Archive for the ‘ambivalence’ Category

A Kind of Betrayal

April 8, 2011

No one could ever claim that my mother didn’t do her best.  When I was a pupil at the nearest Catholic day school, seven miles from my home, my mother bought a glossy coffee table book full of ideas for healthy but scrumptious packed lunches.  Each day heralded a new and exotic type of bread: crackers, bagels, pitta bread, baguettes filled with cheeses from all around the world: brie and grape, Wensleydale and honied pickle, avocado salad. Little pots of fruit salad.  All carefully calorie counted, as requested. Just thinking about them made my mouth water.  My fellow students envied me.  It was a sign that I was cared for, that I was loved but I didn’t see it that way.  I saw it as a form of psychological torture. It was like a deadly, poisonous reptile writhing around in my school bag.  The serpent in the garden calling me, tempting me.  And every morning as soon as lessons began I disposed of the enemy.  I gave my carefully constructed lunch box to the morose, heavyset boy who sat next to me in registration, knowing every time I did it that this was a kind of betrayal.


September 23, 2010

Time Defied

One year out of every ten
The smiling moon eyes me

As I embark on a odyssey
Fleeing from the relics the centuries vomit

From the ashes of the ancients
That litter the shore

I cut my feet on the pebble beach
As I run towards the sea

I sail away with the ships in the harbour
Catching the tide as it comes in

At one with the waves; without substance
Disintegrating and dissolving

Time Triumphing

Last year’s beauty
This year’s sackcloth wearing whore

Some great sow smashing coffee cups
Flashing a rotten-toothed grin

Watched by a hunched black cat
A contemplative carnivore

Devoid of colour
Time – creeping and corrosive

Renders me waxen, wrinkled
Salt water washing over stone.

They Live Here

March 13, 2010

They live here.  In my head.  Disembodied voices.  And nothing can stop them.  Nothing works any more.  Nothing blocks them out.  The defence shield has dissolved.

Purchased a book for Nobby by Lord Baden  Powell, entitled ‘Roving to Success’.  He said it helped him through some of the most difficult times in his life.  I gather it is a kind of self help manuel.  I could do with one of those.  Or maybe I’ve damaged myself beyond repair.  Anything to stem the tide.

I am afraid that Nobby and I have become too mutually dependent.  I find myself wondering if he is as afraid of losing me as I am afraid of losing him.   I don’t think I can live in a world in which he does not exist. He is frail and his hands are shaking.  He tries to hide it from me but I can still see.  Kathy, his neighbour, an Irish woman in her fifties took me aside and said, ‘Have you noticed how frail Nobby is becoming?’  Noticed?  I’ve noticed little else.  ‘You need to prepare for…’  she stumbled over her words so I put her out of her misery, ‘….his departure from the planet.  Well, if he goes then I’m accompanying him.’

‘No, no,’ she clasped both my hands in hers.  ‘He wouldn’t want that.’

And I knew she was right.

The Loss of an Imaginary Friend

August 28, 2009
Unreal Sister

Unreal Sister

She was full of life and laughter and light, like Blake’s Tyger, tyger burning bright.’ I would follow her everywhere.  I was devoted to her. She was my friend. She was my constant companion. She never betrayed me. She was never duplicitous. She was the kind of girl anyone would want to be friends with.  She was the kind of girl my mother would have chosen as daughter. The only problem was that she didn’t exist.  She resided in the long, dark halls of my imagination.

She was an my oracle.  She made the mundanity of everyday life magical.  But real or not it had been I who had invited her in.

My greatest gift became my greatest torment. I was losing myself. She grew more solid every day. I began to feel as though I were the ghost,  something insubstantial. A piece of blank paper blown this way and that by a capricious and ruthless wind.  For My Perfect Friend had adopted the voice of the anorexia .

She was my invisible sister. She was my keeper. She was my guide it and I would be the keeper of her memory.  She intercepted my every move.  She was the one who stepped in to stop me devouring that bag of salt and vineger crisps or that open box of luxury Belgian chocolates or that last thick slice of iced birthday cake.  She was the one who told me that emptyness was the sweetest feeling of all.

‘You are spoilt and undeserving. I am worthier of life than you are. You are grotesque. I am beautiful. I am as light as air.  I am nothingness.’  Once again my body became a burden. ‘ I am pure.  You are tainted.’  She whispered insults and profanities in my ear.

At first she was a pale phantom but as the year progressed she grew stronger until she was more substantial than the living.  She had been fully ressucitated.  I found herself hovering between twinned worlds that had become mutually antagonistic.  ‘Don’t let them fool you. They are your enemy.  I am your only true friend.’  She was sucking me into some desolate netherworld.  She cheered me on as I tightened the belt of her jeans.  ‘Just one more notch,’ she would say. ‘You’re not quite there yet. Tighter and tighter.  It did not occur to me that she was trying to kill me. She was the rent collector and she had come to collect her due.  ‘Just pay me what you owe me.’  Our roles had been reversed and I was now the one feeding off her. My Perfect Friend was unencumbered.  She was free.

Sometimes I loved her, mostly I began to hate her. And I discovered that she was a a fair weather friend. For when the storm closed over us she backed away. ‘I’m going now, little girl,’ she whispered. ‘You don’t need me anymore.’

But sometimes when I wake up in the night, afraid and alone, I would do anything to get her back.


July 2, 2008

My mother telephoned to say my aunt has cancer.  Something happened.  A few years ago.  A sorry, sordid little tale.  But she doesn’t deserve that.  No one does.  Everything is fragmenting around me.  Even Nobby is fading away.  Enjoy what you can while you can.  Apologies for the incoherence.

I gave this poem to Nobby just after our beautiful neighbour Jo died:
And death shall have no dominion

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

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