Near Drowning

Inspired by Beth Taylor and Faye Benedict to engage in Memoir writing, not to mention some sunny days in the past week and good swimming, I found myself remembering a very different beach. When I was nine years old, my sisters and I were caught by the outgoing tide at Castlerock, in the North of Ireland. Sadly, there are often drownings on this coast, but we were fortunate, all rescued, and forever after have respect for the water.

Near Drowning

I am swimming
There is only me and my body
And water. No-one else.

Each breath is breathed in fear
Salt wet wild water
Does not care where it goes
Following wind and tide it throws
Cold slaps on my eyes and into my nose
My mouth is shut tight against it

I need my arms and hands to swim
I cannot wipe my eyes
I remember to close my fingers
So my palms and hands are wide
to make better paddles.
To push the water.

I count, one, thrust hands arrow forward
Two, turn the palms
Three, pull the water.
All the time kick, then breathe.
My arms are tired.
One, two, three.

Breathe, push, pull, kick
Arms ache. Push, Pull.
So long. So much water to pull
Water in eyes doesn’t matter.
Eyes see a short way to shore. Push
No change, ever the same distance. Pull

Want to see sand. Push
Just water. Pull.
I cannot feel my arms. Push.
I cannot feel. Pull.
There is a man with black hair.
In the water in his clothes. Push.

It is a tweed jacket, tough wool.
Pull. He holds my body
The cloth scrunches rough against my face.
Thank you arms.
Rest now trembling, trembling.
Thank you, man.

I wish I remembered you.
I remember the rough weave of your coat.

It should be added, all I actually remember is all about ME. What I have been told is that my older sister, Veronica who was ten, and could swim a bit, held on to our youngest sister Irene, and so saved her. They were both swept quite far out, before our mother was able to reach them, and bring them both in to safety. I don’t know how to write about Veronica. Today she would be getting one of those children of valour medals.


The Top Drawer

Writing 201: Day 8 prompt, form and device are – drawer, ode, apostrophe – which means that the speaker in the poem addresses another person or an object (usually personified) directly. I did not know that was what that device was called.

Ode to the Top Drawer

You know you are rarely opened.
You know you are small, though close to hand.
Always the top drawer in whatever bedroom I inhabit.

Such important content you keep safe.
These items each are small, easily lost in a crowd.
I need you, the careful placement you offer in your safe closure.

I surf the net, I dream and plan.
I make decisions, shop, take the suitcase, fly.
I empty you of passport, visa and spare credit card.

Lament for Summer

Writing 210: Poetry. Today the word is Fog, make it an Elegy, and use metaphor.

Lament for Summer

Follow footprints in the snow where the dog has been playing.
Tugging on gloves, re-wrapping scarf over mouth.
Breath rising in clear air. Around the house corner on up the hill
Breath, breathe, heart beating comes to consciousness.
Each breath labours to hear its own continuance.
A cold body listens to its own work.IMG_6146
A dog happily muzzles snow for a buried toy.

Imagine a present only. No spring. No summer.
No hot sand flying under deep delving paws.
A dog’s life indeed.

Indoors, briefly blinded by steamed up lenses
The warm fug of radiant heat rising from the floor
Imagine summer. Strip off these boots and pants
Step out of thermals. Feel skin open to sunshine.
Champagne bubbles burst. Blurred vision, roof snow
flying west with the wind. Golden days are gone.
Happily make tea, mull over memories.

Follow my footprints where I have played
tugging heartsrings, re-telling stories.
It passes fast, indeed.

Writing 201: Animal

Writing 201: Poetry – today the prompt instruction was: animal, concrete, enjambment.


Middle grand-daughter, Ruby, with Finlay, the dog. Ruby is blonde, her sisters are red-gold, a match for Finlay.

Middle grand-daughter, Ruby, with Finlay, the dog. Ruby is blonde, her sisters are red-gold, a match for Finlay.

Concrete can mean ‘make a shape’ with those lines. Enjambment means that a sentence or phrase can go over a line break, stop in the middle of the next, etc. Well, if making a shape, the enjambment seemed to follow. Question is: Is it a poem?

Fun to do. I did the shape by writing in a word doc over a nearly transparent picture. Then I took a screenshot. If, or when, I work out how to do this by some other clever html way, maybe I will update. Maybe not. Seems a lot of effort for not much result.

Change attitude. It is also for fun.

