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Archive for the ‘Poetic Prose pieces’ Category

What am I waiting for?

For the winter to be over?

For Spring to arrive?

For my life to start?

For something to give a little, to feel that sudden shifting that says something is going to move soon?

For the stars to move into a favourable conjunction?

For better times?

Till I am grown up enough to understand the world?

Till my prayers are answered? Till I am strong enough?

Till I am better?

Till I can love myself enough?

Till someone rescues me?

Till the conditions for growth are better?

What am I waiting for?

Is this inactivity simply a lull, a pause in proceedings or is it the preface to a slow decline?

Is each forward step I take that is met by a sliding backwards, a waste of effort?

Am I just clinging on to stop the current, the fierce force of the river, sweeping me away?

I feel like an actor, hiding in the wings, waiting for my cue to step on stage, take my place and speak my lines.

I feel like the crown princess waiting for a crown that never comes without the grief of losing the one who wore it last.

I feel like a child who cannot grow up.

I feel like the eternal Miss Havisham, trapped in a soul that gathers more cobwebs and mould each unkissed year.

I feel like the buds brought in too early that dry and wither on the branch, never to open and flower.

I feel like a treasure hunter who only has half the map; the half where X marks the spot is lost to me.

I feel like the hero of a book, the one where  the reader knows his fate but the hero does not.

I feel like I have lost my way; I’m sitting on my luggage at Paddington station and hoping someone with look after this bear.

I’m scared I’ve missed my moment.

I’m scared I have missed my cue, and the rest of the cast have had to muddle through without me.

I’m scared that I’m in limbo, stuck in a dead hinterland of nothingness where I wait for an eternity for a moment that never comes.

Have I dithered too long about destiny?

Have I failed to make my choices, waiting instead to see what happens?

Has it all passed me by while I stand, frozen by fear and by self doubt?

Or is this instead the patience to wait for the right moment, even without knowing what that would look like?

Is it the rightful caution of someone whose bones know where she should be going, even if her head does not?

Is it the wisdom to wait and not try to force the world into a shape it’s not ready to move into?

Is it the silent knowing that tells you that this is not IT, that mystical something you’ve been waiting for?

That inner certainty that something right for you is there somewhere?

Is it that sane assessment that tells you that while the frying pan is hot, the fire is hotter yet?

What am I waiting for?

I do not know.

But chasing intangibles will not bring it faster.

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Roses…

 

Is there someone there?

I’m almost sure I can feel you there. The scent of roses comes and goes. It reminds me of something long ago.

The hairs of  my neck are bristling. I can feel you. Who are you? Talk to me. Please.

Nothing

the computer hums softly, the blood in my ears sings

nothing again but the rising of tiny hairs over my whole body. I tingle.

Communicate with me somehow. I jump when the auto-correct turns lower case letters to capitals. Silly cow.

It’s easy to scare myself, imagine things. I make a …well, not a living, but some money from imagining things, so it’s what I naturally do. I take an idea and I let it grow like a weed until I see the form it wants to take and then I tend it so it grows the way it wants to.  I write sometimes like someone who is merely taking down dictation; my best work has always come that way. That sort of writing gives me butterflies and more as I write. I get drawn in and lost in the maze I create, a word-maze, a labyrinth that takes me to a centre somewhere deep inside me  and I find….what do I find there?

I can’t remember.

Who are you? You’ve been here before, months back, touching my hand, my cheek, that little brush like a passing cobweb. Who? Talk to me, let me know you are real and not something from my imagination. Send me a sign. Something I can’t talk myself out of. More than a failing starter switch on a kitchen light. Please.

I can’t feel or sense anything now and that scent of old roses with a dash of something else is gone too. I write that and a shiver starts along my spine. A breath of something.

What is this, what is going on? Is there something, someone there?

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Fragment of soul

 

The woods are almost silent to the untrained ear but if you stand still and ignore the hum of distant traffic, the forest sounds become overwhelming. The falling of leaves is like slow rain, pattering against the leaves still clinging to branch tips; a squirrel rummaging in the leaf-litter sounds like a much larger animal digging. The smell is the sweet mushroom scent of healthy decay, spicy and slightly erotic; the aroma of damp earth bringing back memories from beyond time when we were animals only.

I walk up the slope and into the grove of chestnuts, the undergrowth retreating into nothing but fallen leaves and a few bare dead plants and the grim green of persistent nettles. In late April this was a sea of blue, and the scent of wild hyacinth intoxicating in the warm spring air; but the bluebells are now withdrawn into skull-white bulbs, and are curled tight in their potential.

Muscles pull. I can feel age creeping up on me, but mostly this is the near permanent pain of a body that got put together ever so slightly wrongly. I know that I must be more and more careful as I age that I put less stress on joints that will bend and let me become circus-freak pretzel-shaped. Distantly I see the cobalt flash of magpie wing and I focus on the bird itself, bouncing on a twig too slight for its weight above the mud of the pond. I wonder if it will fall. It flies to a higher branch and a flurry of leaves drift down and coat the oily surface of the pond.

