Tag Archives: Reena’s Exploration Challenge

Being There

week-38.jpg

It is a collage this week. Writers will connect to it easily.

challenge-38.jpg

So, let the fingers align to imagination, and bang on the keyboard. The format can be a a story/poem/rant/anecdotes/journalistic coverage of events/ reflections as usual.
Pour out, and let it flow ….


Flipping in long grass,
skipping, leap-frogging, cartwheeling over stiles,
feet so fleet it feels like flying,
flopping to sit cross-legged on fragrant nature’s floor.
Grass stained shorts. Grubby fingernails
cut careful slits through slim daisy stems.
Threading, making chains to dangle from supple neck.
Carefree sunshine and family love.

Once, this was me.

Breasts swelling, bursting
from a shock-horror bra, hips curving,
and worse, a monthly sticky thing that hurts,
which Grandma calls the curse.
Father stealing small licks to assuage the tip
of his hunger.
Mother loving, supporting
this poor little changeling.

Feeling dirty. filthy images of hot flesh slapping,
moist organs fitting,
slipping wetly together. Precocious hormones
that battle against desire,
hermaphrodite side crying “Let me
be a child”,
yet all the while learning the wanton game.

A teen with a siren’s face,
miming like a pro. Anything goes,
as long as it excludes loosening her clothes.
No sense of danger, blindly embracing
masked neighbour that ambles her way.

Rape and beatings, beatings and rape.
burst head, bleeding flesh, blurred vision,
cigarette burns, fractured limbs, bruises
that cannot be hidden. Torn wings
of a butterfly, entrenched in threats
that he may fulfil.
“I will kill”, he says.
“I will
kill
your family,
I will kill them if you hide from me.”

Weeping admission. Gentle assistance.
A groggy leap from the sizzling grill, only to slip
into spinning with trolls, a racy dance of ring-a-ring-o’-roses,
taking risks to prove she’s ahead of the game,
trying to hide her confusion and pain,
all of it fake, played out in vain.

Atishoo, atishoo,
she’s falling again.

Learning to stand,
wooing and wedding a kindly man,
only to fling him away.
To add to mistakes and shame,
the new man she catches, rapes her brain.
Years of fighting to gain control,
while the monster hints that she’s going insane
tripping and falling and failing again. Flailing.

An ill-planned, yet helpful escape.

Too late, she examines the damage.
Trailing her feet along a rough cloister, wrought
from life’s ill-conceived choices.
To the right, bright window panes reveal smiling faces.
Hands wave. She stretches her arms,
but can’t reach.
To her left, dust, rubble, crumbling walls.
Jagged scraps from her womb bear witness to her weakness, grimacing
as they juggle with jesters and thieves,
screeching to be healed.

A mouth opens.
A silent scream struggles out, to ricochet
off the ceiling. She swallows it in one.
It crushes her lungs.

“Please let me breathe.”

Rising up. Her children will not
be defeated by their demons.
Whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes…

This, too, was me.

A lone woman,
wizened by a boxed-up heap of experience,
sits in a high backed chair,
watching trees. The leaves expand into a screen
which conceals iniquity.
From her position, she can see
a clean horizon, distant meadows, whirling angels
that create sustainable energy, life-giving earth,
acres of sky.
Sometimes it rains,
but the sun soon breaks through.
When tears threaten, she strokes the jagged splits
that ripped deep through her skin, and feels
smooth silver strings weld and heal.
She is satisfied.
At night, she catches her reflection in the glass.
The allure that shaped her darker days
has faded with age.
Now, she is beautiful.

This woman is me.

.

Any life which stretches to reasonable longevity is like a massive chunk of quartz, cut from rock. Depending on the angle and brightness of the light, and on where you are standing, different facets can are visible. Also, the viewer approaches the quartz with his own pre-conceptions, interests and focus to detail. Furthermore, our aspects can change over time – even in the blink of an eye. This is one story of my life,  but – apart from the closing stanza – I displayed it from the dark side of the moon. I have many happy memories.

