Category Archives: family

Serving my Time

My childless friends said eighteen years
was steep for such a crime,
while I grinned back and said the tears
were few, and that my time
would pass too quickly; all too fast
my son would reach my height
and days of needing me would pass –
I wish that I’d been right.

I nursed him through the broken nights
and through his growing days.
I taught him all the wrongs and rights,
and cherished all his ways.
I slavered salve on every pain
of body and of mind;
so many cures that have no name
a mother seeks to find.

And now those years are past and gone,
and a lesson I have learned –
my jesting friends were all quite wrong,
where my child was concerned;
Those eighteen years were just the start –
the nurturing and tears –
they added muscle to my heart,
and strength to fight my fears.

My thirty-year old son has grown
but still he is a child.
He’s lost, confused and all alone,
his inner core defiled,
so now I find my mother’s role
has only just begun;
I’ll work with body, mind and soul,
until success is won.

One day he’ll stand up brave and tall,
his wants and needs aligned;
he will not falter, trip or fall,
his future redesigned.
He’ll come to me with his own plan
and lay it on the floor,
drawn up by his manly hands,
how could I ask for more?

.

OK, so the poem is a bit cheesy, but it’s sincere…

©Jane Paterson Basil

My Cup Runneth Over

In a quiet village not far from here, a modest church waits expectantly, its ancient stones imbibed with the breath of those who went before, grooms who faced the alter, bravely restraining an urge to pace the floor, brides who carefully swept down the aisle, eyes shining as a shy smile landed like a kiss on the groom’s lips.

Today, the church is again filled with fragrant flowers, in preparation for the joining of another two lovers in joyful matrimony

Never have I attended a ceremony so infused with excitement, and I –  I am the mother of the bride – the slightly eccentric mother of the miraculous bride. I feel my smile widening as I greet the other guests. I am at my best today, carrying myself with something akin to dignity. I won’t be climbing trees in this dress. For once it will be easy to resist the urge to walk along the top of the church wall.

A woman stands behind a window at the front of a house, watching us in all our finery. I turn towards her, and am treated to an enthusiastic wave. I grin and wave back.

I want to call out “Just wait until you see the bride. You have a real treat coming.”

I want to tell her how important this wedding is.

The air fills with fresh possibilities as my family is finally re-united by the love tha Laura and Dave have for each other.

The bells ring to call in the guests. I enter the church sit down at the front, happy that this event will be witnessed by those I love the most. I’m trying to send a psychic message to Dave, the groom, to calm him, but my mind is too focused on the door, knowing it is almost time. The bells stop ringing. The moment has come.

The chatter subsides as we all stand to await the bride.
The door opens, and she arrives.
Stepping down the aisle, she takes her place beside the groom.

This is my amazing daughter, no longer my poor unhappy baby, my confused child, my damaged teenager, my dying young woman. This is my extraordinary Laura, grown into herself, finally healed, walking gracefully into her future.

The ceremony is beautiful.

At the reception, everyone is infected by Laura’s sparkly euphoria. We are all thrilled that Laura and Dave are married.

While Laura and Dave perform the ritual of cutting the cake,  I prepare to divide it into slices. Since I decorated it, it seems only fair that I should be the one to destroy it…

Mr and Mrs Galliford are currently in Cornwall, at the start of their honeymoon tour of the UK. They were going to travel around Europe, but they changed their minds. There’s so much variety in this country, and Laura hasn’t seen enough of She sent me a photo of her lying on a lounger – sunbathing!

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I guess she’s got her love to keep her warm.

 

Enjoy your honeymoon, Laura – and the rest of your life. Your courage and strength has paid off. I’m proud of you, and grateful to Dave, for all the support he has given.

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I love you, Laura.

xxx

With enormous thanks to all my online friends who helped to make this possible, by praying for, and sending positive thoughts to Laura and I. Your messages of support picked Laura up when she was at her lowest, encouraging her, making her feel nurtured, and helping her to  believe that she could change her life. You also restored my faith in her, giving me the strength to do the things which needed to be done. These are no small acts, since you kick-started the miracle. Without you, I don’t believe she would be where she is today. I doubt that she would even be alive.

Does anybody have a tissue…?

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

A Thought

You can’t reach
prunish age without a few
cracks and bruises,
and you can’t
always
protect your children.

We tell our tales,
then cheerfully say,
“the breakages
shaped who I became.”

This is true,
yet who among us
wants our children to
suffer the pain
that we went through
on the way
to where we are today?

I think of you,
an extended picture of youth,
yet I
see the wounds.

I could say
my arms were full
of food for the hungry,
of balm for the lame.
I could say there
were too many places,
too few of me
but you needed me too.

While I know
you don’t blame me;
don’t even know
that you’re broken,
I wish that I’d
held you more carefully,
and when you fell, mended you
more skilfully.

xxx

©Jane Paterson Basil

I Ran out of Space

Saw her from my window,
arms crossed
against every remembered
and forgotten loss,
cold-shouldering
her shadow, practicing
self-defence, envisioning
black scribbles
on the unwritten
pages of her book,
all hope stolen
by tenacious history
that still physically
clings.

