to my left: I can barely understand what she's saying, but she want to speak, she has things to say. She's been here for months. She tells us she's going home on Tuesday, and lifts her thin arms together in front of her in a victory "yes"!. And my mother whispers that she has no home to go to, that her house has been sold. I'm not sure what's true, but the chaplain prays for her to be happy in her new home when she leaves, wherever that may be.

A couple of people just sit quietly, say nothing. The woman immediately to my left weeps silently at intervals. One woman has a deep indentation across her skull, almost like dough pushed down with a spoon. But she says that she'll come next week; and the chaplain pauses and says she'll have to check if there is a service next week - there may not be.

Between the hymns and the readings, the chaplain tells of her ten housebound years, trying to raise children when she could barely open a door, let alone dress them or cook for them. And of the small miracles that happened when she reached the point of lament: "what can I do? How can I care for these children?" Answers arrived. People arrived with real help.

We sing three hymns accompanied by the cd player, and a fourth by the accordion played by one of the volunteers. There are tears. There are voices sharing words.

Towards the end, the chaplain brings forward a bowl, a glass bowl, full of water, full of coloured pebbles. Each pebble has been placed into the water by someone, by a hurting person looking for solace. For themselves. For a loved one. People suffering, people in despair, people in anguish. People hurting. The water holds the pebbles, the bowl holds the water, the chaplain holds the bowl and we all hold the space around the bowl in our circle of twelve.

Everyone who is there as a patient just wants to go home. Just wants the simple, everyday luxury of sitting in their own chair, watching their own tv, boiling their own kettle. This is a room full of humanity, full of courage and despair. And suddenly, I'm glad to be in this room, glad to feel these tears arrive.

Tonight, when I've driven to the ferry, and crossed over the Irish Sea, and arrived home to my own house, where I can sleep in my own bed, I'll take a glass bowl. I'll fill it with water, and find a coloured pebble. I'll carefully place it into the water. And I'll open myself to a larger holding.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Animals escaping

Animals escaping into the snow.
Naked in the water,
Swimming for my life,
Swimming hard,
Into a dead end.
This is the end.
And then the animals,
Escaping into the snow.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Lazy river

Maybe life is less like a river, and more like a lazy river. You know. Where you slowly go round and round, but always end up where you started. Not a path from here to there after all. But a gentle curve taking you right back to the start.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Something lifts

A train far away says "wooh wooh".
Only two trains a day on that line.
It's almost light and it's almost spring.
Birds singing. A cacophany.
And something lifts. Too soon
to say what's lifting. Something lifts.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Wart Stone

The Wart Stone
This boulder sits by the side of the road, a short distance away from my house. When we first moved here, our neighbour, May Connolly, who has lived here for over sixty years, told us that this is a Wart Stone. The small indentation in the stone fills with water, and it was traditionally believed that if you have a wart, and bathe it in this water, it will go away.

The indentation is a perfect sphere. It's a beautiful stone, and easy to see how it could be interpreted as a healing place.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Space to breathe

Too Much
Sometimes the world feels like "too much". Too hard to do everything that has to be done. Too hard to be responsible and keep everyone happy.

Then I remind myself;

No one's happiness depends on me except my own.

I can only do what I can do.

I can make space to breathe, space to just be in this world.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Snow, wind, sun

8.40am at Slanelough

Extreme weather. Everything at once.
Snow in the morning, then bright sunshine all day.

Live in the world as it is. Stop chasing rainbows, and instead find a rainbow world right in front of your eyes.

Blizzard arrival

On that first day, snow fell and fell.
Lorries ground to a halt on the roads, and their drivers took shelter in schools and village halls across the country. A blizzard blew all around, witnessing my arrival.

Later, she held me up, wrapped in a hospital blanket, little knitted cap on my head, held me up to the single pane of glass. Outside, down on the snow covered lawn, two small boys in long coats and balaclavas raised their small white faces to the figure at the first floor window. Gathering handfuls of snow, they pressed them together. Raised their arms and threw balls of snow towards the glass until their father sat them on the sledge and pulled them home.

She waved after them until they turned the corner, then lay back down in her hospital bed, the bassinet beside her; and inside, swadled tight, a blizzard baby, fierce and wild, now sleeping like a kitten.