The light

The light has to get somewhere, touch something, to exist
You take acid as we’re sitting in the air
The old woman pours whitewash over her husband’s head
We’re on the left
There’s no box, no comfort zone
Anything but raw paper is a compromise
Two girls with acne and stringy bleached hair
Occupy Wall Street
A month in the hole
In solitary
The way to connect is to work together
I had a clear vision
Looming orange clouds, an apocalyptic sunset
Something that makes you smaller or channels your movement

The light has to get somewhere
A curve through spacetime
A function
A journey, transmission, idea
In the dream we’re on a plane, rows of seats, going somewhere
We don’t know what we want but it isn’t this
People keep pets
The husband is grey and decrepit
If your mother couldn’t hold you while you cried
hold yourself now
Try to hide yourself
If you throw up the next morning
does that mean you’ve poisoned yourself?
When you look for yourself as a thing
there is nothing there

The light has to get somewhere, touch something
Is that the same t-shirt?
Occupy Breastfeeding
Howl, keen, be the banshee of yourself, announcing your death
I take scissors out of your hand
You’re taking acid
Seeing the nothing inside yourself
A curve through spacetime
A function
A journey, transmission, idea
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
In the dream
the husband is grey and decrepit
The woman pours whitewash
Anything but raw paper is a compromise
The noises when I cried and cried frightened me

The light has to get somewhere, touch something, to exist
People keep pets instead
Curl into a ball, try to hide yourself
We don’t know what we want but it isn’t this
Fenced in, fenced out
You in the aisle seat
I in the middle
Light is nothing, only
potential
When you look for yourself as a thing
there is nothing
The way to connect is to work
against each other
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
Reflected, absorbed, refracted
Tear at your clothes and hair, bite yourself

The light has to get somewhere
I smile a little
Acid, you’re taking acid
Light is nothing, only
potential, just
an idea
Occupy Everything
Looming orange clouds
The window seat free
No-one looking out
This is not conditional
A month in the hole
Two months
Give you time to think
What if the neighbours come
and try to cheer me up?
Not depressed
Not ill
Don’t need anything
In full control
of self, life, responses
An adult
Tear at your clothes and hair, bite yourself
I don’t know what I want
If your father couldn’t hold you while you cried
hold yourself now
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
Polarised, amplified, focussed
There’s no box
This is not
conditional
You don’t have to be
a good boy, a good girl
I had a clear vision
The light
has to touch something

(First published in Uneven Floor)

Trauma teddies

The ambulance comes. My son —
soft hair, round face, big eyes —
gets a choice of bears: blue or yellow,
both hand-knitted, character-faced, hug-sized.
After some deliberation, he chooses blue,
names him Bluey, cuddles him
during the prodding and questioning
and afterwards brings him home.
It’s all the people
in their ones and twos
who are not ashamed
to give a damn.

Earning the minimum wage, fundraising
for the children’s hospital, I phone
Mrs Whieldon, alone
in her unit.
I ask for a hundred dollars
or eighty or fifty or
whatever she can manage. She says,
sorry, I’m a pensioner—
but I make quilts
for the hospital. I think
of a seven-year-old wired and tubed
in strange-smelling rooms,
finally relaxing under a grandmotherly patchwork.
It’s all the people
in their ones and twos,
the old ladies who have no
money, never
have, never
will, never
wanted to.

Mrs Weston, in another unit,
tells me how happy she is
that her hip-bone was recycled
for kids with spina bifida.
I think, that’s her excuse to say No,
but she gives twenty dollars and says
it’ll have to go on her credit card
this week.
I take the number.
The supervisor’s watching
the clock. I don’t ask Mrs Weston
how her hip feels —
but maybe she’d rather
not think about it. Better to think
about the children in the hospital.

Mrs Whieldon talks
about her friend, Betty,
who knits.
When the hospital ran
out of trauma teddies, Betty
knitted forty-nine.
It’s all the people
in their ones and twos.

(First published in Creatrix)

carry

Carry on as if nothing has changed.
Let yourself be carried away.
Carry yourself like a dancer.

If I carry equal weights in my left and right hands,
I can walk much further.
People think I carry my computer everywhere.
I carried my babies close to my heart.

If I lived in America
I’d be tempted to carry a gun.
When will I be carried away?
Do I carry myself like a dancer?

I won’t be carried away
by anyone but myself.
I still carry a photograph somewhere.
Carry your baby close to your heart.