Thoughts, reflections and a poem

I have been thinking lately about my blog and what is appropriate to post and what may not be. I will explain.

The blog was born out of a diagnosis of MS in 2011. Shortly after the diagnosis and while I was still in shock, a very good friend who happens to be here on WP, suggested to me that I might give writing poetry a chance; he had more confidence in me than I had. I almost laughed his suggestion out the window right there and then and I would have let it fly off with the birds if it had been left to me alone. But he kept nudging me, very gently and with such genuine faith in me that I decided to have a go. So I began; I would write a poem and then run it by him for feedback, which he gladly gave. This in itself was a massive step for me, to show someone what I had written, however “bad” it may be, and even more of a giant step to find myself in a place where I would accept constructive criticism, even if it was through slightly gritted teeth! When I look at this now, I can see that if we really have a desire to accomplish something, then all we need is encouragement, guidance and a huge dose of blind faith, in order to at least give it a chance.

So the blog was born. I write now for two main reasons, the first being therapy, helping myself manage the monster as I call it, which has set up a permanent home inside my body. And the second reason has followed gradually; I am enjoying writing and having fun with it. As a result of all this I have met, and continue to meet, some wonderful new people who I consider to be real friends even though we have not met in person and probably won’t (Now I can hear my mum!! – “Never say never!”) So while I’m rambling, I want to say a huge thank you to all of you on here for continuing to support and encourage me on this still very new journey; it is so very much appreciated. I know a little more about poetry now than I did and I am enjoying reading good poets and trying to improve my writing skills. I still know very little and I do have to say writing isn’t second nature to me; I do have to try hard to produce something I am reasonably satisfied with.

Back to the beginning of this post. I try to write and post poems which are optimistic and uplifting, even those relating to MS, because this helps me to stay in a positive place. But sometimes when I feel down, as I did recently, I write something accordingly, and find it difficult to include touches of humour, which I know I often do. There is no real conscious effort with this; I think it must be one of my coping strategies and thats no bad thing; I cherish my sense of humour, its a very necessary part of emotional healing. I think what I am trying to say is that when I post poems that seem to emerge from a darker place Im not feeling sorry for myself, I am simply saying how it feels. And I think that is appropriate, but whether it is appropriate here Im not sure and would appreciate your feedback.

The following poem is the one which prompted me to write what I have said above.

Diminished

Don’t try and tell me to focus on
what I can do rather than
what I cant.
Don’t try and tell me that I’m still
the same person I was before,
and don’t tell me what I
can’t do anymore doesn’t matter

because today the computer lead
came out from its socket and
the printer ran out of ink
and I was home alone;
I could fix nothing.
I am tear-streaming;
living in a body that’s
switching itself off.
I feel powerless, trapped
and diminished;
flailing around,
(“not waving but drowning”)
in a pointlessly raging sea of
wishing things were different.

And don’t tell me
tomorrow is another day.

(“Not Waving but Drowning – poem by Stevie Smith)

Between Shit and Serenity

I can say with all honesty that
I am grateful for what I have,
but I also grieve for what I have lost;
mobility, independence,
that sense of purpose,
a busyness, some of it possibly
extrinsic, but it led me to become
who I was; it defined me

and now all that’s changed
and sometimes I feel lost,
like a small child losing its
mother in a large store,
frightened and alone.

So I listen to words of wisdom
that tell me I am not my body,
that it’s my spirit that counts
and truly lives, which I know
is the essential truth,
and simple to grasp when
I sit cosily with a heat pack
against my back, coffee and cake,
and practice Dharma,

until I am reminded that I have
an appointment within the next hour
and I have to stand up, get ready,
walk, negotiate uneven paths,
heavy doors, awkward people.

I do not see my body as a bonus
and find myself flitting endlessly
every day
between shit and serenity.

One Way Ticket

We were waiting for the bus.
You should be wearing a hat,
she said,
You’ll catch your death.