That’s when it happens, the flash of memory.

I’m holding a fragment of bone, curved like a primitive bowl, and smooth as only countless hands caressing it could make it. It lies in the palm of my hand, bigger and so much more significant than my small hand. I can see the suture lines where the skull bones fused together and I realise that I have always known this, that this skull I hold, broken and ancient, is somehow a part of me.

The curve is delicate, like a vessel made by a skilled and careful potter, and the skull it belonged too must have been a dainty one. None of the hefty brow-bones and bulging lobes that mine possesses. I hold only the very dome of the skull; I cannot see the start of the slope down to eye-ridges or the knobbly temples. You might use this fragment to scoop up spring water with and drink from, a forgotten sacrament that honours both the spring and the soul of the skull’s long dead owner.

I shiver and the images dissolve and I walk on, mesmerised by this fragment of soul memory.

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Lost #5

During the days that follow any memory of my life before the forest leaches away, until I cease to remember what it felt like to have a full stomach, to be comfortable and clean and to have any sense of who I am. Here I am a strange animal, walking on two legs for sure, but acting on instinct and impulse. I eat, not when I am hungry, for I am always hungry to the point of being ravenous, but when I find food. Seldom is it filling or tasty, but I swallow it down and after a few days where I vomit continuously till I think I may die, my body
adapts to the strange food and stops rebelling. I eat whatever is
edible, and no longer question this. Berries, leaves, nuts, grubs and
insects: but carrion is usually too far gone to risk eating, and I
have no means of making fire. A kill is a risky place to linger; the
predator will be close, if the meat is still fresh enough for me to
eat raw.

I drink water from the clear streams that criss cross the forest,
checking the soil by the banks for signs that any animals have been
there recently. At night I sometimes hear cries that tell me that
dangerous animals live too close to me and I shiver in whatever tree
I have chosen for my night’s rest. Sometimes, I find a deep pool and
swim in it, trying to rinse the filth from body and hair. My clothes
have become organic extensions of myself, ragged and dirty, but
somehow holding together enough to give me warmth enough to survive the nights. Gradually I forget that such things as beds exist. I
cannot imagine lying down to sleep; I doze, leaning against a tree
trunk, high up in one of the increasingly massive trees.

For as I journey deeper into the forest, either I have become infinitely smaller or the trees have become far taller than even my now distant memories of trees would have me believe. I have come to an area where the trees seem to have been growing since the start of time itself, and the spread of their branches keeps the forest floor clear of  smaller trees. No one has ever cleared away fallen wood; every branch that has fallen in a winter gale still remains undisturbed, home to a million insects and small mammals. I come to an area where many of the great trees have all fallen, leaving mountains of wood, piled against each other in shattered heaps. The trunks are many, many times my height, and when they stood, these giants rivalled mountains in their height. Once I might have told what manner of tree these were, but now I only know that I must scramble among them, for days at a time, to cross an area that may be less than a quarter of a mile across filled with treacherous heaps of decaying dead-fall and low growing vegetation like brambles.

When finally I get clear of the grove of fallen giants, I find that I am
among their living kin. Towering trunks, their skins rough and
fissured, soar skywards, and I can see only the tiniest glimpses of
sky through the dense canopy of leaves. The tree tops are hundreds of feet above me, and there are no branches low enough for me to climb up into the protective arms of the trees that night.

I shiver and wonder what beasts patrol this area of forest at night. I
must find somewhere to sleep or risk being prey myself when the deep velvety darkness falls and makes moving impossible. Among these trees, the canopy of leaves is so complete that even the sunlight filters through only imperfectly and the forest floor is filled with green shadows and little grows here.

I stand gazing up, mouth open in wonder, and begin to move among the columns of trunks that stretch miles in every direction without
variation, and wonder where I am to sleep this night when the cradles of branches are inaccessible to me.

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Lost #4

There are no paths. All around me, endless shades of green, with some brown and red and orange as counterpoint, and no opening, no indication that anyone has ever come this way before. I sag against the trunk of the tree I have just climbed, the memory of those distant mountains burned into my retina like the after-burn of lightning flashes, and for a few long minutes, I want to curl into a ball, and bury myself in the moist leaf-litter and return to the earth.

But somehow I square my shoulders and take a long deep breath. I gaze around carefully and I spot it: not a path as such, just a thread
through the greenery. It’s probably a deer path but it seems to be
going in the right direction at least, so I begin.

The way is not easy; I cannot walk, but rather have to weave myself in and out of fallen branches, over rocks and heavy rotting trunks.
Sometimes, in the soft earth I see the footprints of the deer who use
this trail and sometimes droppings, but they are old, and I feel sure
the deer do not come this way often.

I merge with the forest, my mind slipping into its rhythms as the sun
climbs higher and higher. I sip water from a tiny rivulet that
crosses the path, scooping water into my mouth; it tastes earthy, a
tang of smoky peat teases my taste buds, making me remember something I cannot quite put my finger on. It’s not unpleasant, just odd. I eat leaves, to stave off the hunger, and the occasional berry. In the back of my mind, I wonder how I know whether something is safe to eat or not, and worry that perhaps I do not.

