One Woman’s War

A navy blue river
runs down the A5*
sheet of green paper
that rustles in the quiver
of her clammy hand

Misty eyes scour
the blurred lines,
searching for meaning
in the weary letters
scrawled by a stranger

The last of one man
in ten sentences delivered.
He regrets, she shivers,
and knows the truth

Her wombwarm babe,
whose downy head
she waved to
only yesterday,
lies cold and shroud covered.


*Standard paper size measuring 148 x 210 mm, half of normal A4 letter size.

Backpacker Mother

This was inspired by my daughter’s current trip around South America, which she has loved while I have worried.  I’m a bit jealous too to be honest!

Backpacker Mother

In the tangled jungle of my mind
creepies and crawlies
bite and suck.
They feast on your blood
and fill you with venom.
Howls of the night
keep you from rest,
and contorted vines
grab at your feet.

Oh, and the poisons
that turn your mind within
and make you fear your past.
And your future.
Those poisons in the smoke,
the innocent leaf,
and the full round berries,
Juicy and ripe,
that would lull you to a soundless sleep.

In the cave-dark recesses
I see nothing but danger.
Whilst you, bathing in the dappled sun,
taut with adrenalin,
lean and young and brilliant,
agile and streetwise,
your light shields your eyes
seeing only the soft green shoots
and fearful creatures.
Seduced by that beguiling woodland.
Aware of only good

You go where I would fear to travel.

Take care. x


Grandmother said…

My grandmother was a Cockney.  Yep, a full blown, registered, born-within-bow-bells, rhyming slang saying Cockney through and through.  She died some 35 years ago now, but I still remember her clearly.

She was never anything but old to me, even when she must have only been in her early 60’s (it is a truth that 60 is now so much younger than it used to be – thank goodness!). I remember her ‘perming’ her own hair into tight little grey curls using thin plastic rollers lined with cigarette papers (no I don’t know either) and foul smelling home perms.  I remember her and my mum making jellies for my birthday teas, every year, even though to this day I loathe jelly in any shape or form, and floury Sausage rolling at Christmas.  I feel like I remember all her mannerisms, and sometimes see them manifest in either myself or my sister.

Most of all, I remember her sayings.  It seemed she had a saying for every occasion.  We had a ‘lick and a promise’ instead of a wash. Things were always in a ‘muddy puddle’ (about as near to bad language as I ever heard from her).  I often came home from school looking like ‘the black ‘ole of Calcutta’ or the ‘wreck of the ‘esperus’.   Things went ‘up ‘n down like a fiddlers elbow’ and if I had a stain on my clothes ‘a blind man would be glad to see it’!  Not very pc these days I suspect.

However, my favourite saying, and even now I use it more frequently than you might imagine, is

‘It stuck out like a tanner in a sweeps ear’ole’.

Of course, whenever I use that one, I have to explain it.  No one these days remembers that a tanner was a shiny silver sixpence, which would have twinkled amongst the soot in a chimney sweeps ear. And why exactly would he have had a tanner in his ear in the first place?  Who knows? Who cares?  It’s silly, but you have to admit, very descriptive!

These sayings have now become part of my family’s lore, something that the children laugh at, but keep in their hearts as part of their history.  It’s a way of them knowing their great-grandmother even though she is long-gone.  I wonder how their grandchildren will remember me?

Well, I do make up my own expletives I suppose, ‘Cripes-a-lawky’ being a favourite.  I don’t know anyone else that says that, though perhaps, dear blog reader, you might pick it up and bring it to its rightful place in the national consciousness.  Or how about ‘pigs-and-fishes’ in place of your favourite swearword, as I do, or if it’s really annoying just ‘pigs!’  I’m sure my husband and daughters could fill you in on others, but the thing is, I don’t even know I’m saying them these days.   They are just verbal tics that are part of who I am.

We may share the same language, but each and everyone of us uses it in unique ways,everyday.  We should all do our best to use it wisely and memorably!

Who’s mum?

I’m travelling to London (again) today.  I have to go to accompany my 90 year old mum to a hospital appointment.  She hates doctors (my doctor daughters are, of course, the exception), and hospitals, and taking any sort of medicine, including over the counter jobs. She really doesn’t want to go.

‘I’m fine.  I feel fine.  They’ll only give me pills, and they”ll give me side effects, which will make me worse’ she says.  

Fine, except for the shortness of breath, the tingly hands and feet, the skin lesion that won’t go away, failing eyesight and hearing, the fact that she is housebound…  

They’ve called her in over a dodgy blood test, and the implication is, that it could be something nasty.  You know the one.  Begins with a C.  She hasn’t quite grasped that, and it’s down to me (with support from my girls) to make sure she goes, and doesn’t put up that knee-jerk wall.

I am of course, fervently hoping that the news isn’t as bad as I fear, and at 90 she will just play her remaining years out in comfort without any ghastly interventions. But, I’m going to hold her hand, and listen carefully to the experts, ask questions, make sure she understands and accepts that some treatment may be necessary to make her life more comfortable …  Just like she used to when she took me to the doctors as a child.  When she made me take disgusting medicine ‘for my own good’.

When did I turn in to mother?