You Who Read Me

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In fledgling days
when I obeyed the angle of light,

my sky side
woke at night,
describing lives I had never known,
written on stolen pages torn from school notebooks,
secrets and stories to be stored
deep in the left hand drawer.

My earth side
spun in the sunshine,
spilling glee over barn yards and fields,
dousing in streams, trailing wet jeans up beckoning trees,
and I believed that never-never land
would never ever cease, and I
would never leave,

until
it began
to recede.

And oh, how I led them,
but how flippant to treat them like geldings;
slyly watching them watch me walk a tightrope
while they safely crossed the bridge that spanned two planets,
hanging from brittle branches while they squinted against the light,
plotting to test my agility,
looking for rips in my frills while I climbed high,
slinking through twisting limbs,higher still,
rising into the pit where nothing
is green.

Slow-dancing in quicksand
until I couldn’t feel my feet.

Still, there was the writing;
words that stretched in flair and length,
eager guests in a world of turned-away faces,
approaching from nowhere, blowing kisses on my brain,
reeking of grace and sensitivity,
wafting a fragrance of sociable escapee
from false imprisonment in coventry.

In between wording times
I covered my coffin with noisy achievements.
Builders’ merchants gulped, scowling at the cheek
of this mis-gendered heretic constructing fireplaces,
mistrusting any feminine figure who fiddled
with timber and drills.

Fighting exhaustion,
I carried on weaving rainbows from straw,
filling my space with a haberdashery of tools and scrapings,
an art school of paint,
a caterer’s larder.

Neighbours sprayed my surface with praise,
hailing my zest, my skills, asking how I found the time.
I smiled enigmatically, failing to say that it kept me
from what dwelt in my head,

knowing
that nobody listened,
nobody heard.

In search of fresh cities of silence
I rented a retail space in the main street, where strangers
reached to be friends. I hid my pretence,
letting them sketch my silhouette,
splotching in the colours they could see
and tinting my flesh with wild shades of misconstrued fame.

Still, there was the writing;
words that strolled into phrases, willing to stand in line,
matching their pace, that they might aptly describe
the flight of a dust mote,
the puffball of pride.

Yet the words were unread.

I found flowers,
pressed them neatly into my smouldering heap.
Healing herbs dug roots through every layer,
my hungry space feeding their blooms.

And still, there was the writing.
Words danced quicksteps in my chest,
spinning fiction, facing facts,
linking arms to make a metaphor that said:
The best way to break free from ice
is to melt it with sweat.

Even the warmth of soil could not sway
my mental creativity.

I was told I would crash.
Years on, when collapse came,
they suggested it was age;
a natural process of winding down.

I recognised it more as a grinding down,
a sign that too much breakage had occurred,
a need to curl around the cuts.

As I kicked off the covers to roll myself tight,
my sighs rose to cries, then dwindled to whimpers, receding
until you could think it was the whisper of an overused wind
fading into the distance until even the echo
grew indistinct, leaving me
with little to fear, and nothing
to hide.

Anxiety, like concrete,
is a heavy weight to lift, but changes of life
can chip swathes of it away.

Just as I have written for survival,
I write every wrinkle of shame into history.

So,
the writing remains,
my first passion, a myriad of faithful words that float with love unending,
requesting no return, begging only
to be poetry.

It is these that saved me,
finding me, offering unfailing constancy,
giving breath where air was thin,
and finally delivering me
to you,

you who read me.

.

Written  for the Word Of The Day Challenge: Sensitivity

©Jane Paterson Basil

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51 thoughts on “You Who Read Me

  1. So there you are! I was worried you’d been kidnapped by pirates on the Thames and then brainwashed unholy to believe your future lay in becoming an itinerant toe nail painter missioned by God — pirates, Jane, you can’t trust them to steer people correct, you know.

    But perhaps you can imagine my relief to see you’ve only been working on a poem. I’m a bit distracted at the moment by two weasels squaring off in my kitchen for the last scraps of my deep fried mac and cheese sandwich, but I’ll be back to read your work.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, sadly it’s true! Four years ago, a close friend of mine went missing one evening while attempting to cross Monument Creek using only two inflated condoms as water wings in order to win a foolish bet.. Who would have suspected pirates had sailed up a creek no more than eight feet deep! But that’s pirates for you — always striking where least expected!

        At any rate, he was returned to us last month, but as a changed man. Formerly he’d been a respectable accountant, but now he craved only a career as a seesaw mechanic specializing in balancing them so they become suitable to being used as springboards to upward social mobility. Tragic, Soul Gifts, simply tragic.

