Plucking at Something

Here is my take on today’s assignment for the Writing 201 Poetry course: a prose poem about hands, incorporating assonance.


You come to my home uninvited, unnerving me, and although I’m uneasy I silence my tongue, because today your subdued air of submission gives me unaccustomed trust in you. I don’t want to shun you, my unravelled daughter, though my love seems redundant and unkindly used. The cuts and the bruises are ugly and telling, starvation and pallor are are hard to ignore. Your fingers are busily plucking at something under the rubbish in the hub of your bag

And now you are urging for news of your brother, a worrying subject, for one so unwell. I have nothing but good news, which shouldn’t unhinge you but unhealthy thoughts could worry your skull. I plunge the memory of our last discussion under my consciousness as must be done.

He walked out of prison anxious and wary, he was clad in mis-matched minimal garb, because everything he had worn upon entry was already filthy and ripped and marred.His feelings were mixed as he breathed semi-freedom at the side of his case-worker and walked to the car, because under the fear of a failure at freedom, was excitement at the thought of the fun he cound have.

(From under subversive eyelashes I watch you, and see my reluctance was undeserved. You unreservedly absorb every morsel; your abundant joy is undisguised. But still unremitting your fingers keep picking, plucking at something inside your bag.)

When he arrived at the re-hab the staff and residents all reached out a welcoming hand. He was overwhelmed by strange emotions and the push and the pull of feelings within. But he knew that very soon he would settle to a new routine in this friendly regime. He was longing to see his sisters and nephews and for trips to the city during weekends. When we visited him there within hours of his entry we brought him fresh clean jeans and tee shirts, and it was easy to see that he was intending to be a good brother and uncle and son.

I conclude my tale by re-asserting how pleased I am and how terribly proud. I re-assure you of his desire to see you, as soon as an appropriate day is arranged.

And although your fingers still pluck and worry at whatever is lurking inside your bag, I can see that you needed some news of your brother, and maybe his freedom will help you get well.

© Jane Paterson Basil


46 thoughts on “Plucking at Something

  1. Jane, this is so heartfelt and complex. Full of sadness and snatching at slither of hope for the future. Can I ask you- do you know what’s in the bag? For some reason I’m wondering what’s in there. I think I’ve seen too many thrillers over the years!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your generous comments. When I started this blog I made a promise to myself that I would be truthful. This is the brutal truth. Under the syringes, spoons and the rest of the works are small, empty casings from sterile water and similar, and a roll of sticky tape. She select a packet, and carefully wraps lots of sellotape around it, and then carefully chooses a corner of her bag to hide it in. when I ask her what she’s doing she looks secretive and says that it’s a present for her brother. This is drug psychosis.
      I’m at the start of a mission to turn people from the drug use in the only way I know. This blog is where I save the work that I want to get published, and I add other writing just for fun.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. That’s a tragic one. Most addicts have to totally abstain from their particular poison, but we need food in order to survive. It’s a parodox.
        I think I’ll see if I can find a food addict’s blog.


      1. I have a nephew that is starting on the wrong path where drugs are concerned. All over facebook with comments about this and that. Astounds me how kids are so shameless about it! Him and his friends use slang words thinking they are foxing us oldies! I went through a stage of posting the dictionary definition of his drug slang on his posts so he couldn’t hide behind silly words!!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. They don’t believe what a slippery slope it can be. It breaks my heart that they think it’s cool. I would suggest that you get the best advice available for your nephew. Most of them survive unscathed, but you need to be ahead of the game.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I was about to respond to your last comment, when I inadvertently deleted it. I’m doing a lot of that tonight. I wanted to thank you for saying that I write with my heart’s blood; that is the only way I can think of to get the message across, and it’s heartening to think that my red ink is making its mark. My next job is to find a way of reaching my target audience.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the length of your prose poem. You took the challenge and told a full story. I think that perhaps we all have that elusive novel to write. Maybe through poetry revving us up, we can get it all out in true prose one day. But when we practice things like prose poetry we learn HOW we can write and that can only help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had what I consider to be a brilliant and original idea today. Unfortunately i can’t reveal it in a place as public as this, because i think it is something that may never have been done before, but it’s odd that your comment has hints of cunning plan…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We have some weird connected wave-length that we’re on. And, it’s evident from the bouncing back and forth between the comments on one another’s blogs. Poetry has taken us into some zone, or something. Cunning. Something twilight-y. But NOT like the book. The old TV shows lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think this is how poets text, or something. We write bits and bobs here and there and we expect one another to piece the whole conversation together. I have a contact page on my blog which will send a message to my email. If that works for you, go for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jane, you may feel naked and exposed, but someone has to have the courage to take that step, make those first shoe prints so that others will be brave enough to follow in the footsteps. Think of yourself as a pilgrim. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Our local paper ran a brave series of articles by a young member of the community. This is the last one. To speak out against the stigma associated with addiction, to publicly declare himself an addict, I can’t imagine the courage it took, but know that he and everyone who opens up to write may never know who they helped, but they will have done so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Elspeth, for sending that link. I’m going to try and find the rest of the series. Indeed, a brave young man.
      I hope that I will be as brave when the time comes. It is also hard to stand up and admit to being the mother of two addicts, but it’s what I believe I must do, because I think I have developed a voice which may be listened to by many people on the brink of addiction.


      1. Yes you will be heard – your poetry already speaks. If possible find others to work with. It helps sustain the courage that we need. Here in Rhode Island the state funds what it calls Wellness Coalitions – the one I belong to is at I hope there is something equivalent in UK. Joining in, not just to tell stories but to know that someone somewhere might be helped, is good for everyone.

        Liked by 1 person

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