Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Itch Unexpected

The man arrived at the start of the day
Sat at his desk and worked hours away
He took no morning tea nor ate any food
And he never played music to brighten the mood
He arrived each morning and sat there at work
He never called sick and never felt any hurt

He wove every day with threads from a sack
That he arrived with each morning over his back
He spun threads into patterns with focused intent
Reaching into his bag until his materials were spent 
Then in the darkness he left for the night
Looking up to the sky and the absence of light

For years he had worked and said not a word
He never hummer or sighed and nothing was heard
He wove and he spun and he created the pattern
Letting time pass as always had happened
For years he worked and knew nothing more
Until one day his thumb twitched and became briefly sore

He dropped a thread for the first time ever
And he stopped abruptly, taking no pleasure
One thread there lay as long as his chin
There on the floor curved like a grin
One thread he dropped and let fall away
One thread unwoven for the first time today

He reached down and lifted the thread to his face
Breathing out softly as it wafted in space
"Hmmm" he sighed softly hearing the sound
"Hmmm" he said staring at the thread he had found
He held between fingers and looked at his work
Then tucked the loose thread in the cuff of his shirt

The next day he worked hard as he ever could
Watching as each thread went where it should
He wove and he focused and toiled all the day
He neither sighed nor spoke and had nothing to say
He worked until sunset then noticed one thing
The thread now circled his finger as a ring

He looked at his finger and the thread tied right there
Sighed and yawned and scratched at his hair
He looked at his finger where the thread was wound twice
And oddly he found that he thought it looked nice
It occurred to him the thread looked yet longer
And thicker and darker and very much stronger

The next day the thread had looped round his wrist
And when he saw unthinking he gave it a kiss
He sat at his work weaving the threads from his sack
But stopped now and then to stretch out his back
The thread it hung loose until he stood up at last
And he saw something remarkable had passed

The thread was now something quite else
The thread was no thread but now was a self
A baby, a newborn, sleeping and warm
A baby, a child, a sapling, a fawn
“Well now’ he said for the first time in life
Then lifted the child and walked into the night

Each day from then on he arrived with the child
And as he worked through the day often he smiled
He sat at his chair and wove with attention
But he now sung songs and found stories to mention
He warmed milk and filled bottles and changed nappies as well
And each duty bought joy - except for the smell!

The baby grew bigger and started to grin
Releasing its personality from somewhere within
The man realised one day the babe had no name
And he frowned and he blinked and then heard the rain
He reached out one hand and touched the babes cheek
And he let his ancient cracked voice slowly speak

“Raindrop” he whispered and the baby fast blinked
Accepting the name like a contract fresh inked
“Raindrop, my daughter” he said and stopped at his task
Lifting his daughter to kiss her at last
“Raindrop” he said and the baby cried out
“Raindrop” he said this time with a shout

Raindrop grew fast and soon learnt to walk
She stumbled and giggled and started to talk
She stretched into her body and flexed at her toes
She chewed at apples and picked at her nose
Raindrop would sit drawing or sleeping or watch
As her father wove fabric with no thread ever dropped

Then one evening at the end of the day
As her father stood and they both walked away
Raindrop turned to her father as they looked to the night
And asked him a question as the moon shone full bright
“Where do you go while I’m sleeping in bed?”
And her father stopped walking and scratched at his head

He looked back at the shed when he worked every day
Looked into the distance with no words to say
He looked down the old path to the house where she slept
He looked into the night not knowing what’s next
He looked to his daughter and his heart filled with hope
And he lifted her to him and still never spoke

But that night he took her with him far from their home
That night he went walking this time not alone
That night he had company as he filled up his bag
And though she was frightened she also was glad
She watched what he did with silent eyes
Never speaking or sighing or showing surprise

The first place he walked her was an old house by a lake
Where an elderly couple sat eating this year’s birthday cake
The old man was gumming sponge into submission
While his wife sat knitting in a familiar position
The old man stopped and frowned and reached to his neck
Scratching at an itch he did not expect

Then he coughed and slumped forwards and his wife cried out
And Raindrop watched her father soft move about
The old man was dead that she could tell
As the old lady started sobbing like the clang of a bell
Raindrop watched as her father reached for the man now dead
Stroked at his neck and drew back a thread

Then they walked on to a road in the city
Where a girl walked and talked so dazzlingly pretty
She was watching her phone and striding along
Mouthing the words to a buoyant pop song
When she stepped in the road and reached to her neck
Scratching an itch she did not expect

