Saturday, 28 May 2016

What's In A Name?

One day a breeze slid across a field of wild flowers, lifting a seed, soon to be named Alice, and  trapping her within the shivering breast feathers of a passing bird. This bird took flight across  glistening rock beds, through a forest of evergreen and  across a tumbling river where she finally fell into a field of golden wheat and it was there that Alice took residence.

Alice looked up to see the tall grains stretching towards the heat of the sun, as they did every morning and,  as they did every morning, they swayed together, gracefully, purposely, brushing against one another, creating a vibration the spread across the field, a hum, a quiet calming hum which moaned between the breathes of the earth she grew upon.

Alice, ever changing, woke, as well, to the warmth of the sun, and, as well, stretched not only to feed from the light but to be amongst the others. Stretching with such force that she felt herself break apart and at the same time rush forward.  Her body spread green against the gold, unfurling like an untold story to separate the congregating stalks that smothered her.

"Ahhhh,"the wheat screamed.

Alice hadn't noticed that she was born with prickly thorns around her stem and leaves, and unfortunately, Alice's first words would be used to apologise for her existence.

The ear bowed down to look at his now torn leaf and this odd plant that seemed to trespass on wheat soil.  He shivered with the other plants before returning to the rhythmic sway that didn't invite Alice to join.

Farmer Mother the one who tended the fields  looked upon Alice with curiosity. She had never tended to anything like her before and, frankly, she didn't know what to make of her. But, Alice had grown in her field and therefore, would be taken care of like all the others. She would cover her leaves and stems with soft cloth, and paint her gold so that she could sway within the group.

Alice ached, bending to and fro like a rusted metronome. She became more and more bothered by the constant humming sound and the brushing of the wheat and quickly her paint peeled off. She realised that she would never be part of the sway. She screamed loudly, "Stop it!" which startled even those who usually remained indifferent.

Farmer Mother quietly whispered, "Brushing should soothe you," but Alice felt otherwise and she cried and cried breaking the rhythmic chanting of the field. They stopped and they stared. So, Farmer Mother instead built Alice her own space that she could feel the sun and stretch out and grow. And Alice did grow and grow and suddenly and beautifully she had a rush of long red petals that  made the shape of a basket. Her petal basket held the sun but it also held seeds, dust, dirt and rain water shaken off by the wheat.  Alice felt the strain which bruised and wilted her petals.

Farmer Mother, tired after a long day of turning over soil, fixing fences, pulling weeds,  didn't have time, energy nor the desire to drain Alice so sometimes she would pretend to not hear her cries. Farmer Mother secretly wished that Alice would just do what was expected of all who lived in the wheat field, but Alice would remind her that she was not wheat. Alice would slump her red petals, and slowly they would fall out and lay at both their feet.

Farmer Mother didn't want Alice to be sad, she simply wanted her to sway and shiver and hum.  She wanted the field to return to calm but the Farmer Mother accepted that Alice was different and so chose to cut the others back, giving Alice more room.

All were contented but Alice,  as it is perfectly understandable, because, although their touch hurt, she wished it didn't. Hands stretched out desire to be held or at least to have the potential to be held and Alice no longer had that.

When the sun began to set and Farmer Mother's feet swelled in her boots. She breathed deeply as she went again to tend to Alice.

"Where were you? You promised to take care of me and I haven't seen you all day!"

Farmer Mother took off her hat, wiped her brow and said, "I am here now."

"I am scared, Mother."

"Why are you scared?' Farmer Mother looked at her watch and then looked to the house.

"There is a red beast and it comes out at night."

"Now that's silly. I have never heard such nonsense!" Farmer Mother began to turn away.

"It is not nonsense,"she cried and stooped her red petals and again they started to fall.

Farmer Mother let out a long deep breath, " Would you like to tell me about the red beast?"

Alice looked up, "He comes at night and takes over the sky and blankets the ground, sometimes he breaks into a million beasts and they all attack me."

"Shall I sit with you then?"

