National poetry day

Apparently, it’s today, and it has a theme. This year it’s Freedom.

Well, that’s appropriate, as young Felix is about to make a break for it. He moves into student accommodation in just a few days. What a lot of fun and shenanigans he is going to have! (I’m glad I won’t be there to watch, though).

He is fed up of his Mummy by now, but just wait, as soon as he misses my cooking he’ll be crying down the phone. Alternatively, he might just learn to cook properly for himself, which is what I’m hoping. The mark of a real man, in my view.

Anyway, to celebrate National Poetry Day (which should be every day actually), here’s a little poem I wrote for him when he was 2. It’s less of a poem and more of a recording of the anguished conversation we had walking home one day. He was always good at expressing himself!*

I want to stop walking
(for Felix)

I want to stop walking
I want to live
right here
on the street.
I’m too tired to move.
I’ll sleep here!
I can’t get home.
It’s impossible.
Don’t even think I could do it.
I want to stop walking!
I want to stop walking
right here
forever.

 

IMG_4874.jpg

Cuteness.

Good luck, Felix! I love you.
*For that, read tantrums 🙂

Motherhood in blue

illustration of mother and child with baby

How a Mother’s heart
can ache
the partitioned chambers
beating in time
to the footsteps
leading away
from the front door.

It is eternal work.
Unapplauded hours
of toil
and mayhem
the undervalued craft
of forming
whole people.

Having taught play,
good sense,
mischief,
creativity,
and kindness,
it feels
there is little in return

save perhaps

for the flash of a brilliant smile at the end of the drive.

 

 

—————–

PS: Thanks to my friend, Ahu, for loaning me one of her photos for the inspiration for this illustration.

PPS: That naughty cat of ours has been gravely ill – emergency operations late at night type ill. All very distressing. He’s OK, but he’s in the vet’s cat hospital, and must remain there for the next few days! (Thank goodness we took out pet insurance, though we grumbled sorely about the cost of it! Let’s hope it works).

So much going on in my heart today. I need a hug. And I think I may even have a nap this afternoon!

Feeding the fish

Ah! A poem from long ago days – I found it today in an battered old folder while I was looking for something else. I like those unexpected discoveries. I thought this photo of a recent (sold!) painting would go nicely.

Painting of a whale by trudi Murray

Detail from ‘Never ignore the song of a whale’ – Sold

Feeding the fish

at the tropical house
and they are
big as buses
ponderous and stupid
so many
awful vacuums
hoovering up
toothless
and slowly
what we throw in
from the pot.
I have no desire
to buy a second lot.
It stinks.
Plus, the look
that catfish
is giving me
makes me uneasy,
and there are
marmosets
next
and poisonous frogs
and tortoises,
which I sound out
like testing a a loaf.
They are perfectly done.
Later on
the keepers
drape
a snake
round your neck,
while I hold the baby
and wonder at you.
At nearly 3
you are
brave and exotic,
joining in,
daring and fearless.

You fall asleep in the car on the way home.

After lunch
and while you nap
your Daddy and I
make love
in the pantry.
It is dark
in there
and the black-eye beans
floating in brine
start to haunt me.
I giggle too much
to be useful.

All afternoon
we play
feeding the fish
with a cardboard box and some corks.
And we roll the baby
around the living room rug
our own giant millipede
all his legs
in the air
ticklish & tickling.

Text from Berlin

old german telephone with painting by trudi Murray

(For Alex)

You sent me a text from Berlin:
I’m in a flea market
on my day off
there’s an old telephone
I’m going to buy it, OK?

I texted back:
no
where will we put it
another thing to gather dust

You bought it anyway
and hauled it back
a relic, black and heavy with secrets
it sits
mysteriously
connected only to itself
on a chair
in the corner of the kitchen
guests wonder about it

I didn’t want it,
I tell them.
I said: no
I said: another thing to gather dust.

But then I say
the thing is,
dust is part of the story of life.
It’s proof that people live here.

You sent me a text from Berlin.
I said no.

But I was wrong.

This is the leg

This is the leg that had a cut
and this is the germ that crawled right in
This is the fever that came on fast
and this is the bed of hot and cold
This is the dash for help at dawn
and this is the Doctor who acted quick
This is the blip he expertly spots
and this is the query? a bad surprise
This is the Doctor who ordered a scan
and this is the specialist and her machine
This is the findings in black and white
and this is me, reluctant to hear it

This is the waiting.

This is the fun, I thought on the way
and this is the town I’ve never been to
This is the map I followed along
and this is the clinic here, at 3
This is the waiting room, hot and full
and this is the baby crawling about
This is the consultant, halfway through
and this is his list of people to see
This is my turn, ushered in
and this is the battle of wills he wasn’t expecting

This is the way he lays it out
and this is the way I scrumple that up
This is the reasoning he tries after that
and this is the stare I give him.
This is the way he doesn’t flinch
and this is the way I keep on looking
This is the moment I almost break
and this is him, looking down first, shuffling his papers

This is the victory.

