My father would say so much with his eyes and hands. Sitting up in his burgundy armchair like a thorn. He would dress in waistcoat and trilby to walk up the road to the bookies on blossom warm afternoons. And when he was gone, I waited in his shadow for his sing-song step to return up the stairs. And when he didn’t return, I sat there lost like our place in history and the world.
Something was wrong when I left the country. Heart tight, sorrow crawling through the blood. Leaving meant joining an age-old tradition, down dusty roads at the crack of dawn. Humid bodies, sweat mingling fear, ebb and flow red blue and green paints. Thrumming bass behind the truck. Before us, lined streets, roped between black and white bodies. We whine to claim space.
I love the freedom assembled lines give. Celebrate, protest, mourn, and escape: The Procession. My father who packed away home in his grip on arrival; was Roberta Flack who set off a smile. I was left to shift between the gap and practice owning something around blackness. I had a feeling I would never be enough. There are times of melting, with the turn of a record, under a pink moon, when there is so much beauty to live, when I recount memories of love tucked inside.
A poem can start with the sound of water falling onto my body. Allow it’s curious wet teeth to sink into my flesh, to pull out chucks of questions to fuel a conversations with myself, later.
The ability to be present was a luxury my mother never had as she worked 3 jobs with her hand down toilets and fixed smile for the men with keys and brutal laughs.
I claim the ability to be present. To allow my yearning for a past to awaken a future I will imagine, as I salver my arms and legs and belly, housing a familiar homesickness I’m not sure where from, with coconut oil.
Turning cold hard oil, soft and warm against my skin, I reconstruct fragments of history, lost in colluded archives, and turn them into bleeding scars and pickled memories of somethings rather than nothings.
When I’m ready to forgive and understand, I’ll conjure Dad back from the dead, sit him down, and ask why he never ever mentioned love, in all his administering of disciplined care.
Dressed, hair twisted and walking across green fields, and under cherry blossom, I swallow doubts to turn a phase over and over against the roof of my mouth, rewriting with each footstep. Slide stepping cliches, kicking around experimental metaphors.
Or the poem could hit me full force when I walk into the coffee shop. Glasses steamed, journal in hand, eyes on drinks board, but already knowing my order by heart, the table I’ll take – number 13, my lucky number.
Acting like the fugitive from my life, here, I steal time to soften my gaze and repurpose the image of the sea into an open window that will startle you, dear reader, into a new perspective, into a new way of holding your mind and your heart towards yourself.
The day dawns bright after the rain. It’s an opportunity not to be missed. Now we’re into October, how many days like this will we get to enjoy.
The man with his two dogs says it’s 4 degrees. I ask him, the air or the sea as we grin like school kids on an outing to the seaside.
The temperature of the air. The sea is much colder, it’s bitterly cold. He says.
And I agree as I take to the sea and the waves crash in and recede with a dragging undertow. No chance of swimming today. Too wild. But I’m fine just jumping waves and squealing. I get all childish with the sea. All inhibitions go out the window and pure joy takes up space in my whole being.
5-10 minutes of jumping and waves bursting over my head and I’m ready to meet my day