Her walk is like yours,
her hair –
and not so long ago,
you, too, were closed,
hugging despair to
your ribs,
but you shared
every ache with me,
venting your rage,
cutting me with your pain,
locking me into
your danger, enabling me
to lead you to safety.

I loved all of you equally,
but, in midst of the melee,
I ran out of space
and, without complaint,
she silently fell away.

xxx

©Jane Paterson Basil

Charred remains

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You delivered him in pain,
yet with his emergence, pain eased
and love took its place.

His innocent face,
his little boy’s embrace –
they were sweet life to you,
and you trusted that nothing he would do
could take that away.

Slowly he grew.
You heard rumours,
but you didn’t think they were true;
each time he looked at you,
you got lost in his eyes;
taken in by his lies.

When deceit comes easy to a child,
danger can ensue,
and though he later rues his wayward ways,
he is not wired for change.

Thrills burn bright, making sparks fly;
they alight on those he claims to love the most.
When storms rage, the fire dies
leaving a lonely hole,
dusted with the charred remains of all your hopes.

You delivered him in pain,
and through the tender, loving years,
you tried to teach a better way to be,
yet failed to keep him safe.

Blackened by the flames,
flattened by the falling rain,
still you would willingly risk any pain
if you could only make him well again,
but you have no potency to deliver him
from the grip of his sickness.

.

The Daily Post #Delivery

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Author of my Being. Part 1

MY DAD. By Jane Basil, aged 8 years and 7 months

My dad’s the best. He can do anything. He can draw and paint, make sculptures and pots,build walls and shelves, and fit doors and window frames. He can answer any question and tell you whatever you want to know. He’s the cleverest dad there is.

My dad’s quite famous and is sometimes on TV. People want to meet him, and talk to him about art. I think he likes the women that come to see him best. They come a lot. 

My dad treats me well and tells me I can do whatever I like with my life. He says the only limit is my ambition. He knows I’m a girl, because everyone says that when I was born he was thrilled to have a daughter, but he lets me do the same things as him. I can help to mix concrete, and put up a course of bricks. I can knock nails in straight almost every time. Yesterday I carried tiles up a ladder, and handed them to him, so he could mend the roof, but today I’m helping my mum in the kitchen.

Dad’s in the studio side of his workroom doing stuff I can’t help him with.

My mum’s lovely and ever so kind, and cooking’s all right, but it’s for girls. I’m certain there’s been a mistake; I was meant to be a boy.

>

I’m ten years old.
Naked women crowd our living space,
their painted shapes pressed against framed glass,
or shaped in oak and in clay, arranged just so, on every flat space.
Shelves bend beneath the weight of fat albums
brimming with glossy breasts and hips, captured in Kodak Bromide.

In the workshop, chippings curl beside finest chisels.
Deep within an oaken block, another naked form
waits patiently to be unpeeled by her master’s eager hand.
No more than a coy shoulder is yet revealed.
Her eyes have not been created, and cannot see the devan,
where a lady lies, and the camera clicks.

My mother speaks gently of the aesthetic beauty of the fleshy curve,
making no mention of lascivious urges.
I see no trace of bitterness on her face,
or guess at any untold ache.

I’m too young to think of lipsticked kisses,
of tangled tongues or stolen intimacies.
Too young to place the scent of my father’s sins.
I think he’s the best; I bask in his praise
and revel in every task he sets me.
He seems to silently accept that I need to be a boy.
Maybe he sees that it’s better this way,
as girls are prettier than me

To my shame, my body is changing.
I can’t stem the growth, or the flow of blood and time.
All the same, I feel proud when my father suggests photographs;
he’s taken no pictures of me since I was three years old,
and even then his act was unwilling.

I choose a bulky jumper to cover up my determined bumps.

After a couple of clicks, he wants me to take it off.

He’s my father, so where’s the harm?

(A lifetime later, I still blush when I see what he has done to me. My blouse is a shiny sky blue, and he has made me pull at the hem, exposing the shape of my breasts, and look down, as if I am admiring them.)

Next, he wants me to remove my top. I love this man;
if it were possible,
I would stand naked for him, but I can’t.
I’m embarrassed, but there is something else,
something very wrong.
I try to grab it it, to find a diagnose,
but I feel dizzy.
My ears ring, making me stutter as I utter my refusal.

I’m hot, and something is dying. I can feel it in the air.

His game lost, he selects his consolation prize.
He chooses disgusting French kisses, and a grinding grope.
I see his eyelids droop as he considers the ultimate crime,
but he crushes the idea.

With a sneer he says
“I think you enjoy being kissed like that.
I think it makes you feel good,
but you’d prefer it with someone younger.”

I can’t speak for horror and lack of oxygen.
I feel nausea rising.
Grasping the door handle, I stagger
out into the fresh air and spit.
I spit and spit,
but the taste of my father’s iniquity has spread
to my gut. It has filled my lungs
and is making its way to my heart.

I

am

ten

years

old.

Without warning, war has begun.

There will be retribution for my denial of his will.

