Poetry

QUEST

In my quest
I have

Trawled wide oceans
with fine gauge fishing net
Hung fly paper
the size of double sheets from the trees
Grown bacteria on
a swimming pool petri dish
Scoured the Encyclopaedia Britannica
volumes A-Z
Tested DNA
from a million people
Searched four and a half decades of
what is called my soul

Each endeavour
methodically approached,
meticulously recorded
Every result
negative

But I am still looking
I want the word to name
our particular sorrow
To tell my sister, my mother
and my mother’s mother

(July 2016)


MOMENTS IN TRAIN 

Signal stop at dusk
Monstrous emotional child I
Observe the calm beauty

A baby smiles at me
Stares; am I really so blind
To my age and sadness?

Soap actress learning lines
Silently mouthing tomorrow’s drama
I envy her the script

Glance the tabloid news
Swallow details of celebrity child abuse
Throw up between the headlines

A man sees my tears
Stands and offers me his seat
I smile drily and decline

A boy sits beside me
Photographs page three of the Sun
Double objectification

Message on my phone
My grandmother has died in hospital
Mummy’s distant voice

(I spend a lot of time on trains. A lot happens. This is a series of haiku I wrote over the past few years capturing those individual experiences. Finished in 2015)


 

THERAPY JAZZ

Therapy:
It breaks you down slowly
Grows you up fast

Those are the separate rhythms
Different beats
Simple tunes
On their own
Nothing spectacular

Put them together
They artfully syncopate:
Jazz

(2015 – on understanding a bit about my therapy)


 

THAT LOVE 

I call you to mind
My eight years dead grandmother
Crave your simple hug

Damaged and disgusting
I consider love’s intention
When it does not save or last

Look at your face
All for me, every time
Your special, questionable smile

That love
Like sunshine at a funeral
Undeniable but out of place

(2014, written about the relationship with my grandmother)


 

SHARED KNOWLEDGE

Precious accident – you
Wanted burden – me
We don’t talk

Some days the gulf between us
Narrowed only by our
Shared gestures

I saw your daughter born
Knew your need for me
Unspoken understanding

Sitting side by side
Arms, legs meeting in
Silent communion

We know distraction
Constantly making with our
Identical hands

(July 2014, written about the relationship between my sister and me.)


TICK THE BOX

Research shows
As a victim of abuse
I’m more likely to suffer
rheumatoid arthritis – artherosclerosis –
panic – anxiety – unexplained pain –
claustrophobia – agoraphobia – anyotherkindofphobia
Please delete or add as applicable

Statistics say
As a victim of abuse
I’m more likely to number amongst
the self harmers – drug misusers –
eating disordered – alcoholic –
mildly psychotic – child abusers –
Please tick all that apply

The media blares
As a victim of abuse
I’m very likely to have
asked for it – exaggerated –
got my facts wrong –
suffered at the hands of a ‘monster’
Please choose one category only

Society thinks that
As a victim of abuse
can only be
unknown to them – damaged by a celebrity –
part of a cult – raised in an institution –
used by a politician
Please rank in order of relevance

I know
As a victim of abuse
Every day I feel
exposed guilty afraid
dirty humiliated lonely
detached needy ashamed
Please use the free text box to tell me what you think

(August 2014)


ROUTINE ABUSE

Between the ages of five and eleven
Week days after half past three
Saturday Sunday twenty-four seven
Holidays? Let’s wait and see

Upstairs meant the serious business
Downstairs it happened more casually
Get to the kitchen – safety and happiness
Outdoors, uncharted territory

The rules are relatively easy to learn
I picked them up at five years old
You’re called, you go, it happens – a pattern
Now broken by having told

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