Again Raindrop watched her father stride in
To where the girl lay waiting for her end to begin
He reached to her neck and pulled back the thread
As Raindrop watched the girl, all words unsaid
The car that had hit her sat silent and still
The driver inside it looking shell shocked and ill

Then to a plane sat keen to depart
Raindrop watched her father watch for the start
There were hundreds of passengers sat all in rows
All in their happiness and holiday clothes
The engines purred and then built to a roar
And the plane hurtled the runway determined and sure

And as it arose every passenger there
Reached up to their neck to an itch suddenly there
They waved fingers on skin as the plane suddenly exploded
And their lives in one beat were swift eroded
Raindrop floating watched as her father
Gathered the threads with his bag growing larger

The night was long and speckled with death
Raindrops father there for every last breath
He stood silent witness and reached for the thread
As every new person became newly dead
Raindrop walked with him, this man, her Dad
And felt unchecked love as he carried his bag

Then the sun came and they came back to the shed
Both awake and alive and in no need of bed
The bag was bulging with the threads now to weave
And Raindrop handed them one by one with such speed
They worked together and smiled and shared
Knowing and showing how much that they cared

That night they went walking with the bag once again
Watching and witnessing love and such pain
Grandparents died and her father collected
Each thread that curled from the itch unexpected
From adults and children and all who died
Her father caught the thread that sprang from inside

One night in a hospital ward they both awaited
A heart torn mother as she sadly dilated
Raindrop stopped her father as he walked to the bed
Holding his hand and shaking her head
Raindrop walked in and stepped to the child
Lifelessly laying all moments un-smiled

Raindrop reached out and plucked at the thread
Turned to the mother and silently said
“I’m sorry this happened truly I am
But I’m here with my father and we understand”
And the mother she wept and the nurses stood by
And Raindrop and her father walked to the sky

For years they walked as Raindrop grew older
Gathering the threads from plumbers and nurses and soldiers
Gathering threads from pilots and surfers and sons
From lives long lived and lives just begun
For years they gathered and wove daily together
Believing that this would be this way yet forever

Then one night her father watched a building slow burn
As more lives yet to death took their final turn
And as he stepped forward his step caught a hitch
As he felt a sudden strange, and unexpected, itch
And he turned to Raindrop and looked at her there
This girl that his life had found room to share

“Is it my turn?" he asked and Raindrop reached a hand
Knowing he knew but could not understand
Raindrop stepped in and wrapped her arms at his neck
Where his skin tickled from the itch he did not expect
“I love you,” she whispered as her father died in her arms
Safe and beloved and kept far from harm

“My daughter” he sighed, the final breath in his chest
Feeling relief from the itch that no one expects
Raindrop found his thread and held it to her heart
Crying in moonlight as time pulled them apart
Then slowly she went with all the threads gathered
And she sat at the loom and worked at what mattered

That night the sun set and her weaving was done
She stepped to the darkness in the wake of the sun
And before she went walking out into the night
She looked to the sky and the absence of light
And she pulled out the weaving and threw it on high
Where it swiftly unfurled and became the night sky

Every memory and moment from every thread
Every promise and betrayal from every word said
Every passion and parent and dream ever dreamt
Every moment and opportunity, wasted or spent
It all spread far in beauty and became the night sky
Added to daily as time passed swift by

And that night as Raindrop threw out the stars
A brighter one shone in distance afar
A shimmering diamond woven that day
Woven with everything there was no time to say
A sparkling perfection of light and of love
Raindrop looked to her father as he sparkled above

And that night as she walked and gathered the dead
She stopped by the grieving and softly she said
“They are not gone, look to the sky every night
Their love shines there still in every stars light”
She gathered and witnessed and returned to her home
Working each day, working alone

Raindrop works with her fingers so swift
And each thread she weaves is a thread she has kissed
She works knowing one day a thread will slip free
Fall to the floor and slow come to be
She knows as she weaves the threads she’s collected
That one day she’ll to feel the itch unexpected

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Man in the Ground

Theresa Malone’s very first word was NO
Said with a rage she would frequently show
18 months old she’d scowl from her seat
Slamming her hand down on food she won't eat
Theresa Malone was a furnace of rage
And this is the story of how all of that changed