This is the part when he offers to tell me a story
and this is me bluntly saying I don’t need a story.
This is my questioning, the need to know the long words
and this is him almost dismissive.
This is my insistence,
and this is his acceptance and then a thorough explanation

This is the professional covert glance at the clock.

This is the moment of me expressing how I feel about it all emotionally
and this is him spitting it out.
This is his bald outline of how the facts are totally different to how I feel about it.

This is me staring him down (again),
and this is me not crying not crying not crying.

For Gods’ sake, do not cry, you fool.

This is my question of ‘what ifs’, the prospect of not doing anything, nothing at all
and this is the outcome: death
This is the low blow about seeing my children grow up

and therefore

This, this is my consent.

This is me poised and tall until the exit and down the stairs and out the door and round the corner
and this is me on a bench in the churchyard, crying.

This is the pub where I stop and consider a drink
and this is the courtyard of builders
This is the reality – do I really think I’m going to sit in there with a drink by myself and not pique their attention?
This is what usually happens to me.
And so this is the bus home.

This is the mac and this is the desk and these are the paints and here are the words
and this is the haven I’ve built.

And this poem is the furious revenge.

 

 

 

 

Leaving

Child
when you pushed your green plastic wheelbarrow
out of the door
in protest at the new baby
and marched off down the street
and right round the corner,
I didn’t realise at first.
A woman had found you
and had a hold of you
by the time I flew up there,
clutching a nappy
and an astonished newborn.
I had a baby last week
I panted,
I think he’s upset.
Age 2, you said:
I’m not upset. I’m just leaving you.
The woman let you go and still you wouldn’t
come back to me.
I called your bluff and walked back down the street
without a backward glance,
heart breaking & pride shattered,
giving you space to follow.
A risky strategy.

That was your first leaving.

A mind like yours
does not come along often
and
the responsibility of it
has always been heavy.
I taught you to read before you were three,
allowed you to take apart the hoover
and answered questions
every day
on metaphysics & microwaves
before I even woke up.

The time you threw all the shoes
at the door
in a rage
because I could not remember
Einsteins’ theory of relativity

That was your second leaving.

There were countless others.
You left us all behind so quickly.

Child,
I don’t know where you are in London
what you are doing
and with whom.
I don’t know when you will be getting home
or how
and via which kebab shop,
and you are not answering your phone.

It’s 1am.
I don’t know whether to go to sleep not knowing.
Or whether I should call your bluff
and walk down the street without a backward glance

Hoping that one day you will come back to me.

Pressure

IMG_4588

With free ghost, a concept which is going to keep me giggling for the whole year.

 

The problem of making work in an over saturated world is compounded by the noise of social media.

Being plugged in constantly to several different channels all at once, doing my best to keep up online*, as they say one must* when doing business in 2017, is exhausting at best and at worst, creatively destructive.

The best way I have learnt to cope with it is to try to remain ahead of the pressure and just do my own thing, relentlessly. So the trend is xyz. Well, pfffffft. Who says? Social media influencers? Really. It’s all going to burn down, one day, you know.*

So a part of me is always re-evaluating what I’m up to. Am I being true to my own self and originality? Is my spark burning low? I suppose it must, at times. All this is pretty intense, you know.

Well, apart from tea, gazing out of the window, reading a lot and regular chocolate biscuits, the other thing that helps keep everything original is A NEW IDEA. Not just a little one, a big one. One that will last a whole year.

On Saturday, walking round an antiques market, I was struck by a bolt of lightening, an idea from nowhere. I had to sit down on an expensive re-conditioned chair made out of an old warthog and catch my breath.

I CAN NOT WAIT to put this idea into action, though it’s going to take a lot of planning. I’m going to need to learn how to bind books, make artefacts and models and put them into bottles (it’s going to be dementing so great), find a gallery owner who catches my vision (oh my goodness, this is the scary part), catch ghosts, write hundreds of poems and paint a series of large exquisite paintings. As you can see, I’m going to be busy.

Should I test the market for likely commercial demand for paintings, poems, ghosts and handmade artefacts in bottles first?

Mmm. What would Picasso* do, do you think, the man who made monkey models out of toy cars?

Yes! Exactly. I’ll follow my heart.

——————————-

*Writing this blog is definitely not keeping up online, for me. It’s a total joy. I love it more than anything.
*They do say this. I agree, most of the time. The internet does bring work (and friends).
*What will I do with my time without the internet, though. Oh, see paragraph 7 🙂 AND, I’m still going on that picture book.
*My hero!

IMG_2002

Baboon and Young by Picasso. I saw this in Paris in the Picasso museum.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: