Dusk

In the hum, alert and tired,

A mind swims. Morrison

Sha-la-las from tinny old

Pub speakers. Heavy-ringed

Hands rest on scratched leather arms.

Crumbs nestle into cracks in age-

Faded upholstery. Once

Proud Patterns, too tired to try,

Sag and fray under the long

Weight of time. And in the low

Buzz, wired and slow, a mind swims.

Daydream

I would like to hide today:

Put my adult self away.

Find a place that’s still and dark:

Crouch on mulch and crunchy bark,

Underneath a veil of leaves,

Watching insects, chewing sleeves.

I just want to hide today:

Find my own safe space to play.

Here, where no grown-up could stand,

I would build my own wild land:

Among the dappled spots of light,

Nature’s toys would talk and fight.

Star-crossed stones would say their vows,

Pine cone friends have angry rows.

Leafy dragons, breathing flames,

Pick their prey and play their games.

Spider baddies lurk in caves;

Ants take orders as their slaves.

Earthworm spies would tell the queen

All the mischief they have seen.

In the midst of all this strife

I’d be happy with my life.

Ladybirds would climb my arms and

Flustered birds sound shrill alarms.

I’d lose track of time and space

In my damp and cosy place.

So I close my eyes and go.

No one else will ever know.

Bewilderness

Sometimes all I can feel in my heart

Is this hollow, aching, longing, need

But I don’t know what the need is for.

Today it hurts inside and I don’t know why.

It hurts inside and tears smart in my eyes.

I am fighting an invisible army:

Silent: taught to play at pain.

Each time I turn, they slip away.

But, as they do, they catch my skin

With whistling blades.

Finish me: I’ve lost this game.

Fromm’s Fear

Rushing blurred light-lines

Drawn towards a

Brooding mass: this torrid storm.

And there, in potent space,

The shadow shape of them,

As yet unknown, unheard,

But felt with all the feel

Of stranger’s prickly touch.

I dare not,

Dare not go inside this

Labyrinthine dusk,

To tempt my waxy wings

In hubris heat.

Perhaps it’s better here

Playing hide and seek with fear

Under the mattress springs

With other dusty things.

Yes it is better here

With blood beat in my ear,

Where all the harm I do

Is done to me, not you.

 

 

Writer’s PostScript
For any who haven’t read Erich Fromm’s book ‘The Fear of Freedom’ – (Die Furcht vor der Freiheit, 1941) –
it is a really good book about the difficult balance we all face between wanting to be free to make choices but feeling overwhelmed and frightened by too much choice/responsibility. It is just as relevant to politics now, as it was when he wrote it in 1941. My poem is about the way that this fear applies to individuals too. In particular, it is relevant to my situation at the moment returning to the workplace. I am really torn between a renewed sense of liberating confidence and the familiar self-doubt and anxiety that has dogged me for years. I wonder if it rings true for anyone else returning to work after a long break or taking on new responsibilities. Thanks for reading!

Mat Leave

Watering can, little shoes,

April sun, baby blues,

Wet socks, soggy flowers,

Tired eyes, long hours.

 

Chubby cheeks, half-formed words,

Drone of cars, songs of birds,

Deepest love, smothered rage,

Silent protest, mother’s cage,

 

Eager eyes, sticky hugs,

New to nature, eating bugs,

Scraped knees, mummy kiss it,

‘When it’s gone,’ they say, ‘you’ll miss it.’

 

In fresh air, short of breath,

Should he nap? What if: cot death?

Filled nappy, teatime tears,

Guilt, resentment, shameful fears.

 

Fences, hedges, walls divide

So many of us trapped inside,

Feeling we are not enough,

Scared to say we find it tough.

 

I find it hard. How do you find it?

Do you ever wish you could unwind it?

Do you cry on cold baked beans

And plug your babies into screens?

 

Join the club. Come and share.

There’s others like us everywhere.

When we hide our fear and pain,

Depression smugly smiles again.