"Please,"she said more as a question than a reply. "If you would like you can rest under my petals?"
Farmer Mother thought of the little spikes on the flower, "No, I am fine here," and she sat on the hard dirt.

As darkness unfolded across the earth giving the stars their movement, and as the ears of wheat lulled themselves to sleep, the moon rose causing a red hue to travel through the sky, which cut across clouds before breaking apart above the golden land.

Alice shut her petals, bowed her head and yelled to her mother,"There he is and he is coming for me.  I am scared, Mother. I am scared!"

Farmer Mother sighed, "It is just the moon."

Alice became angry,"No, it is not a moon. It is a red beast and it is coming for me!"

Her shouts travelled faster than the red hue and the fields began to wake. Farmer Mother went to quiet her and she crawled beneath her red petals and there Alice's world took life in Farmer Mother's eyes. It was not just a moon but vibrant blasts of red shouting through the sky fracturing, exploding, expanding, fireworks set off by the unsuspecting clouds. The colours showered down on the wheat fields creating a brilliant, dynamic mosaic. Each overwhelming detail caught in Alice's veins. It's beauty which she created and held, which couldn't be seen by others but was gifted to her mother at this moment on this night.

Farmer Mother gasped, "Alas, little one..." trying to comfort, to explain that it was not a beast but a glorious gift that belonged to only her, but she couldn't find the words for this explosion of colour and sensations. Still Alice quieted. A petal fell down on her mother, crossing over her shoulders, "Alice, is that my name?"

Farmer Mother realised that in the excitement the little flower misunderstood her.

"Is that who I am, Alice?  I have often wondered as I knew I wasn't wheat, no matter how hard I tried, and if I wasn't wheat then who was I? Now, I am Alice or Alice is me." She straightened her stem and her petals reached out as if she was answering to an encore and  waiting for the applause to quiet. She, no longer trying to dance with the wheat, but now, instead, allowing the wheat to dance around her, her vibrance warmed the field and warmed Farmer Mother.

Alice turned to Mother and asked,"Do you think that we should name the others because if you look quite closely, they are not all the same, and maybe, one or two would also prefer not to sway or shiver or brush?"

"Maybe,"replied Farmer Mother witnessing the details of each one's own particular story.

"I name that one Lilly and that one Elliot." said Alice, and that is how Farmer Mother and Alice spent the rest of the night. As the field, which once was only gold, blossomed with colours so did it too blossom with newly recognised life and, as should be expected, each new life rightfully deserves its very own name.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

My Chest Compressed

My chest compressed
like fragile ground under heavy boots
stomp and stomp and stomp and stomp.
Caving inward, unsettled rubble knocking about

My chest compressed
Deflating, air escapes through quiet rips
insides stick together, pulling me down
the darkness again rushes through, consumes.

My chest compressed
punched,  gasping, watching the window fog
my head against vibrating steel
the rhythm of the train takes me home.

My chest compressed
I enter to your quiet cries.
Your sister cradles you
as you wait for fairies to hide you away.

Our chests compress
as we think of the needle
that I am not sure you need
but the doctor would like anyway.

My misgivings growing
as does the red in your eyes.
I question my choices
The restless child in me struggles.

I lay Wonder Woman's armour
at your bedside.
and say it will shield you from pain.
You push it away.

Admonishing her
She is a fake!
The armour is a fake!
Everyone feels pain!

I concede. I cuddle, I kiss, you burrow.
running my thumb down your arm.
We lay sad together and wait for sleep.
We decompress

Friday, 12 February 2016

I Wish Life Was A Musical!

I wish life was like a musical and within a moment we all would just turn to song connecting the world in an unspeakable, indescribable moment of musical notes which flood the air while our smiles rush the camera in a close-up.

I met your father in the city yesterday.  It felt to be a naughty secret, our midday rendezvous.  As I walked down Northumberland, I couldn't get rid of my cheeky smile, the emerging giggle. My fast pace weaved through the crowd of extras and I smiled at them all, even smiled at the fiftieth chugger, beckoning to me.