There will be revenge that he dare not steal his filthy thrill.

He will bend my childish spirit and redesign my mind.

>

I chose not to include images, as none would be appropriate, except the photos he took of me, and my scanner won’t let me upload them – perhaps it’s concerned for my modesty.

to be continued…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Leaving home

leaving home

Whenwe  left the smog of the city to live in this backwater place, I lay curled in my mother’s womb. Although my family was looked upon as foreign by the rural folk, this is the only home I’ve ever known. As the popoulation grew, attracting those from distant towns and counties, I rose from my outsider status to become a local. My roots struggled to find a way through the stony soil, and tenaciously they clung. My four children came into being, and were raised here; seeds of the next generation which now thrives. All of my descendants save for one – my grandson, currently at University – are within this ancient burrough, within easy reach of me.

My daughter is at the graveside of her beloved, saying goodbye. Her bags are packed. I put them in the car, to save having to slog later. I come back to the flat and switch on my laptop. It’s slow to warm up, so I go to the bedroom to apply some hand lotion, and see the gap where her possessions had been.

With a jolt similar to a jagged bolt of electricity, it hits me. Aged thirty-one, my little girl  is leaving home.

Written for The Daily Post #Jolt

©Jane Paterson Basil

This is living

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A snippet of my day. Written for The Daily Post’s Prompt #Lovingly

Walking in the rain, grateful to have it dampen my face, feeling alive, batting away complaints from those who forget it sustains us. Mineral rich, we are earth and water, dry skin contains wet inside.

Rivers running down man’s roads, man’s transport making a splash, soaking my thighs, making me smile.

“This is living,” I think.

Unhappy umbrella people dripping by, deep worries submerged beneath the perceived tragedy of wet weather.

She comes down the lane where people seem to meet by chance, neat hair flying despite the damp, walking like a royal in a rush, when she sees me. She looks at me Lovingly, hurriedly hugs me, tells me she loves me, to which I reply in kind, and then she’s gone. I walk on, my smile widening, my great day hitched to a higher notch.

This is living. I feel alive again.

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I met my daughter, Laura, with her boyfriend, in almost exactly the same place as I last saw my son – a well-used thoroughfare near our town’s bus station. She said they needed to get to the bank. It was only  a few minutes to closing time. I’ve seen the facial expression, the stance, and the walk of the addict dashing off to score drugs. Neither Laura or Joe displayed any of those characteristics I know so well; they were just a normal couple in a hurry to get somewhere before it closed, walking, heads held high, with an innocence of mind.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Somewhere he walks with children

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I loved my uncle Robert even though – or perhaps partly because – he was an irrepressible, irrisponsible alcoholic.

I was nine the first time we sat at the mouth of a river, drinking cider that he’d hidden inside his jacket. My mother and aunt believed him when he said we were looking for shells.

In the mornings it was best to leave him sleeping until late, when he was ready to wake, to evade his ill-tempered hangovers, but the rest of the time he was endlessly entertaining to we children, even though he may irritate anyone over twenty eight or so.

I must have been eighteen when his lung cancer was diagnosed. What with his dicky heart, his schlerotic liver and other complications, his body was not strong enough to survive.

After he died, my brother’s best friend, Pete, with whom I had dallied for a while, wrote a eulogy. The guy wanted to be Bob Dylan, but couldn’t, as the post had already been taken by a better poet.

Pete’s pretentious poem was read out at the funeral, accompanied by his inflatable ego. It claimed that my uncle knew something clever about glass houses which the rest of us didn’t. It sounded good, but wasn’t true; all my uncle knew was where to get the next drink, and how to blow up balloons so children would follow him down the street, in a parody of the pied piper, but without any harm coming to them. He loved children because he never ceased being one.

They laughed as they ran, and so did I, but the laughter stopped for a time after he died.

Maybe I grew up that day, standing with my family as his coffin was lowered into its resting place. I tried to see his face through the wood; to take in the truth of what it cantained. I had seen him several hours after he stopped breathing, and yet it was difficult to understand this final leaving.

My left hand clutched a sodden tissue to wipe my stinging eyes; my right one was plunged deep inside my pocket, fingers squeezing secret balloons in the bright hues he had liked. I’d placed them there with the intention of filling them with air while the grieving trickled dirt into the horrid oblong hole, but when the moment came I thought it would appear pretentious; just as Pete’s poem bore no relation to my uncle in life, so the balloons bore no relation to him in death, and there was a risk they may upset my aunt, who already gave the impression that her face was melting.

Those balloons stayed in my pocket for months before I threw them away. Even then I wondered if, in not inflating them, I had let my uncle down.

The last wisps of resentment cling tenuously as I admit P. had previously written a bitter poem about me, making the damning claim that I was a fake (to which I would have liked, childishly, to respond, “It takes one to know one). The reason? I didn’t love him.

Maybe he thought my uncle did, but Robert was pretty indifferent to all but children, mothers, relatives and alcohol.

The one thing P. said which made sense was:

Somewhere he walks with children

I hope he does.

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©Jane Paterson Basil