Finding me

Does anyone know how they arrive at a destination that prior to one’s arrival seemed so implausible? Days used to plod along and life was ok and I thought we’d just keep going. Ok so it was a bit awful sometimes but generally things could always have been worse and yeah I thought life was liveable.

Only it wasn’t ok.

I thought I was happily married. No actually I really did believe. I wasn’t pretending to friends and family. I didn’t feel I was living a lie because when big things that were fucking awful happened I told a few people but in a ‘haha can you believe this guy?’ kind of way which in hindsight undermined the severity of the situation. Somethings I just absorbed the misery through my skin and felt it poison then become part of my blood stream. I survived by holding onto tomorrow. And to the memories of a distant past. And that made the today of it all, the constant tension, a little less piercing. But you know the funny thing is that despite seeing myself as ‘happily married’ I sort of suspected that I was not happy. The me in it all had disappeared and didn’t matter because the married part of who I was had consumed my individual sense of self. I battled to make family and marriage and home work even as my husband sought to destroy it all. I gave me away. My happy was irrelevant. My despair and sadness just sat in the pit of me and I forgot I existed. I didn’t know that I mattered and had a right to happiness. It was all about him.

Now I look in the mirror and see myself for the fist time in years and I see lines and 15 years of trauma written across my face. I see ageing and time lost. And I fret and see no hope of love because I’ve lost the commodity of youth. And I fight with myself not to look back or forward but to see ME in the mirror now. Limb by cell by thought I pull myself out of the grave I have been buried alive in. Each day I hope to see a little more daylight. Each day I hope that I will find who I am again. I hope too that it happens before I die a real death so that I’ll at least have known and loved myself a little in this lifetime of mine.

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Depression

I did not know that depression was the undercurrent. I always thought it was the tsunami. But no. It is hidden beneath the skin and pulls me outside in. I’m twisted and flayed time after time. And I wanted someone to catch me but there was no one. I fell in and was pulled under. The undercurrent still has me and I don’t know what to do.

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Maze

Leaves conspire against me and cling to the shadows they cast. The future is impenetrable. Like the fog he conjured up in front of my face. Dusk is moments away. I look up and see half the sky bathed in a tangerine pink haze. The other half is a tragic indigo. It mourns itself. Should the rain fall right now the drops would be tears and the water would wash away the meandering stains on my cheeks. I can not get out. Beyond each corner is a wall of forest green blocking my escape. I was in too deep. I didn’t know how to exhale because he’d had his hands around my throat for such a long time. Eyes bulged and the veins at my temples squirmed like worms under the skin. He let me go. Chose not to murder me. Seemed bored by it all. By the small deaths. I still couldn’t see clearly and walked right into this network of traps and illusions. I look up. I’ve missed it: the sky blinking. Now all of a sudden it is nighttime. And again I can’t see the woods for the trees, the leaves for the maze, the night for the dark. I can’t see the way out. Still, I must forge on.

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Mother tongue

I have no other tongue but this one.
No rising intonation singing a tropical song
Then turning in a flash to lash.
No deep belly switching of codes
No knowing eruptions.

It’s root was severed
like Beloved’s head.

Slashed.

In my babe’s mouth tears fell as blood
and my tongue
swung
low.

I grew a phantom.
Pink and white it blossomed.
Hungry for all the crannies and crevices.
It sought out walls and confines.
Found it could move and throw words out into the world.
Singular and wide
my tongue held onto English sounds.
Comforting and complete
not fragmented and impenetrable.
We adopted each other in the ether
while mother and father
tongues turned away.
Each to their own
leaving me an orphan.

My heart dances to soukous
but moves deaf to Swahili.
Shona is only a thundering vibration.
I still speak with a timbre.
My voice still finds it’s way home.
But my once new sprung tongue
is of this isle
And when it lashes, thrashes and loops
It is unashamed.
My tongue is mine own
And I claim it fiercely.

Inspired by ‘Epilogue’, Grace Nichols, The Fat Black Woman’s Poems, 1984

Beloved ref to Toni Morrison novel of the same name.
*Shona is spoken by Zimbabweans
*Swahili is spoken by Kenyans. It is also spoken in other East African countries.

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01.48am

Retrograde plays in the pitch
Palm rests centre of rib cage, fingers upon my breast
And I vibrate with each out of sync heart beat.
Under each eyelid I can see each rise and fall.
I can hear my own silent song
Base notes strong and faithful.
Stretched limbs let the sounds take over.
Blake’s echo fills the room, swirling and at once I am under the wave
Warm and suicidal I let the water slip like syrup into my lungs.
I surrender to the arrest.
Then the tide subsides
And the black summer’s night returns.
A hollow velvet.

It is time to tune out, to sleep.

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Free writing…a little something written in July

Here take my hand child
Don’t be afraid
Don’t gaze up at me suspicious
Don’t you recognise my face?

Think, think child. See me.
Don’t you know my name?
I was there when you were born child
You and I are the same

I saw you when you were lonely
Cried when I found you in pain
Got you up in the morning
Made you catch your train

Watched you clean up the mess
Again and again and again
I rubbed your brow when you were sleeping
Felt you going insane.
From listening over and over
To the same tired refrain.

Not to worry I am here now
No child don’t you fret
Your cheeks will dry in time child
Your path is not set

I’ve always been beside you
Even when all seemed lost
Saw you holding an abacus
When you were counting the costs

Come home to me baby
I’ve always been here
It’s time for a new chapter
It’s time to shift up a gear

Let’s face the future together
Let’s go to the moon and back
Let’s compose a new beginning
Lets mix a brand new track

I’ll step up to do the vocals
You can hop onto the decks
It’s time to surrender to the music
And let life take care of the rest.

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Starting over: a post marriage pick me up

What do you do with a life? When corners are filled with wrong turns and regrets and the room of it, for you feel boxed in some days, seems like a badly decorated, tight cacophony of mistakes.

What do you do with a life? When you survey the scene and don’t recognise how you got here with such an assortment of pieces, some broken others aged, worn.

What do you do? When the collection of people and places before you seem alien and you want to exchange a thing or three or refund the whole lot. When you want to take back even the young fragile coffee tables that you didn’t really know what to do with and can’t remember now why you purchased them on a sensible whim in the first place. What. Do. You. Do?

Most things won’t go back. The low coffee tables with their short legs are non-refundable. But they amuse. And come in handy when you just need a place to rest a weary brew.

What will I do with a life, my life? Perhaps first I’ll find the concealed door and let myself out of this one room. I’ll pack the bits and bobs that I have to take with me and head on out. I’ll open up life and be more outdoorsy. I’ll set up camp somewhere where the sky is above and the sea is below and I’ll tread water. I don’t want to keep my feet on the ground I want to keep moving so that walls, ceilings and floors don’t hem me in and lock the light out.

The suffocating migraine of years gone by promises to make my brain implode and seep from my ears. Running like a gazelle into this life is all I can do to stop the hot hot molten aftermath from claiming me.

I’ll take this life and fling it wide open. My life won’t be a box it will be without form. Infinity must have a centre, a starting point so I will be my own beginning and there will be no end. Possibility will stretch in every direction.

I know what to do with a life, my life.
I must live.

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