Falling Teacup White Robe

Cushion pushing tight into the twists,

the rumbles. Shh, time to sleep

I said before ears came.

The night, perched on the bed edge,

minutes like breaths, squeezing me.

My foreign body. Pulsing.

Weight of silence, an endless open mouth.

Yawning, howling.

Wait in darkness.

Shoe-horned into the car

under my tree, its soft reassurance,

resolve. Battered power

of an injured tiger.

Here, take my body,

it’s yours now.

Pummel me with

your ice cold faceless faces.

Watch me like a cat pawing bird

as I jolt, ricochets up my spine.

I don’t recognise myself

as they trolley me to the new room

with endless breasts which smother me.

Suffocate me in starched white.

I lay still in-between judders

with their walls and wires, lights that beep.

Daylight, hopeful smile on a wheeled-in tray.

Entonox is my friend, it brings me echoes,

fractured words and giggles

as her fingers inch.

Searching for news

but there is none.

Try again tomorrow, they say.

And I search the ceiling for a way out.

I’ve grown used to their window

though I cannot see outside.

One day there’ll be flowers on that table.

Another face on the end of the nth syringe.

I laugh and cry at the same time.

My turquoise bag reminds me of home,

it jars me.

She’ll be back later

and she drops a smile by the door.

Later the ceiling mocks me,

while they swab me clean

and tidy me away to nothing.

I may watch these walls

for the rest of my life.

You know night, that space

where everything sinks?

It takes me, leaves me shaking

in their hard backed chair,

drunk on spasms, they roll me over

strip me bare.

There, they lock the medicine away.

Tight lipped, they make me wait

till morning.

In daylight, pethidine is my best friend.

I call for surgeons,

but their absent hands upset me.

They sip tea on Sundays

while I rock, ridiculous,

a wretched remnant desperate for a gown.

Somewhere a woman wails,

disembodied hollering.

I wonder if she has flowers in her room.

I have no limbs now,

no head to call my own.

My pupa waits, watches the clock

push the hours, breath by breath,

my shadow up their wall.

Till everything bustles, they rush and prod,

watch over me in their Petri dish.

They tut-tut and poke.

Their needles search and pierce,

severing my pain.

I am numbness on plastic sheets,

chrome glints at my feet,

lights wink at me.

They concentrate and congregate,

explore me until teatime.

I give it my best shot.

Then I concede, consent to them,

give up, give out and give in.

I am aware of my breath,

my lungs expanding and contracting

by their green scrubs.

Their scorching lights and tinkering.

Brush the hair out of my eyes.

And where my abdomen used to be

the world opens, lilies start to bloom.

Loud and excitable, like a new heart beat.

Ceilings come and go under the sheer love.

Cradled

This, this right here, right now.

This face on the concrete, cool and rough, this tucked away under dried leaves, this attempt at shelter.

And yes the woodlice come but they don’t mind, they’ve seen me here before. Ants carry on regardless, always did, always will, while I curl up tight.

It’s ok, they nod as they pass by, shifting crumbs and sticks and broken things. But I can’t answer, not right now. I watch the woodlice trundle, legs rippling as if to say, there is movement, there is flow, although I can’t feel it.

And if I keep still long enough, my breathing will settle, will slow and the leaves will tremble on my back, will shudder just enough to show someone that I’m there.

And if I hold on, they might find me and lift me up and know I still belong. They might pluck me from the cracks in the patio and take me home, take me back indoors again.

And I would give my blessings to the woodlice as I leave them. And in someone’s hands I would be whole.

And Everything Sparkled

There was a girl wandering round the town centre, yet not really a girl, more a young woman. And if you looked closely, there were sparkles left by her feet.

It would be late in the day on the eve, the eve of Christmas and she’d search. She’d search for the perfect gift and wishing the best of all things to every shopkeeper in her path, she would make her way out of the town.

And her father would have been waiting in the car at the base of the hill. She’d bundle herself back in, bags and boxes, packets and tales of her trip and they’d leave.

At home her mother was swaddled in the smell of baking and the pastry would melt in her mouth.

And this young women was the girl tucked up in bed, was the wide eyed child listening out for bells. And later she’d wait for the rustle of bin bags and her father laying out gifts.

It was this girl who’d push open the frosted lounge door on Christmas morning, to the settee packed, bursting with bright paper and symmetrical delights.

Years later that woman chewed on carrots and hid a sleigh bell under the tree. And their son would find it in the morning and his giggles filled their world.

And then now.

Now it’s the woman on the settee with a candle, holding tight to the girls in her mind. The carrots lie beneath a smaller tree, a motif tree, not the magnificent trees of childhood or marriage. But a just-enough-tree in the corner, still bringing light to her world.

It would be bedtime soon for the woman and the candle. Curling up once more, she’d hold all her Christmases tight in her arms.

And in the morning they’d parade around her, spinning, twirling, laughing in delight.

But for now she would blow out the candle, and watch the endless sky.

Maybe, just maybe she’d see something dart across it, a flash of light, a sparkle like the footprints that she left. The girls who lived in the woman, the woman who was made of the girls, who still believed.

Bed time, sleep time, they whispered to each other. Nearly time to put on the show again.

Window World

And it became a birdsong kind of day. It opened and they woke to tiny throats vibrating, chirping louder than they’d heard before. And there it was, the sun beating brighter and sparrows hopped.

They paused on car roofs and looked around, then darted zig zags in the air and found a branch. Branches that quivered and they waited for the sounds.

But the sounds didn’t come. The rush grumble roar of wheels on road didn’t happen and blackbirds watched, they cocked their heads on one side and scoured the ground for food.

They found seeds in the un trampled grass and filled their bellies in the way they used to do before the people came, in the sweet silence before the muck and dust, and they sang out. Hard tallons scratted up and down the rooves, leaves stretched out, wet and new and morning opened.

The birds reclaimed the town, they darted, scattered in the photons, unhindered, untethered, their voices spiralled up in silent air.

There were faces at the grime stained windows but the birds still flew.