In school age 6 Theresa caused up roar
When Mr.Cage and Theresa in class went to war
Theresa disliked that he smelt of stale smoke
So when he would talk she’d clutch at her throat
Mr.Cage would then keep her in during break
So Theresa watched her friends playing out by the gate

Mr Cage in class lost his temper again
As Theresa declared his nose looked like a plane
He slammed down his pens and made several kids cry
As Theresa pointed out a jet passing by
Theresa he shouted, you will be quiet as a mouse
Mr Cage, she screamed I’m going to burn down your house

This was the way for the angry young girl
Who saw red fringes lining the edge of her world
Door slams, detonations and temper eruptions
Inside or outside she was a constant disruption
But at home Theresa was silent and scared
Her father was the ogre who ruled coldly there

Theresa’s mother died when Theresa was 7
The police softly said she’d gone up to heaven
They tried to hide the unpleasant truth
Theresa’s mother another case of “domestic abuse”
But Theresa knew as her father was taken away
That she’d lost both her parents in one bitter day

Her father was tried and then sentenced to jail
His serious stern temper turning childishly pale
And Theresa was sent to an aunt out of town
Where it was hoped she would thrive and maybe calm down
Her aunt fed her apples and plenty of cake
But Theresa still shouted and threw food from her plate

For months her aunt tried every tactic she knew
But nothing would work or ever get through
And when Theresa smashed a window with an old china plate
Her aunt felt taking her in may be a mistake
Theresa, my love, I can’t cope with all this
And she dropped to her knees and hoped for a kiss

Theresa could see the pain that she’d created
But the anger in her heart could not be abated
And she stormed from her aunt there on her knees
Out to the garden and the flowers and bees
And she sat at the end over looking the fields
Trying to find the world she’d somehow concealed

She sat hunched with her knees to her chest
When she first saw the man lying at rest
He was just a mound of dirt and leaves and grass
But seeing him there made her gasp and then laugh
For though he was just dirt, grass and leaves
She could see his head and his arms and his knees

A man lying there with his arms behind his head
A man lying peaceful as though comfy in bed
The man in the ground Theresa saw laying there
The man in the ground with flowers for hair
He was just soil nothing more, just mound on the lawn
But Theresa felt certain a friendship had born

I’m angry she hissed and then started to cry
I’m angry so often and I just don’t know why
She wept by the man and the man lay un-moving
But him lying and listening was simple and soothing
So Theresa she wept and spoke of her mum and her dad
And tranquillity swift flowed and submerged all the bad

She returned inside and found her aunt in her bed
Theresa opened the door and stood and soft said
I’m sorry Aunt Josie, I’ll be better I hope
And Aunt Josie held her so perfectly tight, warm and  close
They went to the kitchen and made pastry together
And Aunt Josie had hopes that things may get better

From then Theresa would go to the garden each day
She’d fret and she’d speak her bad thoughts away
She’d let them all spill to the man in the ground
Who took them to the fires that lay deep and down
She’d go inside calmer, heart light and temper cool
And Josie would cook while they talked about school

A storm tore the night when Theresa was 9
It ripped branches from trees and laundry from lines
It shattered windows in town and broke the church spire
And it tore down reception from telegraph wires
Aunt Josie came to Theresa’s as the sky turned deep red
But found that Theresa was not in her bed

She tore through the house calling her name
Afraid of burglars, kidnappers and menace unnamed
She saw the back door was open to the night
And snatched at a torch to throw a weak light
She raced down the path towards the fields and the farm
Praying her niece was please safe from harm

She found Theresa sat with an umbrella held tight
Singing to the garden in the dark of the night
Josie stood motionless and Theresa stroked the grass
As the lightning shock crackled and thunder crashed past
I’ll keep you dry Theresa said to the ground
And laughed as the lightning flashed all around

What were you doing? Josie asked her within
As the paper quick crackled so the flames could begin
The man in the ground was washing away
Theresa replied, and that’s all she would say
So Josie made cocoa and they sat there together
The flames flickering high slow calming the weather

Theresa held her anger within now as she grew
The man in the ground the only one who now knew
She would hold her fists as she was taunted in class
About her mother and father and violence of the past
She would come home with tears and rush to the yard
Where she knew she could say all that was hard

Christmas Day, birthday or Halloween night
Theresa told the man everything that wasn’t right
Josie would watch and accept as a fact
That Theresa felt better after she’d been and done that
Theresa even wrote a letter when she was turning 13
To Mr Cage apologising for being so childishly mean

When Theresa was 16 Josie had news
That hurt like a bee sting on top of a bruise
Her father was being released in a weeks time
The courts deciding he’d been punished fow for his crime
He wanted to see her but it was entirley her choice
Did she want to see him or listen to his voice?

