For Rupert

Life is not linear!

And it’s never clear or

Cut and dried like flowers

                              On a grave

And when our life breaks, as

It so often does

Memories bubble up

And float like shards of dust,

Lightly settling on,           the

Uneveness of fate.

***


I can’t claim to know you

Now, we met long ago.

Our Dads were brothers then

                                Not so close,

 But for just one day,

We played like true cousins,

Hiding under blankets;

Giggling with ourselves.

Remembering is hard

I know and that’s okay.

***

I will remember for

The both of us because

I still feel your love,    like

                              Words through rock,

It grew within my bones.

I make no judgement

About your life, the things

You’ve done or said. To me

You will always be my

Coz, bouncing on the bed,

For cousin Rupert Abercrombie

“I’ve often thought about Rupert, throughout the years and wondered how his life turned out. Very recently, I learned, right out of the blue, that he has leukaemia and may not have long to live.

From the little I know, he’s had a hard life and has many physical and mental health issues; which makes this, much thumbed, memory so very precious.”

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The Urban Garden

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Sitting in the garden on a late September afternoon

The diluted sun paints shadows on my skin

Its wrinkled layering becomes a moon landing

For flies, exploring the craters of brave new worlds

They tickle me with their spidery feet.

A grey squirrel hangs upside down to eat

From a bird feeder, like a circus act

On a high wire with no safety net, he swings

And flicks his chatty tail at angry birds, singing

For their supper before the night descends.

While mumbling bees stumble in and out

Of crumbling blackberry bushes

Drinking up before the Moon calls time on

The supping of their favourite liquorice wine

And she thumbs them all home.

Along roads of spangled streetlight,

They grumble and groan, with sore heads,

And fall into their waxy beds.

Then sleepy hedgehogs come out and snuffle

Their way through the moon soaked grass

Tracking truffle snails over frozen trails

Of broken glass; looking for an early breakfast,

With their quick, black button eyes.

Suddenly,

They stop dead,

Behind the muddled garden shed,

And curl into their itchy chestnut coats

To hide from a swarthy fox, sniffing round the bins

For urban street food in compostable linings or

Sugary treats which she paws with her soft velvet

Stockinged feet; disturbing nocturnal ants,

Lined up like trolleys outside a shopping mall.

They scatter like skeletal bees until someone shouts

“Can we have some order, please!”

And as I rise to go back inside my humbled house

I get to thinking about my own small place,

Within our constantly evolving universe

And then, it dawns on me, like some giant switch.

There’s no real difference between any of us

We are all made of exactly the same stuff.

And I am consumed, with love.

 

 

Retirement Party at The Rose Tavern

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The early September sun splashes against the sulky sky.

Its light lingers upon the iron-rod road, where cars are parked

Nose to nose and wrought iron gates are closed, against

The fast approaching night

 

We drive, like evening snails passed rows of houses.

Homes to renters, buyers and doer-uppers

Where half-closed curtains offer up brief glimpses

Of ordinary life, with TV flickers and weekday dinners

 

The Rose crouches on the corner of Rupert and Trinity.

Like a magpie in a sparrow’s nest. Its naked windows warmed

With laughter; not quite happy ever after but good enough

For a workday evening down the pub

 

Twenty years of hopes and tears separate us,

Our lives and careers steering us over different paths

Still, we fit together, like long lost magnets.

The ghosts we share, resting gently on our shoulders.

 

A rising moon, so full of madness shines upon our

Empty glasses that once overflowed with youth and fire; now

Lovingly stoked, with stubborn friendships, that will not fade or expire.

But will follow you through yet another doorway marked, ‘Retire.’

 

For Christine Isaacs and friends who worked with me at the Vauxhall Centre (A social service run Day Centre for disabled people) in Norwich, UK during the 1990’s

 

24 September, 2018

 

Remembering

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I can’t remember hearing the dawn chorus

When I woke up in pain that day.

Or if the sun was shining through the threadbare curtains

 

I can’t remember the colour of the

Blood soaked bath towel I held between my legs

Or how much mess I’d made in our second-hand bed

 

I can’t remember the slam of the rusty car doors

When we drove to the old hospital site

Or how many traffic lights made us stop

 

I can’t remember the name of the midwife

Who told me it would be alright

Or how I managed to climb onto the hospital bed

 

I can’t remember how many doctors were called

In to watch your untimely birth

Or their faces as they saw you silently slide from my womb

 

I can’t remember how long I had to wait

Until your brother followed your slippery path

Or the pattern of the blanket, they wrapped you in

 

I can’t remember how long I lay there alone

As they whisked his limp pink body away

Or how many new born cries I heard from other rooms

 

I can’t remember how I got to the special baby unit

To see him through unforgiving glass, his raging body full of wires

Or who placed your brother in my arms to slowly die

 

I can’t remember when the night reclaimed that day

How I must have moved through the treacle of time

Or how I walked back into our home, without you both, in my arms.

 

For Amy and Carter Young-Brooksby born and died 12th September, 1994

 

 

Church Of Art

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Norfolk Watercolour Circle’s Annual Exhibition held at St Margaret’s Church of Art, St Benedict’s Street, Norwich.