        On the other hand, I myself have now risen from a poet to a criminal, so I can’t really complain.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Paul, it is such a complicated world we live in. I for one, did not know that inflated condoms can double as water wings. That is a useful bit of information to tuck away for the time when I need water wings and have none. Mind you, I have just realised that I have no condoms either. Dilemma ……. Raili

          Liked by 2 people

        2. You’re a comic genius! Albeit a criminal comic genius.

          That does it! I’m going to have to check out your humor section – as soon as I find those pirates and get back my fingers and the dust bunnies they stole from the tea caddy. Maybe I shouldn’t have left my fingers and my dust bunnies in the tea caddy – it’s such an obvious place.

          It’s a good thing they didn’t find the vintage collection of cat fleas that I made into a necklace.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Those guys are NOT pirates. They gave me a special offer on the toenail course – only £150 quid. I went for my first lesson today, but I must have got the address wrong, since I ended up in a crumbling, disused warehouse. I tried ringing them, but I must have written their number down wrong as well. Still – I’m sure they’ll get back to me…

      Anyway, who are you to give advice; you have two weasels in your kitchen…

      Like

  2. Jane – THIS is beyond words. Sooooooo good. That’s the best I can do. I’m too distracted at the thought of you being at risk of potentially turning into an itinerant toe nail painter to do any better 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Seriously, Soul Gifts, being an excellent and dedicated poet, Jane is most likely just sleeping off a hang-over or heroin withdrawal, and there’s no real reason for us as her friends to worry. Although, to be sure. one is wise to keep an eye out for pirates in English waters. Of that I’m certain, reasonably certain. I’ve seen far too many traveling toe nail painters in my days to ever grow totally complacent.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thank you Raili! I know you say that sometimes poetry can be overworked, but this is the result of careful editing. I’m a perfectionist – so shoot me 🙂

      The toenail painting thing didn’t come to anything. I should have listened to Paul. He said they were pirates. (you’ll have to read my response to his comment if you want to know what I’m talking about) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I noticed you two have been chatting amongst yourselves, leaving ME out. That’s fine, you go ahead with your preposterous conversation. Condoms indeed – scattered all over my nice clean post. Why don’t I just make myself a nice bowl of arsenic soup. It’s obvious you two don’t need me. You’ll be sorry when you try out those water wings, Raili. The reason Paul knows so much about pirates is because he is one. Since you two are such good buddies, could you please tell him to give me back my fingers and the dust bunny.

          As for you, Paul, I think you should go and sit on the naughty step for putting Raili at risk with your wicked trickery. I suppose you think you’re funny… oh! I’ve just remembered – you are.

          Preposterous – what a lovely word. I must use it again soon…

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Jane, there are so many beautiful phrases in your poem…

    trailing wet jeans up beckoning trees

    Slow-dancing in quicksand

    eager guests in a world of turned-away faces,
    approaching from nowhere, blowing kisses on my brain,
    reeking of grace and sensitivity

    In search of fresh cities of silence

    To quote just a few. It almost seems impossible to me how you can — not only create so many such phrases for just one poem — but make them all coherently meaningful. It’s an honor to have met you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I want to give an honest response to your incredible comment, Paul. This is where I get cheesy.

      This is my tribute to words. At times, writing is akin to a religious experience for me, an act of worship where the objects of worship – the words – come to me, saying “In gratitude for your love, here we are, to help you, but you must do some of the work; there are more of us in hiding. You’ll have to find the extras you need and you will have to rearrange some of us to suit..” Sometimes I want to bow down to the sky. It feels as if that is where the words come from. Seriously.

      I read the phrases you picked out. One side of my brain says they are mine, and I feel a sense of pride, but the other side is humbled by the generous gifts words give me.

      My whole life, I’ve been labelled crazy, but maybe lots of artists feel this way, whether their medium is music, dance, drama, writing or straightforward art.

      Or maybe I just have low self-esteem (yawn).

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I feel like writing a poem about it, but the poem has tipped me over the edge, making me a bit too much in love. It’s already hard to function normally and if I write any more about words it might become impossible.

          And yes, I am serious.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Don’t even think there’s a man involved – or a woman, come to that. I’m neither way inclined.

              You know that feeling when you fall in love? I get that if I think too much about words and why they choose me..

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Am I? I thought so when I was a child, but then the world got bigger and things got broken.

      Don’t take any notice. I think I’ve overdosed on words – that’s what comes of writing about them; I fall in love all over again. I’m running through my comments, while poetry is running through me. Sometimes it gets too much and I can’t focus on anything else. I’m sorry I’m not catching up with your blog. I want to, believe me.

      Like

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