I’m taking a Textling-break, friends. Feel in need of an incremental change at least while this blasted illness rumbles on. Have started a new project, a series of short poems called Humbles. Want to play a little more, experiment. Each Humble zooms in on and distils one aspect of a day. A way of marking (tired) time lest it slips away unattended. Hope to achieve a form of creative consistency as well. M.E. will feature, but also broader themes.
This is my favourite so far (my grieving visual artist self perked up!). Most aren’t as elaborate though. Just a couple of lines at times, or one word with letters settling for a rest, yet eager to be heard.
Trying to post daily for a month, on Facebook and Instagram. You can also find me on Twitter. Keep in touch?
Mag plucked reasons to be thankful from egregious days. I mean to follow suit, shall practise gratitude conscientiously. This morning’s list, to linger over (note to self!), details eased loose from concertina folds of anxious mind: hearing the voices of my family, over the telephone, means so much; writing when hope and mettle need retouching; ferocious skull-pain dulling; a meditation buddy; chums who keep in touch; Meryl, my sparkle-hearted carer, humming while she works; the taste of cauliflower, oven-baked, bedecked with turmeric; knowing Mag, for a little while; and, these last few weeks, scattered yet finely tuned exchanges with two #BedFest friends, one old, one new, who seem to see me from their bedsteads on another continent. Kandice, Kendrick, thank you. Here’s looking at you too!
Audio when I can
A tribute to
Mag’s capacity for deep communion, care, and laughter in the midst of hardship was immense. She stayed in touch with friends through fantastically abbreviated text messages. Notes written on kitchen roll were precious. Even more so the occasional voice recording – words barely louder than a breath. Her inner liveliness, her fierce intelligence, her willpower, her curiosity and wit, shone through her arduous, yet often joyful utterances.
She craved visits, but could seldom manage them. Even minutes spent in silence by her bedside left her depleted and worsened symptoms for weeks. What a fight it was to be alive! I don’t know how Mag endured. Her faith certainly sustained her. In our local M.E. group she was known as a prayer warrior who would plead for you or a loved one. People who had never met her were moved by her generosity of spirit, her desire to be part of a community, to be of use. I felt more supported by her than anyone else.
To her great distress Mag lost the ability to text, although messages were still read out to her. Unable to communicate with the outside world, without hope for reprieve from constant agony, as experienced by so many patients with severe M.E. who suffer mostly out of sight, Mag took that final step.
We are all diminished by her loss. Missing her has only just begun.
Audio when I can
Those times when you’re feeling too much and speech gets lost in the folds of fatigue. When you’re feeling too much and can’t call a friend, or stomp it off, or sit in a park and stare through trees. When you’d trudge to the corner shop, if you could, hoard jam rolls and wine for crying; or stand rounds at a pub you’ve never set foot in. You’d dunk morsels of breaded past in each glass, shout ‘keep them coming!’; fall asleep in a book you found on a bench, still between billowing lines. First light you’d take a knife to the bedroom wall, carve a way to a sun-lit now. You’d climb every belfry in town to roar down from, or, should all fail, wave a white flag, with her name on.
When a friend dies, too much is just not enough.
Hospital, for xyz test. First patient, quiet affair. After, quick dip into coffee shop. Rudolph’s clogged jelly nose quivers on chocolate log. Take a jiggle over a jingle any time! On way home first surge of pain, sudden, as if flicked by a switch. Next few hours, midst deepening fatigue, it fans out and intensifies, until verily, verily, if you could speak you’d swear on King Lear’s life that you crashed down those castle stairs and hit every cobblestone, turret to potter’s field. Each bone clangs to a different tune. Soon you’re all but brittled out, a fractured creature, with gigantic, useless claws (they hurt till last). Something Giacometti might have cast in bronze, cool and cruel.
Abjection. No inner sense of ‘us’, no reach, no touch. PEM doesn’t sound like much.
Credible year, the sweet with the rough. Downward slope chez moi, but:
Heard (and spoke) poetry twice; lay in grass by last unshorn lavender field. Talked more, picked up the tab with huffs and puffs. Horrified by politics of separation. What? Who? Forgone collusion. Grateful for #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, intersectionality. Time for self-examination.
Summer, garden birds fled building noise; light impaled on dirty window pane. Wanderer squatted in cherry tree, her antlers tickle when she kisses me. Oh, let me swoon a little! Saw my mother – mutual solicitude revived. No books, although bought a few; no gazing up at sequined sky. I fall long before night.
Treat of purple trouser suit. Next year will droop in style. Winter now. If I stay still, why doesn’t time?
Nothing of me that did not fade. Head down from cloud with blades in hair. Limbs barbed with pain. Hands crudely carved and not plugged in. Eyes sport a coat of Vaseline. Memory is holed up in a bur.
Flame-throwing skirt adjusts to clothes rail smoulder-mode. Harangues the tired one in viperous tones. Call this vernacular? If ears could bolt…
Practice run for bigger things? Naaaa. Made the most? Ta. Tiny though, and all ties cut.