19th August, 2018

 

NWC 2018 Exhibition at St Margarets Church 19 08 18

Artists at work

 

The din is deafening,

Hammers talking in rounds

As chalk white walls are clothed

With hues of flesh and floral feasts

Seascapes on landscape and

Portraits, who peep with eyes that follow

You round the stunted stone

We walk on bodies, their foot worn names alone

Remind us of their presence


Ancient cobwebs hang like broken chandeliers

Among the shipwrecked beams

Wounded with the modernity of electric light,

Which hesitantly flicker and hum; as if

Unsure of their own integrity.

The hollow nave; no longer filled with wealthy

Merchants looking for a place in heaven,

Still crave the fevered chants of prayer

And the clink of coin in the collection tin.


Now the footfall lingers, just long enough

Upon the grieving stone

To praise the images of modern gods

Signed, bubbled wrapped and taken home.

In convenient parcels for consumption

If I were to worship anything

It would be art

The stained-glass windows of our time

But on canvas and placed at eye level


Outside, flippant (bunting) flags flap and wave

At passers-by, unsure of entry fees

Most look away and walk onward,

Eager to reach their final destination.

But a few brave souls wander in

Looking for art or redemption

Perhaps, they will find both!


St Margaret Church 23 08 18

The high, timber beamed ceiling reminds me of a ship and our links with immigrants throughout history. Perhaps they built this church.

Days Like This

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A Rainy Day in August – 2018

I remember days like this, when my white socks only reached my ankles. Days where the seasons played hide and seek, daring the sun to cower behind uninvited clouds.

Boarding school days of sleety grey, where the light was swallowed up by lead lined windows and religiously grained wooden panels. And where empty corridors cried in the lonely shadows.

The threat of rain kept us indoors, roaming silent weekend classrooms. Friday’s chalk still fresh but forgotten, in the teacher’s rush for weekend respite.

I would curl up on a window seat and follow rain drops as they mingled and merged towards their final earthy home. My home, in the still silence of unopened books, felt like a lifetime away.

My home, where the steam of Bolognese sauce would wrap itself around me like a comfort blanket. Mum defrosting minced beef in a boiling pot and cooking fists full of spaghetti.

The chopping of the onions brought tears to my eyes, making the raindrops stop for a second as if startled by their own reflection.

Now,  I watch my breath warm the glass but in an instant, it has gone and, as the light fades outside, all I can see is a little girl staring back at me.

With so few rainy days this summer, when the rain did come, it brought a flood of memories.

I Fall

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I stand, alone

I turn, I twist, I stall

Feet, legs, arms

I lurch, I grab, I stab

The air, then

I fall, I fall, I fall

Head slams step,

Fist finds floor,

Heart stops time.

Pain floods my brain, then

I Rage, I Rage, I Rage.

Life cracks the whip

Alive or dead?

I rise, I rise, I rise

And move on.

2nd August, 2018

The art of falling

I live with a condition called Cerebral Palsy which is as unique as I am. Everyone with CP has a different experience of it.  For me, falling over is just part of who I am. I have been falling ever since I could walk. I have split my head open, knocked teeth out, bruised ribs and twisted ankles but, up to now, I haven’t broken any bones. Why? Because I was taught how to fall, a skill I share with stunt guys, which I think is pretty cool!

After the shock and the pain, I always feel anger. Anger at myself for losing my footing. Anger at the Universe for giving me a good kicking.

Falling over, in public, is excruciatingly embarrassing,  for anyone, right? Yet my own feelings of inadequacy fascinate me, Is it because falling shows frailty, an inability to stand on one’s own two feet and be in control? Or perhaps it’s because it confirms some non-disabled people’s stereotypical views about us, disabled people, needing to be cared for? Anyone who knows me would laugh out loud at this!

I don’t like fuss. My husband knows just to walk away and let me get up in my own way and in my own time.  He gets a few dirty looks for it but he has discovered that it’s better than an angry wife! 🙂

 

Animal

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Nature has her way of reminding us of our origins, don’t you think?

Remember the burn of snow?

Mornings clad in ice?

Now sweat journeys down my back

In search of coolness.

Having lost my fur,

Skin feels sticky to the touch

It pools where my tail once was

Playing with the Spanish Seguidilla form. It’s seemed fitting in this Norfolk, UK heatwave. 🙂

Butterflies

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History, a life, the heart, the brain

Flow to the taste buds and flew back again

That decades or more past Keats’s span

Makes me an older, not a wiser man

Taken from ‘A Kumquat for John Keats’ By Tony Harrison,

These lines from Tony Harrison has given me a lot of comfort recently, as I have not been acting my age!  Middle age, marriage, grown up children, experience… They do not protect you from that school girl crush that whacks right in the stomach!

Beware of butterflies!

Butterflies

I let a butterfly in, t’ other day.

It flew in through my old myopic eye

And fluttered recklessly around my brain.

There, it disturbed a million sleeping stars.

When, it found out my unprotected breast.  

He buried his oil slicked wings deep inside

I thought my fractured heart was bound to break.

Leaving me sad, unanchored and exposed.

In my stomach, it found some long-lost friends

And partied on through the moon spangled night

By morning, nothing really felt the same

Though I knew they had all got up and left.