Lilacs for Lucy
Lilacs for Lucy
Blooming so delicately
Nanna didn’t want flowers
Who wants flowers
When you can have a whole tree?
A bouquet may be lovely
But as soon as its cut – it’s dying
A tree is the opposite
Part of creation, thriving
So it’s Lilacs for Lucy
It’s a tree for my Nanna
A tree for your Mum
A tree for your Friend
A tree for your Great Grandmother
When I think of Nanna
I picture a garden home
Messy, rambling, beautiful
Where veggies are planted next to flowers
And where wild nasturtiums roam
Green through and through
From her thumbs to her toes
Like a Hobbit from Derbyshire
It seemed to me
Things grow wherever Nanna goes
Walking in her garden I hear a canary whistle
Then break into trilling song
I hear the soft shuffle of quails
And the flutter of finches
Chirping and dancing along
I see Nanna sitting by a fire
Lost in knit and pearl
Her needles click clacking away
She’s making warm woollen socks
For some lucky little girl
Other times I see her wearing black rimmed glasses
Engrossed in a riveting tale
A cup of tea poured
But then forgotten
Growing cold on the table
Will I see Nanna again?
Sitting peaceful by her fire once more?
Yes, I know I will
But in the meantime I have my memories
And the stories passed down from days of yore
(Ok, so maybe I exaggerate
They’re not exactly days of Yore
More like days of yesteryear.
No? Still insulting? Ok, sorry. I’ll be more specific:
The days of Mom, Uncle Tom, Uncle Mike and Uncle George
I remember being fascinated by Nanna’s teapots
She collected so many over the decades
She set them out amongst a myriad other memorabilia
Those dusty shelves crowded
In a wrong, but somehow so right, random, bohemian display
I remember brown boxes of Cadbury Chocolate
Factory cast offs Nanna had bought
I remember those jars of colourful Boiled Sweets
Those packets of English Toffees
And those bags of Liquorice All Sorts
It was Nanna who introduced me to the art of shopping
She took me to “vintage” stores galore
While Nanna searched for second hand trinkets
I discovered clothes and shoes and hats
Eclectic styles from years past, to mix and match, and explore
I close my eyes and hear Nanna’s soft English accent
It coloured every word she would say
Her kind and mild way of speaking
“Dook” she would call me
In that unique Derbyshire way
I remember constantly asking Nanna: “How old are you?”
And to my consternation and grief
She’d always reply with a twinkle:
“I’m as old as my tongue
And a little bit older than my teeth”
But there were times that Nanna was not so gentle
Like when she had pruning shears in hand
I remember her ruthlessly attacking
A defenceless bush in our front yard
Hacking away until only a stump was left to stand
Then there was the way she played scrabble
How competitive she would get!
Like she’d swallowed a dictionary
She’d thrash you soundly on triple word scores
And then off she’d go to bed
I remember Mom once laughed relating
About the time Nanna had a hankering to buy some Llamas
“You have a big back yard Jean” she said “there’s plenty of room”
I don’t know why Mom said no, it really could’ve been a thing
Lucy and Jean – Kingston’s suburban Llama farmers
Then there was the time Nanna got her ears pierced
Long dangly hooked earrings and all!
I remember being so impressed
Whoever had such a Nanna?
It was just way too cool!
There are so many memories:
Nanna’s false teeth grossing me out, sitting in a glass
How she called Mick “Mickey” on the first day they met
Her gentle smile, her hair when it was black
Nanna teaching me how to play draughts
But mostly it’s a feeling I remember
No matter where I’d roam
No matter where I’d go
Nanna was the place
The place that meant home
Memories are a gift
Something no one can take away
They grow richer in the face of sorrow
They grow more precious
They become history that defeats the grave
I am grateful that I have these memories
Though right now my eyes tear and mist
I miss Nanna
And I’ll miss her for a while
For now, my Nanna’s gone to rest
But I know one day soon Nanna will awake
On that day she’ll be vibrant and strong
She’ll once again plant beautiful, messy, rambling gardens
She’ll get to be that Llama farmer
And she’ll listen as her Canary sings a happy welcoming song
I picture Nanna showing her great great great grandchildren
How to play draughts, how to prune a tree
How to knit socks, how not to suck at scrabble
And relating tales and stories
Of how life in the old world used to be
Yes, Lilacs for Lucy
Lilacs blooming so delicately
A hardy tree with a beautiful flower
That will grow and thrive
And live to eternity
25 July 2015
– See you again soon Nanna, with all my love, Rach
John 5:28,29 – Revelation:21:4 – John 11:11-44
A Survivors Tale
Sometimes I think I’m over it
I am sure I’m in repair
But then something stirs and shows me
The old wounds still fester
The old wounds are all still there
Memories slink in hidden corners
Ghost ships rising from silty graves
And it’s me they come to torture
It’s me they still enslave
You have no right! I scream
You have no right! I rage
You took your pound of flesh
Before I put flame to your sails
Before I broke free from your deep, dark cage
I fight you – still you come
I hate you – still you stay
Time after time I slay you
Why won’t you be done?
