sky

it hurts to look up to the sky
into that deep
perfect infinite blue of the universe
why do my eyes ache in the light?
I wait for an answer,
and turn towards it anyway.
the power of victim is strong
and sticky,
but I know
as the sun wrings tears from my eyes
that it is not more than the
power of truth.
the power of perfect is strong
and incorrect.
a vision of material attainment
burns holes in my soul –
and that is just,
despite the child’s protestations of
need and want and why.
new beliefs are delicate like
virgin shoots from the ground
and the galaxy eyes of newborns.
and samely, bring the deep
joy of reality.
I am still healing,
still connecting to the gratitude strand
that ties the experiences of cruelty together.
without loss
I could not be me
and the time that I screamed against
all that I was
is over.
into the stars, or the sky, or the eyes of
newborns, the fresh shoots of spring
or the dying leaves of winter;
I allow the ache in my eyes,
and I live.

lover

our friend with the red-haired
beard became my lover.
and like no other he
pushes and pulls me up and down
hills and planes.
I guess I spill my guts out onto
the floor more than he’d expect
and being so stoic and sweet,
I don’t know if he knows
what to do when a girl comes to him
holding out her own intestines.
but it doesn’t matter,
because my red-haired lover will
try anyway.
toaster’s broken,
fuck knows where to start, but
he starts.
that’s why I like him.
stoic and sweet and full of
practical advice and
reminders that life really
is not that serious, girl.
and when the sun comes out
and illuminates the flecks of
gold in his red-haired beard
god, it makes me feel sweet
and I revel as I feel his
elasticity sweat into my skin
and my softness dripping into
his open mouth.
lover,
I hope we don’t ever
step on each other’s hearts.

pairs

pairs of eyes
(mostly blue, one pair brown, one pair hazel)
I looked into wishing for
eternal love
unconditional, magical love
I begged them not to leave mine for
a single second.
so, well, when I saw the girl
in the mirror, I spat at her.
she stared into my skin
taking in every blocked pore
and said nothing but “I’m sorry”.

not good enough!
I said,
and I spat at her again.

I locked the door
looked down at my feet
jammed cotton wool into my ears
and when the outside light burned in
(at about four o’clock)
I shut the curtains, too.
not good enough! I said,
and I hung a scarf over the mirror
so she couldn’t look at me any more.

it hurts, I said.
it hurts so much (I gripped my knees and
rocked like a child fallen from a climbing frame).
I looked over to the mirror and its scarf
and I couldn’t see her
but when I picked the cotton wool from
my right ear to replace it
I heard her whisper from behind my improvised
iron curtain.
“I’m sorry”, she said.
“I’m sorry”.

well, I went back into the outside light
after a little while
but still I avoided her in car windows and shop fronts
and mirrors
and oddly metallic hand-dryers and sheets of foil and ice
she caught up with me eventually, though.
and by habitual force
I cleared my little throat ready to
gob right at her, the insolent bitch.

she was still saying it.
“I’m sorry”, she said.
“no time for that,
I’m on my way to
meet a blue-eyed surgeon who’ll fix my pinholes and chips and
prevent that nasty infection from returning to my
badly sutured wounds”.

she said nothing

then

“I’m sorry”, she said.
“I said no time for that!”
and I lifted my hand to silence her

wait
what
she reaches back delicately
she doesn’t grab me like the last blue pair
nor shout like the first blue pair
she doesn’t scream and hit like the brown pair, either

I stare down at my own hand, and shuffle off
to meet the surgeon
but I begin to wonder what would happen
if I looked at her a little more often

dominoes

everybody else fell
down like dominoes,
slick and lacquered and
all inevitably spread over the
carpet, getting lost under
the sofa. but
they were not dominoes
no, they were not dominoes.
no, pain did not exist in
that house that smelt like sweet
clean pickings of herbs and tea
and essential oils in the bath –
not to me.

there was no punishment in
the sweet house
there were no laws to break in
that clean air, there.
well, they had pain all the same,
those protectors of angels.
pain all the same and worse than most,
but they did
not turn into dominoes
or instruct me to lie face-down
and upon be placed broken
sacks of boulders.
no, they did not turn into dominoes.
I didn’t really like to
play dominoes but
it didn’t matter because there was a hundred
jokes and a hundred games of
chess and a
hundred slices of honey on
toast and a hundred discussions
of the best books on the shelf at
forty-five minutes
past bedtime.

protectors of angels don’t
have to say a magic phrase or
read a magic book or
know a magic spell or do
much more than
love unconditionally, practically,
not really.

so tell me when
you look into the eyes of children,
do you find it hard?
to be their books
honey
computer games
shit television shows
fart jokes
to be the acceptance of
their tears and joy?
I used to wonder if
I should thank the universe
for their love,
or god,
or some great beautiful uncontrollable
catastrophic cosmic power,
but why should I
thank anyone but them when
they were the ones who
chose to give it?

no,
no god or cosmos
no higher power
no luck or chance
is responsible for
soft sheets or
allowing a ten year old to
use all the hot water,
so gratitude goes
where it goes;
to them, a choice as
conscious as all of theirs.

thank you.
I love you.

jetty

he grips my arm around the wrist
heavy-knuckled fingers all adorned
with my favourite jewellery,
digging into my sweet skin and
child-like bone.
“oh,
what a pretty ring!”
I exclaim,
although he cannot hear me
because I am underwater,
and my mouth is so full and
wet, that no sounds can escape.
he grips stagnantly,
with no intention of letting go
and I suppose that I feel safe
even as I feel cold salt water
filling both of my lungs and
the sting of blood where the
silver scrapes and bruises me.
“I’m drowning,
so let me
go!”
he doesn’t hear.
I attempt to protest
and scratch away at him with my
free arm, like a crazed
rat in a trap.
he doesn’t let go.
the water is distorting my vision
but I can see his eyes
(which are still
full of hurt,
by the way)
staring down at me through
the slop and crash of waves.
he must be cold
or getting tired, at the
very least.
my legs are thrashing now,
and I know I want to sink
and see the sea-bed.
“let
go!”
he seems confused.
does he?
I can’t see.
my wrist doesn’t hurt and
he seems confused.
I breathe a great load of water
it’s all white
is he there?
I can’t see him
no
there’s no noise
my bracelet
it’s stuck to the jetty
I can’t get it off
where did
he go
I can’t
get it off
he’s gone

torches

yes, she brings me flowers
wrapped tight in a tesco bag
more than one smile
dances on her face, and
so I look and learn there
in that great establishment of education

she never grieves
she lives
she puts pain in the
wicker basket on her bicycle
and cycles into the sun
no matter how heavy it may be

she is a stream, river
and a fountain waterfall all
together at once, not
without mud or silt but
flowing, flowing, flowing always
washing us clean of
our sins and sorrows

with this power of water
she could erode us
but she chooses to make us float
she could drown us
but she chooses to cleanse us
she could guide us foolish sailors to our deaths
but she chooses to hold great torches up as guides

thank god,
thank god for her
I think as milk comes out of my nose
while I snort and shriek with laughter