Tag Archives: loss

Farewell to Jenny

Last night

while I wrote remote history, last night
while I revived lowlights of my life, last night
while I cried over a spilled note, last night

Jenny died.

<<@

Jenny,
you wept
even as you entered
the scented season of life.

You felt
– long before the sickening Fall –
– ere grief’s canker grew organic form –
you felt
your roots being gnawed
by flown protectors of your youth
while your sore heart languished between
the spectral hands
of the child
of your womb.

<<@

Jenny,
the woman
that everyone died on;
a truth that consumed you.

Ashes
sullied your cloak of bright colours,
choking your willow courage, yet you fought
far past the darkest hour, beyond the point
where salt
ate your rainbow disguise.
Untiringly you stitched, yet
each time you tried to repair
the flimsy attire
the thread broke.

<<@

Jenny,
I waited, somehow knowing
that we would meet some day. Long before
I saw your face, I sensed your breath on my cheek as if
your spirit whispered to me, yet I did not guess
that our acquaintance would be 
so brief.
We met but once,
a singular meeting which conceived
an embryonic friendship, aborted
by the decree that would
steal you to eternity.
Jenny, it was an honour;
for in those brief moments
you exceeded my hopes.

<<@

Jenny,
you must have shed
a lake of tears deeper than
the raging stream that swept her
to her death. Now
the flood ebbs, eased by your stilled flesh.
Today and for evermore,
may you rest
with your daughter
in peace.

<<@

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Paper Pig

He ignores  my birthday,
waves away Mothering Sunday,
is always on the take,
but he gave me a pig; a frail paper pig
during his prison time.
Confined to solitary for an inside crime,
the man woke to find a lonely child —
the ghost of my son —
in his abandoned soul.
Engaging his flare for origami
he reshaped a pale scrap of waste,
wrote ‘Oink Oink’ on its flank,
and smuggled it past the screws
when I visited him in jail.
I snuck it through the creaking gates
which locked me back in freedom;
a gift of love from a lost one
to a searching mother.

He came home,
but I couldn’t find my child behind his eyes
and he was blinded by the habit
of hiding in his hooded life.

Since he skipped town for the city,
I’ve scrubbed away the filth,
scrapped the waste
he left scattered in his wake.
Thirty years of memories lie buried
in a crate beneath impediments
I save in case of rain,
yet the pig —
the paper pig he made for me —
the pig stands guard upon my shelf,
defending one last inch of who he might have been,
and hinting at the chance of change.
I lift him up and purse my lips
to blow the dust away,
and even though I banish hope
since hope might bring me pain,
with gentle hand I place the pig
back on the shelf again.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Distance Between

BeFunky_327358413_3659773427.jpg

Son,
if time was a kindly two-way lane
I’d turn my laden truck around and speed toward the East,
blanking the maggoty road-kill that festers yet
on the tracks of your pickled yesteryears

your needle pricks
your blood and spit
your flinging tantrums
bunching fists
stealthy falsehoods
blatant tricks
the wars you fought with phonic swords fast-honed on flowing tears;
your armies marched to split my walls
which let in gales of filth and fear
leaving me in defeat
with nothing to eat but the waste from the streets.
You grinned while I choked on the gruesome mince
as if I was having a treat
but your smile couldn’t hide the spin of your mind
or the pit beneath your feet

driving in a straight line until your skin is smooth,
accelerating to let my lorry leap the fall,
then lifting my toes for the peaks of the show.

Never leaving the road,
I would pursue my goal
until I nestled the warm weight of my youngest child,
you, my only son,
your arms enveloping my neck,
fresh-formed fingers hooking my hair,
finding my ear lobes,
nose pressing my throat,
your caress needy,
greedy
like a thief or a breast-fed cub,
your possessive caress
enfolding me
in that heavenly rush
of motherly
love.

Your caress,
your sweet, owning caress
would be my destination,
and the things I know
would sink in an ocean of parental ecstasy.

But time is not a two-way lane;
it’s a taut chain that leads forward
to obscurity, obliterating diamonds in its wake.
If I concentrate
I can synthesise a fleeting sensation of the elation
brought by each childish embrace;
a hint of silver that glitters
beneath the skin of a silted stream,
yet I cannot feel your breath on my neck
or the texture
of your skin warming mine,
and linear time
has no way to erase
the mistakes of the distance between.


My son is currently banished from my life, but I hold him in my heart. I will not capitulate and I will forge forward in life, but I grieve for him and hope that one day he will return to the family that loves him.


©Jane Paterson Basil

Charm Bracelet

charmbracelet

Beneath the dust of rusted dreams
the precious bracelet swings and gleams.

No simple trinket this,
no tinsel sliding from a wilting tree,
no lace that slips from silken locks
to rot, forgotten, in the street.

The blood of ancestry
pulses through this eager chain, its genes
sown in the root of love, its links
tempered in the knitted cogs
of mutual reality.

We can not know
when first we join the clasp,
or as we add each precious charm,
what fist might grip the slender wrist,
or what corrupted implement
might chip and scrape its dancing gems.

We do not always see the claw
before it locks upon a treasured one,
but of this we can be sure;
we hear the thud as it hits the floor.