Why won’t you die where you lay?
I have my armor
I have my shield
Love is mine, mine forever
I know who I am
I know what is and isn’t real
But still you rise
Still you cut me
You pursue me like hound and hare
You take my truth and give me lies
You take my fear and gut me
I do not deserve this
I do not deserve to bleed
I was their scapegoat
They left me alone, they tied me up
They let the vultures feed
Charm and fire and whispers
Agendas and politics and pretence
Feathers caught in a whirlwind
Blown to kingdom come
Scattered to where there can be no defense
Faces of flint and backs of stone
Turned as one, turned to go
Bargains struck, deals made
Pouring oil on my burning pain
Fanning the flames of my woe
Where the balm and binding?
Where the healing hand?
Where the staff and crook?
Where the voice of reason?
Where the firm place to stand?
Nowhere the comfort and brace
Nowhere the wisdom
Nowhere the faith
Nowhere the all embracing grace
Those memories are the knives that cut
The stinging truths that make me sick
That is where the nightmares linger
Those cuts were deep
Those cuts still drip
So the Ghosts are going to win a while
Sunken ships shall rise and sail
And slinking memories will find me
Where the wounds still weep
Where I hide and shake and quail
This is my stake
This is the hammer and the nail
This is their creation
This is my story
This is what lies behind the veil
This is a survivor’s tale
“Every time I close the door on reality it comes in through the windows.”
– Jennifer Yane
“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation,
nor does truth become error because nobody sees it”
– Mahatma Gandhi
“’Now I know what a ghost is,’ he thought. ‘Unfinished business, that’s what.’ “
– Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
“Thoughts shut up want air,
And spoil, like bales unopened to the sun.”
– Edward Young, Night Thoughts
“Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him?”
– Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
“Reality bites… and doesn’t let go.” – Anon
“There is no ghost so difficult to lay as the ghost of an injury.”
– Alexander Smith
“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
– Stephen King
I didn’t realize it
Until he went away
How much I’d miss him
How much I wish he could stay
Sitting at the airport
After saying goodbye
I suddenly felt
An overwhelming urge to cry
Al had made a real effort
When times had been bad
To help me get out
To keep me from getting too sad
He bought me a bike
He took me to soccer
And I know if he hadn’t cared
He really wouldn’t have bothered
We had some issues
A few problems earlier on
But we got over those
And learnt to get along
I found Al’s sense of humor
And love of good wine
Made him the best company
When I needed to unwind
And there isn’t a more passionate
Or fanatical football fan
Playing it and watching it
Whenever he can
But I love football
So that suited me too
And Al and I
Watched a live match or two
But our taste in movies
Is a little bit different
I like a happy ending
Whereas Al likes them deep and a bit bent
But we always enjoyed it
No matter how bad the movie turned out to be
The beer afterwards really helped us forget
The crap we’d wasted ten bucks to see
So even when it was hard
When all I wanted to do was cry
We still had fun together
Al and I
I realize now
Al was as hurt as me in his own way
He just didn’t say it as much
In that typical guy way
But now we are both doing well
Seems our wounds are healing
We understand each other better
We have more fellow feeling
Al’s a good guy
He’s a great brother
And I’m really happy that we have
More appreciation for each other
So it’s kind of sad
Now things are happy and everything is ok
To be so far apart
To be so far away
But I guess missing Al
Is better than not
Because at least it shows
We’ve both grown up a lot
I will always remember
That when the chips were down
Al was there for me
And helped me turn things around
That’s what family is for
That’s what brothers and sisters do
They give and forgive
And they love (erk choke argh spit) each other too
~ for my brother and my friend, Al ~
“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers.
It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage.
Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.”
– Maya Angelou
“After a girl is grown,
Her little brother
– Now her protector –
Seems more like a big brother.”
– Astrid Alauda
Do you ever think of me,
In some secluded corner of your mind?
Or do you avoid going there,
Not wanting to examine what you’ll find?
Do you wonder about my life these days?
Do you wonder what I’m doing now?
Or is the shadow of me,
Not something you can allow?
Do you ever wonder why?
Wonder what could’ve been?
If things hadn’t happened?
If we could’ve seen?
Do you ever hear the notes of a song,
Something familiar that begins to play,
And instantly memories of me flood in,
Memories from back in the day?
Do you ever regret the things you did?
The things you didn’t say?
Do you ever regret,
That you let me walk away?
Do you ever think of me and smile?
And someone catches it and asks why?
But you just shrug and change the subject
Or make up some lie?
Are you really happy?