We hadn't done this in years and yes, I do mean years, shame on us. That day, I wasn't the mommy with stains down my shirt, frazzled, tired, underwear arse backwards (literally). Yes, underwear, put on in the dark, often represented the confusion given from a poor night's sleep,  and even when I found out, probably, slumped over, hiding in an overused bathroom, I was too tired to care, but I digress. In that minute, I was gorgeous. My hair thick, caught by the wind of my stride. My clothes actually fitting and colour coded, makeup that was planned, instead of bought on clearance. As well, I had just downed an Americano with three shots of expresso, every mother's legal high. I was meeting him, the man I loved and he was only a few steps away, I could feel it.

The busker played with her see-through violin, she nodded and smiled. She added romance, intrigue and a sense of urgency, which is when I saw him.  In his black overcoat, woollen scarf, he looked for me and the music heightened as we moved closer, the pace quickened and so did mine. Now, usually in life, this is where I trip, but that day, I didn't.  I was confident, strident and surprisingly agile. I waved and he saw me and the crowd disappeared as it does when two people are in love. I think that your father was terribly shocked when I ran the last few steps and hugged and kissed him, silently embracing as the violin played. Yes, she was tipped.

Today, I walked down the same street again and again heard the music play. It was an Eastern European rhythm this time and, again, I couldn't help but smile.  I was desperate to go into dance, to twirl around the man at the fruit stand or the toothless, smiling, bald man with oversized trousers that stood in front of me, waiting. How wonderful it would be if we all joined in song, shed our tensions, fears, frustration and let the joy emerge.  That mischievous, fun child that boogie's away and now, that child had live music and an audience, so why not dance.

When I was a child, I had a paper round and the news had to be on the doorstep by 6 AM, so before the alarm clocks rang and duvets released the warmth of the night, before coffees brewed and morning kisses given,  I and my little red wagon would make our way down silent streets.  The rattle of the tyres bounced off the street lights, with the tap tap patter of my tiny gait as an accompaniment. The wind would brush the bushes and the trees would shake, the leaves quiver, it would bring a quiet reverberation, and sometimes, helped by the moon, it would gain power and bring a force that rushed through my small frame, knocking me forward, to centre stage.  Quietly but not cautiously, I would twirl under the street lights, watched only by hidden eyes contained in the bush or perched upon the wire and within me, around me, through me, the orchestra would play.

Your father has pointed out that I hum quite often.  I am not sure how he feels about this topic. He suspects it occurs when I am a bit "tense," which it makes him a bit tense. He's wrong.  The humming is only a slight bit of the loud, booming music that fills my body and I love it. As an adult, the quiet humming is what I am allowed to show. However, sometimes, I forget and I break out into song in the market or when walking.  I am usually lost in thought and am unaware of my social transgression until I receive a startled look from a passerby. It doesn't embarrass me, as you know, very little embarrasses Mommy. Hopefully, you will remember my saying to you, "Life is long," but, sadly, sometimes, I am reminded that the ending can come quick and without much warning, so enjoy the now, emerge yourself in this moment.

I will have you know that we are descended from many others who wish life was a musical. Your grandmother often sang Valderi when hiking mountains and I would giggle at the polite but perplexed onlookers before joining in. I can see the same traits in you girls. The bigger little one of you learning the words to all the songs, sometimes shedding that too cool exterior to make funny faces and funny moves, which get me giggling.  The littlest one of you just turning to song, whether it is to ask a question or make a demand, or remake the latest top hit, so it is a bit silly, also contorting your body and voice for comic appeal. Sometimes we all break into song together and laugh, sharing our stages and soothing the lonely child with the little red wagon. We are alive and we are happy. We three are part of a musical, where the goodies always win and the baddies fall into a wagon of mud, communities come together and everyone smiles at the camera as we move rhythmically, unanimously arms interlocked, through the world, together. I love it and you love it and someday it will help fill your basket of happy memories. So, girls, now, we just have to convince your father!