… an afterthought; reading through this longwinded poem, I learnt a horrifying new fact about my past – a detail that was staring me in the face, and yet I didn’t see it. While it won’t harm my emotions too much, I don’t think I’m ready to talk about it, but I mention it because, even viewed through the muddiest of lights, its still possible to spot new facets

Thanks go to Reena, for the inspiration.
©Jane Paterson

Knitting a Life

 

doll-2747458_960_720.png

When your place in this world
becomes too complex to contemplate,
and the origin of the grit in your eye
can no longer be placed,
it is best to meditate
on the inch of fine thread
that will lead you to the next step.

Take it one stitch at a time,
and don’t worry about
the final shape
of the finished piece.


There is a time for forward planning; a time to set goals and work toward ambitious aspirations. There is also a time to focus only on the next small step, not trying to control or manipulate future events. Knitting has helped me to focus on the moment, and stop trying to force change. Right now, if I stay calm and trust the future to unfold gently, it is more likely to do so.


Inspired by a ball of wool and Reena’s Exploration Challenge.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Healing. Part 2

 

challenge-11

 

exploration-challenge-11

This is part two of my response to Reena’s Exploration Challenge Week 11. You can find part 1 HERE.

The first part of my post covers the first question – although it doesn’t do so until you reach almost to the end of the poem. 🙂 Now for my answer to the second question:

I described my daughter as an angry fox. I chose the metaphor to match her hair; some of you will know it has a lovely red glow to it. Also, owing to my surname and the colour of my own hair (which has since faded to a lighter colour) I used to go by the nickname of Basil Brush. Basil Brush was a fictional fox in the form of a puppet that starred in a popular children’s comedy TV show in the ’70s.

It wasn’t the best metaphor I could have chosen, but once I started, I decided to run with it. The most accurate thing about my story is its ending. The night my youngest daughter came to me, broken and bleeding after a violent attack, from a man who tried but failed to break her neck (the memory of which still makes me cry), I knew there had been a change in her perspective, and if she could hold onto it for long enough to make that change a reality, I knew it would change my life.

Has my perspective changed? Yes, it has. Laura has risen far above my highest expectations. She’s made me more proud than I ever thought possible, and more than that, she’s been instrumental in my son’s recovery from addiction. Paul’s journey has been hard; he’s undertaking his recovery in his home town, learning to avoid the triggers which must pop up daily. Even the staircase to my flat is a trigger. I don’t often speak  about Paul; his addiction stripped him of all compassion, leading him to  hurt me deeply throughout those torturous years. The wounds are slow to heal, but we’re making good progress. He switched to a vegan diet a while ago, so lot of his attention is concentrated on food. He and his girlfriend have offered to cook me a meal next week. I look forward to it with relish. He’s a good cook, but more than that, it will be another step towards healing.

Now it is time to turn my mind to the rest of my family. My two elder daughters have suffered too, but through their suffering, I have always known I can count on their support. My oldest grandson has been witness to things he should never have seen, but he’s come through like the champion he is. It’s been difficult to maintain close relationships with my four younger grandsons, so I have a lot of ground to make up.

(Life is not always easy for the siblings of prodigal children. I must tell them that my pride is not limited to those who have recently returned to the fold. I must let them know that they are magnificent.)

Looking back at my life, I can see how my strength has increased, along with the increasing difficulties I’ve faced. It’s a bit like weight lifting – as the weights get heavier, your muscles split and heal continuously.  My mental health has suffered, but I do my best to keep on top of it, constantly reviewing and learning.

I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be, and happier than I had come to expect.

Yes, yes, yes; my perspective has changed, but only for the better.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Healing. Part 1

challenge-11

exploration-challenge-11

.

THE ANGRY FOX

There was a separation between my life before the angry fox arrived, and all that followed.

She – for it was a she – brought pain, but that was not the fault of the fox. How can I lay blame on carnivorous nature, or demand perfection to reign amid the complexities of this, or any, era?

Like an orphan, she cried out for love, but with no blueprint for such emotion and no clue of my sentience, she mistook the empty space in her parched heart for hunger.

Dancing around my legs like a feather-light, fleet-footed boxer, she easily evaded my amateur parry, taking every opportunity to bite chunks out of me. Whether growling or wheedling, she always succeeded in beating me.

Repeatedly I silenced my screams as her teeth sank into me.

The wild fox fed voraciously until she had her fill — keen for the meat, but shy of the kill, leaving me still breathing, her foxy instinct needling her, telling her she needed me, even as she misconstrued the shape of that need.

