Monday, 27 May 2013

All's Well

After nearly five years, the words have dried up.
Nothing left except a heavy heart that shifts inside and aches.

Surfacing from sleep, a voice sings to me.

'And though death draws near, I've nothing to fear today.
As the colours they fade, the colours they fade away
All's well . . . all's well.'

A voice that sounds certain. Sure. Quiet and dignified. Seeming to echo through time, at one remove.

A song inspired by Dr. Edward Wilson, who was the chief scientist and artist on Scott's doomed expedition to the Antarctic. The lyric is based on a letter he wrote to his wife, as he realised that he would soon die.

Dr. Wilson believed that everything that happened to him was part of God's divine plan. He repeatedly used the phrase 'all's well' in an attempt to convey this in his final letters.

I wonder.
A death that was avoidable, freezing, lonely. Only a matter of miles away from safety and life.

I wonder.
Georgina's death seems so strange and senseless.
To half form a little body only to cast it aside.
Every narrative I spin to myself frays apart at the memory of the blood running out of her tiny mouth, the laboured breaths, the little hands that squeezed.

Two deaths. One remembered by some. The other forgotten. Except by me.

But it matters very little how I think of it. In truth.
I can fight with it, I can howl at it, I can curse and spit and swear.
I can cry and think it unfair.

It remains there. Implacable and suspended.
In a time that I cannot alter.
As cold as snow.

Perhaps I should just attempt to believe that 'all's well.'
To let some of that quiet dignity seep into my tired old heart.
Maybe if I said it frequently enough, whispered it to myself in the night, I would come to believe it?

All's well.

You can hear the song here

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Whispers from Billy and Samuel

I walked outside with you this evening. Into the dark, damp grass beneath my feet, grainy stone.
Cool air whistling into my lungs, inflating, ribs lifting, heart contracting.
Moon ponderous in the sky, waiting for introductions to be made.

Even here, in the dull British suburbs.
No pear tree or dark roses.
The Moon waits for a small child with wide eyes.

But I have no year-old child to carry out. Not in any world.
Only a weary thirty three year old body, tattered, to raise a blood shot eye aloft to your fat expectant whiteness.

My arms are full of imaginings, gathered to myself.
The soft, sweet heft of a child never-to-be.
The phantom weight settles comfortably into nerve endings, the old habit of making solid flesh from  air, the repetition of yearning that has altered their branchings and signals.

I wish that you could see her, old Moon.
I have carried her outdoors to be introduced, the nothingness of air shaped into limbs and lolling head.
My daughter, never in need of a tattered blanket.
Neediness is not in her nature.

You look blankly at a woman turning nothing into her shoulder.
No introduction necessary.
This is already familiar.

But, just briefly, I look through the eyes that might have been yours.
My daughter, tiny creature, with a mouth that never made any small cries.
Just whistled breaths.

Your eyes.
Borrowed by your mother, to look at the Moon anew.
To make my cries seem small.
And I twirl about, clumsily, drunk with light and wishes.


whispers from here and here

Sunday, 5 May 2013


It's early in the morning of Reuben's second birthday. The house is quiet, calm grey light filtering into my kitchen window. The presents are wrapped, the food prepared.

Time rattles past. In a whirl of computers and spreadsheets, children, meals, strangely vivid dreams that leave me unsettled. Until there is no time left. I mean to read and write but there is nothing to say and no time to write it down in. Intentions dry out and blow away in the wind, desiccated tinder-like stuff.

"Play me the song about shooting," Jessica demands. I look up. Disconcerted. What the heck? She wants a song about shooting? Have I been playing her a song about shooting? Argh. Neglectful, bad mother.

After about ten false starts, I finally tumble to the fact that she wants the track 'Titanium'. We dance around together, slightly grimly on my part. Shoot me down but I won't fall. I am titanium.

I swear that she has more titanium about her than most. But not me. I'm more like . . .  a marshmallow. Easily squished.


Reuben is slightly suspicious of the entire birthday celebration. He squints his eyes at the presents and fuss. Not certain what is happening and not sure whether to trust in it. I am so protective of this child, his scant hair, his wild emotions, his stumbling words.


Five years this summer and I am sad. Not angry, not devastated.

There is no fire left. Only a small, cold sadness that sits in my throat like a smooth pebble. Or perhaps it is merely the scar of where that stone resided, my throat permanently scratched by a memory of what it once contained.

Sadness accompanied by flashes of blinding happiness. Throat, eyes, brain. None of which seem to work in their old familiar ways. Photoreceptors all bent out of shape, throat etched with a reminder of something that is long gone, brain all fried and fuzzy. But, eventually, this will be the old familiar way. I've had a seventh of my life to adjust already. That proportion may well increase. If I'm lucky.

An icy wire running alongside my spinal column, a pebble, something cold and metallic in the palm of my hand. Something that even a multiplicity of metaphors could never quite capture.

And yet it is nothing special or unusual. Except in the context of the specificity of the link.
Me, my daughter, Georgina.


Occasionally she resurfaces. Sometimes I drag her up, through the years. Never can quite understand what prompts my actions on these occasions. Sometimes it just tumbles out, before I've had a chance to make a decision.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," a colleague says kindly. "Just goes to show that you never know what other people have been through."

And, later, a back handed compliment, "but you've a lovely figure . . . given that you've had two children."



I'm scared, yes I'm scared. 
That like the wind takes a leaf from a tree, time will take your love from me. 

That time will take this strange, dead-end love away from me.