By late afternoon, as the sun has begun its decline to evening, I have
covered perhaps a mile in a straight line and am exhausted and
filthy. I’ve crossed and recrossed the same ground, and it was only
seeing my own footprints in the moist ground my a stream that told me I had doubled back. I never once thought they might belong to someone else. Throughout this great wide forest that seemed from the treetops to go on to the edges of the earth, I cannot sense another human soul. Only birdsong and insects disturb the peace here.

I can sense the sunset even though I cannot see it and I know I must find shelter for the night. I’ve nothing to keep me warm and I am dimly aware that the food I have eaten would be sufficient for a
family of field-mice to live on. Every limb aches with exertion and
my heart sinks because I know that those mountains are still as far
away as ever.

As I climb into a tree and try to snuggle as close to the trunk as I
can, feeling the living force of the sap slowing inside, I ask
myself, why am I heading for the mountains?

But I sleep before I can even start to answer that question.

(for previous episode see: http://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/lost-3/

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For part 1 see Lost #1

For part 2 see Lost #2

Lost #3

I sit until my bones become weary and the grass becomes cold and damp beneath me; the glow-worms slowly flicker and fade and I am alone. Around me the trees softly sough in the night wind and I shiver. I am not dressed for this; my clothes seem unfamiliar and I get to my feet again.

The darkness has become less intense and I realise that the light is
starting to return and I scan the sky for signs of dawn. As the black
becomes navy blue and then a grey tinged with pink I can see I am
surrounded by trees which have grown up somewhat twisted and gnarled, their lower branches accessible even to me.

I walk round, my feet leaving a silvery trail in the dew laden grass
and select a tree I think I may be able to climb and find a massive
oak, its bark green with lichen and moss and scramble up into the
lower branches without much problem. Up and up I climb, awkward and inept and trembling at times when I look down.

It’s one of the tallest trees and when I reach the canopy, and have to
stop to catch my breath, I make the mistake of looking down. A tangle of branches weave in and out like a mandala below me and my mind becomes confused by the pattern. I shut my eyes and try to focus.

I open them and steady myself, gripping the wood tightly and shift a
little so I can turn left and right without risking slipping. Over
the sea of greens, the sun is rising, a great red ball that becomes
golden as I watch the mists spiralling up out of the forest. For as
far as my eyes can see, there is only trees, mile upon mile of
forest. I can see no roads or significant clearings beyond some that
seem to be where the more ancient of trees have fallen to their
deaths. I see no buildings or signs of people. In the extreme
distance, I can see the faintest glimmer of a mountain range, a thin
blue line of hummocks at the furthest horizon.

The forest is waking as I stand gazing over the canopy and I can hear birds and other creatures greeting the new day and I can also hear my stomach rumbling.

Slowly I realise that having got up this high, I have now to get down again and after fixing the direction of those mountains in my mind, I begin my shaky descent.

As I climb nervously down, all I can think about is that sea of green
and the miles of endless forest ahead of me. 

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Lost #2

The fall is so long I seem to cease to fall and the vertiginous feeling
of speed vanishes to be replaced by one of drifting. It makes no
sense at all as the sensation of plummeting had made my stomach lurch and heave and my soul seemed to curl round itself like a spider whose thread has been cut and instinctively wraps its legs round its soft body to protect it before it hits the ground.

I can feel the air whipping past me but the fear I felt seems to have
passed. I am not comfortable but I am not racked by terror any more
and I allow my limbs to uncurl from the foetal position, prepped for
crash landing and find that far from being midway in an endless fall,
I am lying on the ground, cushioned by soft grass. I know it is grass
because of the sweet fresh smell and I run my hands across it, and my hands come back moist with dew. It’s dark, still, but when I roll
onto my back, I see that above me are stars as bright as if the
universe were a billion years newer, set in sky of such rich velvety
darkness that it’s hard to believe it is not a jeweller’s cloth laid
out to show gems at their best. The stars indeed look polished and
newborn, glittering with white iciness you normally only see on a few
winter nights when the air is freezing and even the sounds of voices
become brittle as icicles.

And yet it is not cold but warm, as if the day before had been sunny.

I sit up, aware that I have no injuries. I can hardly take it in. I
fell for so long that I must have fallen an unimaginable height. To
land without harm, or even actually notice the moment I landed
baffles me and I wonder for a short moment what is happening to me.

A cricket strikes up nearby, much as a musician recommencing after a short break and around me, pinpoints of greenish light begin
appearing, low to the ground, and I rise to my feet and investigate.
Tiny phosphorescent creatures wait on the leaf-tips of low growing
plants; I touch one very gently with the very end of my finger and a
spot of glowing light appears there. They’re glow-worms, and they are all around me, in a circle, and their light seems to pulsate softly
in time to the song of the cricket.

I am breathless with wonder but I am also a little scared. Where am I and what am I here for?

I sit down, cross legged on the moist soft grass and I wait, though for what I cannot tell.

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