Friends advised me to drive her away; to hide within my walls, lock and bar my doors, or to flee, but I could no more do that
than amputate a limb;

I would not
give up on my
beloved fox.

Soon, my meat was too scant to satisfy. She sought more dangerous fare; creeping where wolves prowl and hyenas leave only the crunched
bones of small creatures.

She hid in the wasteland, chasing chameleons, in the expectation that they could make up the insufficiency – following those deceivers, letting them lead her into the fray where my wounded fox could only lose.

Damaged and confused, she often came back to me, each time more battle-scarred and emaciated, yet still too blind to seek sanctuary.

Like a blubbering fool, I described the bludgeoned depths of my mothering soul, showed her safe roads where hunters never lifted a gun, drew pictures of the sun warming olives in Spain, painted all sorts of possibilities, describing every style of happy ending to our story, begging for release from her ravening teeth.

But foxes don’t speak the same language. As if in retribution for my insufferable, indecipherable noise, she took another bite, chewed, then limped away,

to dredge the depths for dread, grinning enemies; beasts who fought for grim death in that killing place, unknowingly swallowing themselves whole, all of them escapees from hope.

Years passed. The day came when I knew I had to refuse her entry; she’d almost eaten me away, yet she still hadn’t learned where the hunger lay. Maybe if she found a lesser place to feed, she would come to see the truth of her needs. Only then would she be free.

She prowled around my grounds, growling. If I left the house, sometimes she’d find me, and take a brief nip before I fled.

After a while I became a source of confusion; she’d sniff the air, then wander away, a bemused look of longing bending her frame. I watched that longing become an ache, and the ache become an agonising pain.

I saw her from my window when she trotted up with a bunch of white flowers in her mouth. After she’d gone, I plucked them from my doorstep. Tears fell on them as I placed them in water.

I began to leave small treats for my grieving fox – making sure she wasn’t around, placing them a distance from my house and scuffling away.

One day she came to me, dragging the metal jaws of a familiar trap. She was beaten down, ready to chew off her leg. Pitiful whimpers dribbled from her bleeding mouth, dripping down her jowls, as she clung on to the failing embers of her life. Running to her side, I checked the trap; rusty from age and misuse, it took no more than a glance; an undisguised look of love, to prize it apart. This time, she didn’t snap.

As her shocked eyes sought mine
the picture melted into an end and a beginning;
she’d found what she never knew she’d been looking for;
surprised to realise that it had been there all the time.

Behind us, wild beasts wallowed and sank in the dirt that they made, their frail veins freezing beneath the heat of failed dreams.

Ahead of us lay a welcoming road, banked by hedgerows laced with early sun-kissed blooms, part-shaded by green-budded trees that dappled the track with pink shadows. A short way ahead a simple dwelling beckoned – my home, her sanctuary, Beyond was a crossroads, its sign draped in wild roses and honeysuckle. On each arm was written the same word: freedom.

She licked my skin, nuzzled me, and gently, she wrapped herself around me.

Softly she spoke:

“I love you, mum.”

Sensing a shift in my body, I glanced down and saw that my scars were already healing. I had become strong.

Turning to her, I noticed that she had grown taller than me.

***

This story spans almost thirty-two years. It’s hard to find a metaphor that covers the essence of it, since there have been so many twists and turns in that time, and – like all of our lives – my life consists of a mass of tangled stories, many of them mine to a greater or lesser degree, while there are others in which I have only a walk-on part, or act as understudy to a secondary character. Therefore, I present this as a work of fiction, inspired by Reena, who has thoughtfully chosen to continue her Exploration Challenge.

 

As this is such a long-winded poem, I’ve split my response to the challenge  into two parts. This part of my post covers the first question – although it doesn’t do so until you reach almost to the end of the poem. 🙂 You can find Part 2 HERE.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Mumbling Sheep

week-10.jpg

At the start of the end of the heady hippie days
I briefly dipped my toes in the sinking hippie ways.
I floated in long dresses and I jingled as I walked,
I used the hippie lingo every time I talked.
I tried smoking cannabis, but not for very long;
it took all my sense away and made me feel wrong.

I never fancied LSD – I liked to see the world
in its organic gorgeousness, not twisted and unfurled.
I disagreed with half the things the lippy hippies said;
they thought they were original, but their minds half dead.
They told me I was brainwashed because my ideas
were far too well-considered for their dippy hippie ears.

They said that they were breaking out of mediocrity,
they said their way of life was a better way to be,
they said they wanted peace and an end to all the killing,
but when I asked for action, few of them were willing.
They spoke of demonstrations, but they always missed the train,
or they couldn’t be bothered, or they feared that it might rain.

I was often irritated by their inconsistency;
the only thing they stood up for was brewing cups of tea.
Most of them were stoned from smoking Mary Jane,
a few of them were tripping, and one had gone insane
from swallowing blues, snorting speed and smoking weed —
to put it very bluntly, they had all gone to seed.

It’s true that their culture had seen some better days,
but I met a lot of mumbling sheep, slumped in a fuzzy haze;
while I was a thinker, and I let my thoughts run free,
they were more concerned with the psychedelic creed.
They agreed with whatever concepts stood at odds
with all the world’s hard working, deep thinking bods.

It was interesting at first, and fun for a bit,
but it wasn’t very long before I had to admit
I didn’t fit in with my drug-loving friends
who spoke of new beginnings, but never tied up ends.
I looked like a hippie, but I felt no passion
for the pseudo hippiedom in local fashion.

Written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #Week 10.

©Jane Paterson Basil

A Terrible Intimacy

week-8

I have skittered around the jagged rim of it –
have cringed from its septic snag, standing well back,
pressing against the walls of my cell in the undisguised hell of my life,
thinking to escape its gnashing teeth.
I’ve hidden behind a false smile or fallen with
silent or searing scream while the buzzing in my brain kept
sanity away and all the time I believed
I was being brave.
Don’t give in to it. Don’t let it in or
the monsters will carry you away.
It will scratch your skin, but if you have the will you can
be a wisp of smoke, a ribbon of unreality, you can
cease to be if only for the moment. You can
die in spirit so the hurt won’t reach you. You can
escape the worst of it.

And suddenly it engulfs you, all of it, every last bit, every
truth and falsehood they dripped into your head, every
needle that they drove through the skin designed to protect
those children you loved even as they were forming in your womb,
and you feel it all, every attack and defence, everything
they broke within and without, everything
they did, everything,
every last pain that they inflicted,
every
single
minute of it.

It’s all there, every inch if agony they
pushed into themselves and you. It’s a force that fills
your body, works its way between the
layers of muscle and fat, courses
through the bloodstream and presses against the flesh. It
pulls you to the floor, drags you into a foetal position and
you’re panting like a dog, fighting
to gain control, but it holds fast to you, until
finally your fight is all gone.

That’s when it loosens its grip a little, leaving
you free; free to allow its firm embrace, free to feel
it flow through you, around you, above and below you.
It sweeps through you like a clean
spring of pure love or pure hatred, and now that you have
made your peace with it, you’re no longer sure of the difference
between agony and ecstasy. There is only the fact of it,
the unity, the bond between you and this caressing pain.

You lie with it awhile,
feeling your heartbeat decrease,
hearing the blood cease its humming,
noticing the world become still,
returning its embrace.

You have loved
and you have lain with men,
but now you know you have never let them in.
You have never allowed this
terrible intimacy.

It’s neither the best or the worst moment of your life,
and it is nothing in between these extremes;
it just is. It is all of you and none of you.
It is horror and fulfilment and emptiness.
It is all and nothing.
It is home.

Soon you will rise back into your life.
Nothing external will have changed, but you will
breathe, and for a while you will
know how to cry.

Written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #Week 8

©Jane Paterson Basil

A Speck of Energy

Reena’s Exploration Challenge

Reena-week-6

With grateful thanks to Reena who this week asks us:

What is it that makes you feel powerful? What is that strength which makes your time on this planet worthwhile?

A SPECK OF ENERGY

When Spring rains tease, and make believe
this year there’ll be no splashing seaside days —
no beach ball play, no sandy feet, or plastic spades —
I smile to hear my friends’ predictable complaints,
then, when fickle summer deigns to show its heated face,
I bathe in its flirtatious fleeting phase.

When sunny haze gives way to skittering breeze
that flutters fading flags from yawning trees,
to drop them all in heaps
on forest floors and fields and lawns,
it saddens me to see them crackle in the gardener’s autumn blaze,
and turn to ash as if they have
no valid place in fenced-in, trim hedge symmetry,
yet even boot-black ash has energy,
and with a ready partner, synergy ensues.

