From Ultramarine 2014
Thin girl on the corner
clutching dark baby
against the cold.
Shadows of sleepless nights
lie under somnambulant eyes
where the cries of new children
meet the stamping of tribal fires
out over a darkened universe.
They don’t make Tutti Frutties like they used to, somehow the outer sugar coated skin cracks too easily under the inquisitive bite. I was addicted to them, would swaddle myself in brown woollens to brave the island’s cold and make it to the sweet shop on the windswept high street. You were busy dipping sheep or whatever it was you did with them that kept you occupied under a grey sky. I could watch the gales coming clean across the sea from Scotland, judge the distance wait for the breath of ice to swirl the white flakes into an obscurity so deep I prayed constantly for reprieve: anything to lighten the distance between me and a sun that shone somewhere out of reach. I went “radical “wrote to MP’s and Health Ministers demanding a home birth for my increasing girth. I actually knitted a jumper so brown and shapeless that it somehow suited my melancholia. A friend remarked on my size ,I was eating according to an American diet that promised healthy babies but I couldn’t eat all that was prescribed, just swelled to three stone my usual weight , had breasts like melons. “Haven’t you seen a woman pregnant before?” I demanded, “Yes but not one that looks like you”, he glibly replied.
A winding stair, Scottish light, only a few hours of it then everlasting night, a turret eerie where you and I are thrown together. My father is nowhere in sight and you are sick throwing your pregnancy into the silence. I can’t cook, can make you burnt toast and tea, peel you oranges walk the 94 stairs to the ground below with two small dogs that you terrorise day and night. I’m chased every day after school by the cloaked bully boy, sneak to the sweet shop for comfort
Hormones bounce inside my brain, I hate the size I’ve become, lie staring into the high gusted winds that buffet my window, hate you for the impregnation, read second rate novels only by women writers my shelves are stacked with Virago paperbacks.
Boy child ruffled with sleep, blonde hair spiked, lays beside a bedful of bears, the sad one is mine, perfume on his nose and bare fur patched over the years, boy child sleepwalks at night sees rivers in the bathroom, foxes floating up the banisters , television sets that won’t switch off. Boy child tumbles through morning ablution creeps into bed for kisses is a miracle of evolution and a throwback to posterity.
an ancient fire
lack of sleep.
I am a tiger with my cubs, a mare fighting for her foal fuelled by neglect into an overwhelming single-handed sect of motherhood. Health visitors quake before me; I lobby supermarkets breast feed for futurity expend superhuman energy on perfecting my art. You are a victim of my famine, I rarely let you feed except when pressed into a minimal submission.
The darkness had nothing to do with
the constant swell of the sea, gales
that caught us off balance, latitude
or climactic zone, the darkness was
welling from a constant fountain
bubbling from internal landscape
high on tiredness, bright with trauma
the darkness echoed every moment
that we tried to throw it, the darkness
wasted half our lifetimes the darkness
lived by you and me.