Is your life everything you thought it would be?
Or at the end of every day dream,
Do you still come drifting back to me?
Do you ever see my picture,
And wish you could hear my voice?
Do you ever think about what happened?
Do you regret your choice?
Do you ever see someone,
And you think for an instant that it’s me?
Does your heart skip a beat?
Do you find it hard to breathe?
Do you recall my scent?
The softness of my hair?
Do you still see the light in my eyes,
As I laid my heart bare?
Do you have me tucked away?
In that secluded corner of your mind?
The place no one else lives.
The place no one else can find.
Do you still dream of me?
Every dark, moonless, stormy night?
Do you ever wish you could take it back?
Do you ever wish you could make it right?
Do you think of the things we did together,
And wish we could have those times again?
That this time round it wouldn’t be for nothing?
That it wouldn’t be in vain?
Do you feel it now?
Somewhere way down deep?
That you should’ve done things differently?
Or do you just let sleeping dogs sleep?
Do you regret that you listened?
That you let others have such a big say?
Do you wish now you’d carried on?
Do you wish you’d carried me away?
Do you wonder if I think of you?
If I drift to you once in a while?
Do you wonder if I remember?
And if the memory makes me smile?
Do you picture me looking out some window somewhere?
Not really seeing the view.
Because in my mind I’m adrift,
Drifting in memories of you
Do you wonder if I have regrets?
Or if I’d do it all over again?
Of would I do things differently?
Would I take safety over pain?
Do you wish you could ask me?
Do you wonder if I’d understand?
Do you wonder if you lost the best version of your life?
The version that for a moment you held in your hand?
But I guess you’ll never know.
And I guess neither will I.
So we’ll always wonder,
We’ll always have a ‘why’?
There will always be that secluded corner,
That locked place in your mind.
The place you’ll always visit.
The place I’ll always find.
“One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
– Emily Dickinson, “Time and Eternity”
“We do not remember days; we remember moments.”
– Cesare Pavese, “The Burning Brand”
“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. “
– The Wonder Years
The Clanging Bell
There’s darkness in your heart tonight
You feel like giving up
You feel like giving in
You’ve forgotten why you’re struggling
Against the tide you’re in
You’ve been trying to hold on
But now all you want is to let go
Want not to have to care
For you know it really wouldn’t matter
If one day you just weren’t there
Everything is wrong
And you need to hide away
You need to disappear
Because you don’t know if you can take
Any more of the things
You’ve been forced to hear
You took all their torture
As they crushed your broken heart to pulp
But now enough is enough
You just don’t think you can bear anymore
You really aren’t that tough
One more stab from the past
One more day full of worry
One more nightmare all alone
You just can’t see anymore
Hope dies a little more
With everything you’re shown
Pain stabbing deep and hard
Throbbing numbly through your soul
There in lives heartache beyond all grief
And you know you can’t go on
You need to find some relief
They say that you’ll be fine
They tell you to keep your chin up
These things pass away in time
But what does that mean for right now?
It’s just a stupid line
They can’t understand what they can’t see
No one can see the darkness at night
Nor falling tears in the rain
That’s why they can’t fathom
The endless ocean of your pain
You thought you knew
You thought you understood
Then the picture changed
And everything you ever believed
Got all rearranged
When love is betrayed and all goodness turns to ash
You watch helplessly
As your safe world crashes and tears and rips
And everything you thought was still yours
Is blown away and disappears in tiny little bits
So take a life
And tear it up
Then sprinkle it with tears
And tell me when the nightmare ends
What grows from all your fears?
What if there is no end?
What if you can’t wake up?
What if the nightmare goes on and on?
What if there’s no way off
The horror merry-go-round you’re on?
Who will ease the gnawing ache?
Who will wake you up and hold you tight?
Who will put a stop to all the pain?
Who will take your hand and help you leap
From that careening run away train?
You know the answer
You know the truth
You know it well
All these years you thought you had love
But all you had was a clanging bell
Playing your heart three moves ahead
Words designed to deceive
You should have heard it coming
But you refused to believe
Disappeared in a day
Melted away like snow in the rain
Not made of stuff that could survive
When the avalanche came
Hiding their own guilt
Behind facades of righteousness
Binding you in their bitter angry cords
As self-righteous hypocritical tongues
Turned into stabbing swords
You couldn’t look ahead
You didn’t know it would be like that
You had no idea
Left out in the cold and the rain
Left behind with your wounds and your fear
So there you stand in a place of mourning
Your tears watering the grass beneath your feet
As you place flowers beside a stone
And you’re alone
Sorrow wrapped in bewilderment
Truth making a mockery of memory
Memories making knowledge unbearable
Nothing hurts like the cold naked truth
If only hope lent you garments that were wearable
“Hope is the feeling we have
that the feeling we have
is not permanent”
– Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook