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,
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
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.
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,
that nobody listened,
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
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.
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
you who read me.
Written for the Word Of The Day Challenge: Sensitivity
©Jane Paterson Basil