The winter wind and snowy cold bring mixed emotions to my bursting soul,
but all in all, each season has its virtues.

I’m humbled by the size and quantity of life. I often wonder how I signify,
impotent as I am to rectify the cruel wrongs I see,

but then I feel approaching storm
whose electricity, far from numbing me with fear,
elates each atom of my fumbling frame.
With rising thrill I lock my door and run outside to face the gale
and find a hill to climb
that I may watch the angry might of lightening
illuminate the sky, and hear the thunder rumbling to remind me:
this is power, and it is mine.

It may strike me down,
or it may let me live, but whatever the decision,
I am an invincible, though infinitesimal, grain of matter,
an intrinsic speck of the energy of this astonishing organism
we call Planet Earth,
and, having been created at her birth,
Neither you nor I can be destroyed,
only repeatedly altered in form.

Some future day my nutrients may feed a seedling
or keep a mighty tree alive;
a tree which will contain me even after its trunk crumbles
and it bows to a fresh partner,
preparing to dance to a new tune
in the megalithic cycle of life.

.

Or to put it another way:

STORM11.jpg

awakens my

elecric energy

and makes me feel

powerful1.jpg

©Jane Paterson Basil

Civilisation

strategies

Amidst the towering rocks and speckled sand, far beyond our village, scattered, dust-clothed debris hunkers, the meaning of each piece a mystery to be puzzled over.

The old ones tell tales that have been passed down through generations. No doubt, with each telling, some details have shrunk, while others have swelled.

They speak of a long-lost existence called civilisation; a way of being that was better than this. They say there are clues in the artefacts that rust and decay in the sun and rain. They say these are scraps of something called machine, which made life easy, and that something called electron made it fun. Furthermore, humankind once had the voices of giants, which could be heard from the place where the sun rises all the way to where it sets. They had wings to fly high up in the sky, even to the stars.

They claim that those who went before could swim for weeks beneath the sea inside a waterproof hut, constructed from the twisted lumps of stuff that sinks into the wasteland where children are discouraged from playing; the stuff as hard and dead as stone that never shrinks or grows, but only feeds the weeds that dig their roots around their seams. The stuff that they made machine from.

Safely stored deep in dry caves are thousands of oblong blocks of a flimsy material called paper, and each piece is spread with intricate marks called writing. There are pictures too. The old ones think that some of them are pictures of machine and electron, but no one knows which ones they could be; the world must have been very different then – even some of the drawings of flowers and trees are unfamiliar.

It is said that these oblongs are our heritage. The old ones, and some of the young, try to make sense of them, since some say that they are messages from the Gods; instructions on how to build the world the way it was before.

They say this would be a good thing, but I’m not sure.

I think about machine and electron, about the loud talking and the flying and the swimming beneath the sea.

I wonder what happened to the civilisation race. Where did they go, and why did they leave just a few behind? Did they die, as some say, or did they go to live on the blind side of  the moon, as others believe?

It is evening. Children dance and play in the dusk, lovers lean toward each other. The old ones smile contentedly and share our traditional jokes, which make us all laugh, while the rest of us absorb the peace as each of us carries out a given task.

At this time of day, everybody is contented. It is too dark to see the writing and the pictures, so nobody speaks of civilisation. That is breakfast-time talk.

Surrounded by my people, I crouch over the pile of wood in the centre of our village, rubbing two sticks together. As the fire builds, you lift the big pot onto it. Bending down, you place your hand on my swelling belly. As I look into your eyes, I see a bright reflection of flame, and it brings a revelation;

Civilisation is a word for people living a civilised life, being civil. Civilisation must surely mean peace, and we have it right here. We don’t need machine.

Although my story strays a little way from the requirements, this was written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge Week 5  Maybe you would like to join in with this thought-provoking challenge.

<> <> <>

.Words for Peace #3

Today’s word for peace comes from the Philippines. It is in Filipino (tagalog). Tagalog is the first language of 28 million people in a country that has 185 languages. 

Filipino (tagalog) word for Peace
 
Kapayapaan
.
For pronunciation, go to https://forvo.com/search/kapayapaan/
.
Grateful thanks to Raili, who supplied today’s word.

©Jane Paterson Basil