Theresa looked at her Aunt and blinked her tears back
As the world spun in backward and the sky turned to black
I need to speak to my friend was Theresa’s reply
And she went to the garden and sat under the sky
She told the man in the ground her father was coming
Then sat rocking quietly as the bees started humming

Theresa dug memories from deep in her mind
That there were few remaining she was saddened to find
Her mother crying and screaming No More
As her father ripped his rage and kicked at the floor
Her mother un-moving as he smashed at the walls
And Theresa age 6 and her emergency call

Now 10 years later he walked from his cell
Started walking slow towards her with feelings to tell
He wanted his daughter, he wanted to meet
Wanted to build a bridge to her heart under his feet
The man in the ground just lay under the sun
And Theresa told her aunt that her father could come

And then there he was with his eyes to the path
At her front door and Theresa wanted to laugh
Here was the man who’d watched her life begin
Asking and crying for her to let him come in
I’m so sorry he said and wrung hard at his hands
Please can I try to make you understand?

Theresa stood alone but felt something shift
Heard soil break apart and grass and dirt lift
Behind her she knew the man was stood there
One hand on her shoulder to show that he cared
The man in the ground had her back now she knew
So she said to her father what she felt was true

Dad, she said and he started to weep
As for the first time years he heard her voice speak
I forgive you she said and gave him one kiss
But that’s all I have, that’s all that there is
She shut the door and saw him through the glass
As he slow retreated back into her past

The man in the ground was laying at peace
But she saw dirt on the carpet down by her feet
The man in the ground lay under the sky
With daisies growing close to his left eye
Theresa, the girl, who was no longer a child
Saw wind move the grass so it appeared that he smiled

Theresa went to study and Aunt Josie cried
As her heart filled with hope and then filled with pride
Theresa studied hard and came home each term
And laughed and related all that she’d learnt
Then she’d go to the garden and give to the man
Small samples of soil she’d saved in a can

Dirt from her university and sand from the shore
Dirt from a pub that she liked and then more
Spoonfuls of soil from places she’d been
She scattered on the man and the grass wet and green
And the man lay at rest with his arms behind his head
Just like a man lazing on Sunday in bed

Theresa finished university and found her feet keen
To go seeking vistas and sights yet unseen
She explained to Aunt Josie that it was time to travel
To see what was out there and the future unravel
She flew to Morocco and Vietnam and Laos
Sending back postcards of where she was now

She travelled through Europe and Russia as well
Mailing back promises of stories to tell
She lived there in London and Hamburg and Spain
And criss-crossed the continent cheaply by train
She came back before Christmas in her 23rd year
And Aunt Josie opened the door with excitement and cheer

They talked and they sipped as Theresa told tales
Of eating bugs, horse meat, intestines and snails
She showed Josie a tattoo she’d gotten in Mumbai
The date her mum was born and the date that she’d died
And then she told Aunt Josie the thing she had to say
Aunt Josie, I don’t know if you know this….I’m gay

Aunt Josie smiled and said that she knew
But I didn’t want to say anything, it was all up to you
Josie sat happy and so very proud of this girl
Who’d climbed such a mountain to be here in this world
Theresa the girl with the wild furious rages
Was now a young woman writing her pages

Theresa then sat with the man in the ground
Told him of her journeys to the humming bee sound
She pulled a tobacco tin from out of her clothes
Opened it and inhaled happily through her nose
This is the world, I’ve bought it to you
A spoonful of soil from every country she’d been through

Mud from Siem Reap near Ankor Watt
Soil from Italy where she’d briefly stopped
A scoop of America and a dash of southern Spain
A pinch of Germany near where she caught a train
A little bit of London and a wee dash of Wales
And a wet piece of Scotland dug up in a gale

Sand from the Red Centre near Uluru
All safely transported and bought back for you
A little of Russia and a touch of Nepal
She kissed each offering and watched the dirt fall
And this, she told him is from the seas I have seen
The oceans and rivers of the places I’ve been