Twenty Years On

I wrote “Twenty Years on ” a few weeks ago. Go to “view original post” to read the poem. On Sunday my Aunt Betty died, the last of my mother’s family, the last of my parents’ generation. My thoughts are with Valerie, my cousin. There is poetry here somewhere, remembering a large family who were always a part of my life, even if the poem is of the next generation.

My World, Your World, One World

Reading Speccy’s post about mothers, teeth, death and all that (and thanks to her for the way she has offered up my poem) has had me remembering all today that October 2012 is the twenty year anniversary of when my father died. My mother had died just six weeks before, her heart stopped, while Dad was in hospital. Then he died, he just stopped.

What with all the worries and other stuff going on, that October in 1992, feels like when mourning started for both of them – sometimes one, then the other, sometimes together. Just like they were for the last few years in and out of the hospitals, worrying about each other, and us, their three daughters, Darby and Joan style. Born 1909, met age 13, had on-off friendship through their 20’s, married in 1941, had three daughters, they were each 83 years old when they died.


View original post 409 more words

After the break-up

Mind moves in mysterious ways – at least mine seems to. The Daily Post writing challenge suggested “and now for something completely different” and although they cannot be held responsible, I found myself writing a longer than usual poem, on a subject about which I usually keep quiet.

After the break-up

Some day
I will tell my sons
about their father.
That was a man
many years my husband,
you would think
this is a known tale.
You would think
they would know anyway.
Maybe they do.

Still I want my tale
to be told.
to come out of the darkness
and dreams wittering
their alternate universe
in my morning waking.
These knowings skitter
their return to the labyrinth,
hidden rats under
the rock of consciousness.

I will ask the wind
to tell my tale.
Gentle breeze slithering
sussurating leaves,
coolness brushing my hair.
All around, the sound
feeling its way
among the trees,
pale undersides of leaves
talk each to each other.

“It is there you know.”
“It is there”
The grass lies below
jealous of sky.
“Oh but we’ll go there”
“When will you go?”
“Wait, wait for the wind.”
Feel him blow.
The wind promises,
a whisper of air.

Breath of rush
and rage and storm.
From east or west
gusted dangerous twister
quarrelling harm.
The wind will take
all difference,
all tales of difference
With indifference.
The wind can’t tell my tale.

I will ask the sun
To tell the story.
I can feel pink light
through closed eyelids.
Vision rose-coloured
I entered unseeing,
unthinking, feeling only.
Even the hairs on my arm
stretched warm
in his glory.

In strong sun
shining glare or warmth
waves of fire
and passion hide
derision’s winter.
Who looks with open eyes
at the sun?
He stops me seeing.
Beyond heat
beyond hate, there is no story.

I will ask the sea
to bear my rhyme.
To take it as it comes
white caps crashing
splashing into heights,
then merging, melding
in smooth billows.
A sea of joy and tears
will not wallow
in the pettiness of bitterness.

The ocean has no time
to hear self-pity.
Raging, calm,
green flickered grey or black,
the words fall.
Ocean says
I have myriad magic voices.
I don’t tell tales.
I’ll keep them here,
deep in my forgetting.

Come ashore
Live on Earth.
Why on earth
should I want
to tell my sons
about their father?
He is.
There, not-there.
Walking, talking
in his own world.

Regret does not bruise him.
Joy does not choose him.
Strength and 
all his length of days
Cannot help me
Comprehend this ghost.
He comes from my own dreaming
Seeming real,
then gone, lost.
I stand on solid ground.

I lived with him,
and boys and joys.
There is no need
to tell my sons a tale.
I gave to him,
He gave to me,
We knitted
the threads of their life.
They live their own story.

Fear Memory

written in April 2009, at a BIPP workshop, given the word “scar” as a prompt


Long after childhood
when in his twenties
His temples crept rather quickly
back towards his crown


Showing shined skin
So he shaved it all
Yul Brynner style
Long before it was fashionable.


Vanity, so that
the few more hairs
each morning in the comb,
the steady drip of time, would not show.


His head bent to the guitar.
He forgot, or did not know
His mother saw the scar
Laid bare by shaver.


A quarter inch
by two inch long white mark.
Blood remembered.
Different strings were plucked.


No guitar had strummed the night
his mother watched the pain
and cried and watched again.
A wounded child.


Watch and wake, watch and fear
concussion, damage,
Dark angels taking him away.
The blood wiped clean but not the fear.


Its hard to sew a toddler’s scalp
with neatness. The scar is left.
Now, like fear, will always be.
All mothers fear some memory.