Maths is not my strong point (Final #smallstone)
Wrestling with figures knocks points off my IQ and makes me feel intensely blonde without ever going near a hairdresser or bottle of bleach. I stare manically at my expenses form and tell myself I can do it. My calculator has vanished somewhere under my desk and I panic and do the numbers on a post-it note and find myself ten Euros short. Panic. How can I have lost ten Euros? Same way I lost my glasses going up the Eiffel tower ~ sheer inattention and stress. Try again, using the calculator on the computer and magically the missing money reappears. I breath again, and count the remaining cash. It matches.
There are guardian angels that watch over people like me. I even got my glasses back, unharmed. We can’t be good at everything and maths is never going to be one of my strengths.
(ps. I am a natural blonde.)
A clock goes “tick”
And I stagger
Up the shores of sleep
Draped in weeds
And shreds of dreams
To face the day
Rubbing my eyes
Where have I been?
Thaw #smallstone 13
It’s still not warm but the change is still startling. I can sit in an unheated house, without needing two jumpers and feeling my fingers become chilled. I walked in the garden without wishing I had put a coat on. The ambient indoor temperature is comfortable even without the heating on.
On windowsills, sprouting bulbs in pots lean towards the light, yearning for the touch of sun. The green shoots of snowdrops shine with vibrant life. Hyacinth flowers still unopened seem paused for breath, and on the dining room table, oblivious of outside conditions, my jasmine plant opens bloom after starry bloom and fills the room with waves of exotic scent, making me think of Mediterranean gardens on summer nights.
It may be a temporary thing, but it might be enough to get me through to Candle-mas and the start of springtime.
Seagulls #smallstone 12
Seagulls circle low
Swirling and soaring around
Raucous calls ring out
Winter woodland #smallstone 11
The fallen leaves have changed from the glory of autumn to the uniform colour of the mud they are slowly disintegrating into, and the crispness of November has become the leathery texture of ancient snakeskin. Mud clings to my boots and to my jeans and my breath hangs like that of an asthmatic dragon as I walk, muscles aching from illness and make myself lengthen stride to make my heart pound. There are the tiniest of green shoots, snowdrops in all probability, but the leaf buds remain tightly bound and unresponsive. Around me though bird song occasionally trills out, the first tentative changes in their tunes can be heard if you know how to listen. They’re cautious, of course, and their chatter here and there is filled with rumour: we may live through this cold yet and come to the spring, but we must be strong. The trees are silent, lost in deeper sleep than Arthur the King, and even when I rest hand or ear on them, I sense nothing but dreaming. This is a time of blind trust, that the worst, the longest days of hardship are over and little by little, the light will return and with it, hope of new life.
Morning ritual #smallstone 8
I burn sage, each morning.
The snap of the lighter brings tiny tongues of flame licking at the grey leaves in the shell; the brilliant orange leaps and darts from leaf to leaf, before turning to a smoulder. Leaves char and burn and threads of smoke rise as I look to the east, to the risen sun lost in rain clouds. Softly I fan the eagle feather across the shell, wafting the smoke around, cleansing and restoring and I let the words of prayer speak silently to the patient Listener. Words of love and entreaty, some of gratitude, some of reproach and despair; no words are barred.
The faint blue tinge of sage smoke spreads through the room, the pungent scent calming, and I feel a sense of being heard.
That has to be enough, some days.
Bruised #small stone 6
The bruise on the back of my hand has blossomed like a strange demonic rose. “That’s going to bruise,” the nurse told me and she was right.
From a tiny red bud where the cannula failed to slide neatly into my vein, livid petals have emerged, spreading to cover most of the hand. The centre turned a deep angry blue red, before the dying blood seeped further under the skin, discolouring it in a fascinating and horribly compelling rainbow, changing each day. Most petals are now the brownish colour of rain-rotten roses fading into a sickly yellow at the edges. The furthest end of the mark, where the vein enters my wrist has a hint of green.
I am so tired of blood, in all its incarnations.
Black and white, white and black
In the untrimmed grass around a young tree, a black and white cat crouches, half-filling the circle around the slender trunk with fur fluffed out against the cold. Intent green eyes watch a magpie some ten yards away but the bird has turned and is unconcerned, stretching her wings and making a threatening chatter.
From the other side of the metal fence, I stand for a moment and watch. The cat seems to be poised to pounce.
“Not a chance, mate,” I say and walk on.
The cat’s eyes lose focus on the magpie and follow me as I disappear. He knows I am right; but this is only a game and all three of us know it.
Homecoming #small stone 2
Everything the same, yet joyfully unfamiliar. A few days away makes the place and the people more precious. The comforting scent of incense and freshly brewed coffee meet me as I walk in, my body tired and my mind frazzled from the last few days. Harsh memories slide away, the images of blood stains and of uniform blue bedspreads fade, and only the kindness of the nurses and the fellowship of other patients remain. I’m home.