The lessened weight upon our arm
might give an instant of relief,
but as we rub our tender flesh,
our innards crease and we are flipped
into a keening
pit
of
grief.


Above is the raw version of a poem I wrote today.
Beneath is the start of a more traditional cooked version.
Which do you prefer, salad or stew? Is it worth persisting with the poem below?


Beneath the dust of rusty dreams
the precious bracelet swings and gleams.

No tuppence ha’penny trinket this;
no tinsel on a baubled tree;
no flimsy frippery that slips
from careless tresses to the street.

Within this chain run veins of blood
whose links are tempered through the years;
Knitted loose ’round roots of love
and seasoned by our joy and tears.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Tears I Waste on You

You besmirched this mother’s love
with every chunk of scum that you could scrape up
from the murky lanes.
You crushed me with the weight of waste
until your insults filled my soul with so much pain
that I could no more bare to gaze upon your face
or glance into your eyes, or hear the lies
that dripped from lips whose smiles
once brought me mindless joy.
I’ve closed my door and turned away;
no more can you abuse, manipulate
or scream your dirty words of hate at me.
The tears I waste on you
will all be shed in secret and in shame;
I will never let you see them,
for if you did you’d use them as you do;
to stuff my shelves with toxic space and steal the gain.

I’ll dance in gardens where my finest flowers bloom;
admire their colours, breathe their sweet perfume.
I’ll tell my friends the sturdy stems have healed my wounds;
they do not need to know I ache for you.

The day might come when empathy sinks through your skin;
should that blazing dawn arrive
I recommend you pray that I shall be awake,
and furthermore that I
shall clearly recognise the change.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Purpose

Sometimes it hurts,
and you see no purpose,
no need for the needles of pain.
No reason to search for why it occurred,
or to learn the lessons tucked deep in your brain.
You yearn for a way to rearrange history,
return to yesterday,
change its shape.

You weep and you rage,
you try meditation,
but the answer keeps slipping away.

So you weep and rage,
you rage and you weep,
pain fills your your dreams whenever you sleep
and increases when you awake.

You see no reason,
but you search for a purpose,
if only to soothe the hurt.

Grief heaps up, seemingly endless.
Death is around you, shrouded and soundless,
it threatens your loved ones and rattles the door.

In the still of the morning,
you pick at slim thoughts as you try to assuage the pain.
They dispel like salt in simmering water
and the suffering returns again.

Nobody tells you you’re trying too hard,
and the healing is contained in your subconscious brain.
The only way to access the reason
is to cease entertaining your own narrow theories,
stop looking for answers to your thin queries.

You need to keep active, deal with each day,
make peace with the pain and breathe it in.
Open to the gentlest faith you have hidden
no matter what shape that faith may take.
Whether you connect with the collective consciousness
or follow the lead of a sacred deity
or trust in planet or your brothers and sisters,
hold it within; don’t leave it to stray.

Live life, and love in the best way you’re able,
yet store some spare conscious space in your soul –
but don’t stand waiting for something to fill it,
it is up to the purpose to wait,

it will come to you when you are ready,
and on the highest level,
you will be well.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Dry-eyed Teardrops

snowdrop-2136964__340

Used to wonder why the snowdrops
hung their heads as if in sorrow,
then a young man died and I watched my child
grieve the loss.

When they showed their pale faces again,
I understood.

These early harbingers of spring ease us
towards blossom and bursting buds,
ever obedient to the laws of time –
yet the residue of wintry death hangs behind them,
thinning down optimism.

Twenty-one years have been swept aside
yet each January they gaze mournfully at my feet
to remind me of his smile the day he hugged the shawl
I crocheted
for my unborn grandson.

Nobody saw it coming.
Two months later, the baby
took the name of his late father.

Some say it’s PTSD, but whatever the reason,
while my children grieve their dad’s sudden death,
it’s another face I see.

Soon, there will be a new family in this house
that lies beside my beloved wood.
We will be banished from our place of history.

I’ll whisper goodbye
to the walls that Paul and I wrote on,
laughing in the face of his father’s enraged disapproval
as we made ready to conceal them beneath two coats of paint.
Maybe some day the emulsion will peel away
and folks will see the wild, mild,
childishly anarchic scribbles of a mother and her son:
goolies, boobies, poo and do-do.

I’ll say goodbye to the rooms I repaired and painted,
the kitchen and bathroom I designed and created,
breaking down walls and building new, mixing plaster, sawing wood,
drilling, fixing, making,
working through the night to keep sleepless thoughts at bay
until the day I found the courage to walk away
from the home I loved
with such passion.

I’ll turn away from the garden I worked so hard on,
shaping flowerbeds and terracing,
sowing seeds and watching perennials grow,
only to see it wrecked when I left.

I’ll shout goodbye to memories of misery
and hope that the happy times
might be restored in my mind.

I’ll wave a regretful farewell to the trees
and to my dry-eyed,
virgin teardrops with their frill of new-born green.
Goodbye, goodbye.
I will think of you at this time of year
forever more,
and always recall a young man’s warm smile
as he contemplated the birth of his child,
never suspecting it may be
his final
perfect
moment
in time.

©Jane Paterson Basil