The man in the ground lay with arms behind his head
As any man who was lazing on Sunday in bed
The dirt scattered softly and water trickled slow
Little pieces of the places that he could not go
Then Theresa lay with him and she let herself doze
And woke with a flower on top of her clothes

Aunt Josie was helping at a sausage sizzle one day
When the end of her life swift had its way
A stroke seized her mind and sent her to sleep
And she woke uncertain and unable to speak
Theresa rushed to her bed and held her good hand
Telling Josie she loved her hoping she’d understand

Aunt Josie smiled weakly and blinked one tired eye
Amazed that time had so swift passed her by
Theresa hugged her and asked her please just to stay
And in the warmth of that moment Josie passed away
Theresa wept then in that bright hospital room
Feeling her time with Aunt Josie had gone far to soon

One week later with her aunts’ final remains
Theresa sat in the garden with the man once again
This is my Aunty; she’s left the house to me,
This is where my heart is and where I will be
And she scattered the ashes right next to the man
Hoping he would keep Josie safe and warm in his hands

Theresa found love in buying vintage clothes
As she sneezed from the dust that tickled her nose
A tissue was handed from a woman named Jane
Who fell onto her heart like the softest of rain
Theresa and Jane soon shared life together
And though they couldn’t marry they promised forever

They laughed, worked, adopted and grew
Went on marches for injustice and equality too
They sat sipping wine on calm Sunday nights
While the kids they’d given homes lay lit by nightlights
Theresa lived a life shared with tears and with laughs
And visits down the garden to the man in the grass

Jane and Theresa, Theresa and Jane
Became grandparents three times and then once again
The fourth was a frowning girl named Collette
Who was bitterly angry and savagely direct
Her first word was No and the next Go Away
Theresa told the man laughing one cool winters day

She was older now with her hair wispy thin
But she had the same sparkle and the same happy grin
She laughed with the man at Collette’s latest wrath
Throwing mud at the clothes that had all just been washed
She did it because she was wearing odd socks
Pelted the sheets with mud and dirty old rocks

And as she laughed with the man Theresa felt strange
Like something in her chest had fast rearranged
Oh she said as her breathing grew still
And she sat back in her chair before she could spill
She looked back at the house where Jane gently waved
Where grandchildren were laughing at the games that they played

Am I dying? she asked of the man in the ground
But her words were impossible to bring into a sound
Her eyesight grew darker as the bees hummed close by
And Jane saw Theresa sleep instead of seeing her die
It was half hour later when Jane bought her a wine
That she found our Theresa had run out of time

But in that hour something had quietly stirred
And something impossible impossibly occurred
Theresa was sat in her chair calm at peace
Looking rested and loved not cold and deceased
In reds, blues and yellows laid with such care
Hundreds of flowers had been woven into her hair

Jane sought permission and it was allowed
To inter Theresa right there in the ground
Beside the man only Theresa could see
Under the warmth of the sun and the hum of the bee
Jane laid her to rest with joy at their life
My beloved, my best friend, my lover and wife

Then a band played old love songs and cakes were devoured
The sun sparkled through crystals and rainbows were flowered
Jane wept long and often but she laughed much as well
And when anyone asked she had stories to tell
Her children and grand children held her love dear
That even now widowed Jane was glad to be here

And a week later Collette was visiting filled with ire
Her parents tugging their hair at the girl there on fire
Collette knocked over the table and shouted out NO
And stormed outside where her Grandmother would go
Collette sat near where Gran T had been lain
And shouted in frustration and fury again

Collette was 5 and possessed of such aggression
That instead of soft toys rage was her possession
But there in the garden Collette found she could see
Her grandmother, Aunt Josie - and he
A man lying resting with his arms under his head
Just like a man lazing on Sunday in bed

Her grandmother Theresa placed one hand to her lips
Then winked at Collette and blew her a kiss
The man smiled broadly and Collette felt safe from harm
And knew that speaking would help her feel calm
So she stumbled and uttered her words in a rush
As Theresa nodded and then said to her Hush

Any time you are raging or torn up inside
Come visit us here with nothing to hide
Send your fury down into the lava below
Let it warm up the world and help the trees grow
We are here my love, any time you need speak
At the end of the garden, just come here and seek

And at the end of the garden outside of the home
Where Jane still lives warmly, well loved but alone
Theresa, Aunt Josie and the Man in the Ground
Hear the world ageing and every soft sound
Collette comes to them often and her rage slips away
And they lay there together at peace at the ebb of the day