I’d spotted her strolling down the
street window shopping
talking to a stranger,
timeworn gaberdine navigating
her frailty, brown fuzzy beret,
not so much Basque as
church Bring and Buy,
clutching a bag that matched nothing,
tight like a security cloth,
contents stoically protecting her past;
Stratton compact, sweet pressed nostalgia,
bright red lipstick, barely worn,
as garish as she never was,
and Yardley 4711 eau de cologne
with its little rubber stopper,
to be dabbed sparingly,  of course,
middle finger only.
Oh, and a piece of coal should she come
across someone about to take an exam.
My daughter was in the legal profession,
she told the stranger.
I was a secretary mum.
Same thing,
she said.

She told me she still had a bus ticket
somewhere from the days of
Samuel Ledgard;
now they were real buses.
Anyway, where are we going?
she asked, quizzical. I smiled.

Home, I said.

This poem is a reflection of the beginning of my mum’s long,
slow and very sad journey through dementia

 

 

 

Caesarean Section – Saturday September 30th 1972

In the 70s, ante/post natal care in the UK within the NHS left a great deal
to be desired. Thankfully that has changed over the years and mums are now treated
like human beings.

Sunlight edged through bevelled
glass, hovered softly across
the water, a jug of liquid gold

waiting for painful sips to be
taken as surges rose and fell;
you had decided it was time,
we would do this together.

You shifted and shifted
hour after laboured hour;
I pushed in vain, until
suddenly it seemed all
senses were cancelled,
crossed off the list of
essentials for giving birth.

I clawed my way out of
drug riddled fog; no doctor,
no nurse, no family – no baby.
My silent screams bounced off
icy walls like a pin ball.

Twenty-eight life long hours later,
trundling wheels through endless
corridors to nowhere led me slowly
toward you, stone-faced uniform,
accusatory, hostile silence.

We finally met, still painfully
divided by unyielding glass;
you were beautiful –
vulnerable, innocent,
impossible and real.

And I had failed you already.

 

 

Sobriety – 10 Years On

Ten years on I still hate parties,
hear lucid conversation dissolve
to embarrassing gibberish,
recoil from alcohol drenched
kisses on the cheek and,
ten years on, can still sit in
self-righteous judgement
upon people simply trying
to enjoy themselves.

But alcohol dragged me swiftly
beyond the realms of enjoyment
to a lonely space of despair,
lured me toward dark, desolate,
dangerous places,
stole my dignity, self-worth,
almost robbed me of
family and friends,
and nearly killed me.

Ten years on I wouldn’t
trade my sobriety for anything.

While Life Goes On All Around Me

It’s seven thirty, they’ve started early,
churn political expertise around in a rusty
cement mixer till it is smooth, creamy
and set into a new south faced existence.

Weary face in a timeworn van pulls up,
pours calcium into brittle bones of
daily life, his own rattled by plastic
progress; business is dead.

Lone jogger pads daily ritual to
crescendo, as a brisk breeze edges
its sharpness through the open window.

And here comes Boy Racer, dead on cue;
screeches to a tedious halt,
picks up his friend in the white shirt
with no tie.
They say he’s the clever one, Boy Racer,
can park his car on a postage stamp,

which makes me think about my life and
how, it seems, most of it fits onto a
stamp these days,
a small, watery blue one, second class,
lost in the post.

Nana

Nana

She sat on a chair by the window
like a small stone Buddha,
immobilised by the bully
that spread its greedy paralysis
over one side of her frail body.

I sat at the piano, played
“Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam”,
faltering notes enough to draw
virgin miracle tears slowly
down her tired, wrinkled face.

I went away, school trip abroad;
when I came back she had gone,
swept away with enormous
brush of relief, no trace but
faint stains of ageing and
weary walking stick.

I watched the sun, pale and cool,
determined rays penetrating
the window where she would sit
day after lonely day, waiting
for her time to shine.

Wendy L. Macdonald

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