The Grandmother

she doesn’t know what happened to the life she planned and hoped for

but somewhere on the route she lost her way

somewhere, over time, years voided girlhood and her reasons

while she watched and waited for those better days

those halcyon of yore that she was promised

by the fairy tales she’d heard and read, imbibed

where the prince is true and saves deserving maiden

and the perfect ending meets the perfect bride

instead she is the tarnished, disillusioned

more imprisoned now than then and saviours few

passed her way or loitered with intention

she was trapped inside and still the briars grew

confined inside a castle of contention

sojourner in a land that sees unveiled

every yarn that once began with once upon

nullifying happy ever after tales

a cinderella always, now grandmother

no fairy guardian to relieve the mess

pumpkins flourished, rats were rats and lizards reclined

there was no transformation, no new dress

surrogate to another willing victim

still the stories spun like threaded silk to bind

while she wondered what had happened, where salvation

where relief for careworn, worried mind

she fretted now and quite forgot to hope for

a future since her past had cast its spell

as she meditated where had all that time gone

then promises no more fables will she tell

she’ll let the child run ragged, even barefoot

oblivious to vows and promises that fail

she’s the mother of the son of errant daughter

and the child, though wild, is carefree, this tale tells

Not Nearly Ready

you’re ready

I’m not ready

and I don’t know

when or if I’ll ever be

the seconds

they are racing

I can’t stop them

and they’re squeezing

all the lifeblood

out of me

you’re ready

and you’re willing

I’m not either

but the time

keeps ticking on

till I can’t see

ready, steady

please don’t go

just stay here

while I practise

letting go

to set you free

You’re Younger Yet

you’re younger yet and life holds full its promise

and I would not deny you all its claims

nor ever harness hopes or all that they hold

nor ever seek to squash the fire that calls your name

 

and I would not withhold from you each wishbone

that comes your way, upon which you may dream

nor burden you with harsher truths that years taught

I’d never blot the landscape of young life or all it seems

 

I have no aspirations to encumber the joy you know

for I, too, once believed the dreams you cherish and you hold

I once believed that all I sought was there for ripest taking

if I were, like you, courageous and so bold

 

I’d never take away your youth nor hope diminish 

by word or deed, the dreams we share, though altered, still unchanged

I cannot be the one who says the no to

life’s expansion, growth, by any name

 

life takes on a new form and I’d never challenge spirit

younger years, exuberance that dares

I’d only caution prudence, observation

as you climb the unknown, always have a care

 

as you go along the ridges, meet the strangers

hold within some doubt, please think of this

that somewhere, on the dark of all horizons

is the love that once betrayed with tender kiss

 

you’re younger yet and, out there, there are traitors

beware but still believe that life is fine

I’m older, always here if you’re discouraged

one flight away, one thought to keep in mind

Blessing All Quantities

signpost cbmc

(source)

I count their blessings

less defined than mine

I count theirs first

that fear in all unknowing

going onwards

disappointed innocence

that’s the worst

All signs in prospect 

so elusive 

unknown quantities 

hazards blind 

I steer, advise them 

watch and catch them 

pointing once again 

in hopes they find

Their own distinct paths

though all roads trodden

worn before by others

new to them 

I count their blessings

give directions

then stand aside

to let them learn

They’re going forwards 

I’ve been there, done that

racing eagerly

all steps a risk 

I count their blessings 

embrace them as mine

one to seven growing

on my list

No Confidence Invoked

How would you have me tell these children

How to prep for life yet preserve youth

Should I tell them all the ways we love each other

Or reveal the awful with each truth

 

Should I tell them of the Flanders Field still growing

Gift them euphemisms for the cause

Sublimate the knowing, temper answers

Opt out with some version, ‘just because’

 

Should I tell them that, for all our evolution,

We haven’t found a way yet to exist

That sometimes there will be betrayal from a lover

Served with honey and a tender kiss

 

Shall I tell them that adults are a throwback

Dinosaurs that still believe in myths

Legends, including every dragon

Will they trust us still when knowing all of this

 

Will children, with their foresight and their fairness

Decree no confidence, invoke that law

Every right they would have, let’s start over,

I’ve seen it, just repeating what foresaw

 

 

Well Met

met her on the mountains

wind nettled in her hair

red brushed through by finger’d draughts

her presence barely there

a wisp of lass, no more than ten

her breath a breeze in flight

cat-eyed maiden stole alone

cut swathes in misted night

passed through me in search of home

thought between we two

hurry back and mind your step

and sleep the whole night through

but stay an eye for feral beasts

keep one true for wild

a third you’ll need for pleasant folk

a fourth to save each child

fifth may penetrate the dark

and sixth shall make it clear

rest, be thankful but remain

alert, of list’ning ear,

met her on the mountains

outfoxed chill around

heard her hist’ry in my heart

her words in silent sound

met her once but ne’er forgot

each puzzled piece she told

maid of ten, or so I thought,

a child too soon grown old

wisdom of the ages

in the figure of a lass

red-haired, nettled, draughted, dead

met her in the Pass

Nature’s Kitchen

She seared the pan with juices born of struggle Flavoured it with flesh trimmed from her breast
Stirred the mix and waited till it bubbled
Then slowly added in all of the rest

A little bit of jealousy and temper     A smidgen of the time when words went wrong
Peppered it with points of view disparate
And, while it simmered, Mother sang the self-same song

Some differences to test the truth of loving   Let’s give them colour, creed and poverty
I’ll add a touch of sexual persuasion
Ugliness and beauty that some see

Throw in power and grace and favour Some grievances that keep the cauldron hot
Maybe just a little deviation
Bugger it, I’ll throw in the whole lot

She cackled and she laughed with mirth and struggled
This shouldn’t be so much fun, was what she thought
I ought to love them more than what I’m showing
I’d better put compassion in the pot

Bugger me, she thought, when elbow hit pan
Too much, too little, I may never know
Sod it, now it’s in, I’ll wait and wonder
Some virtual reality for show

I’ll dish it up and dine with them and challenge
From what I’ve seen they like that quite the best
Quizzes, feats of fortune with some bloodlust
My children seem to like being put to test

Oh shit, I nearly left out loving kindness
A mother ought to give that, even some
I’ve given it before and they rejected
But still, I think I should, I’m almost done

I’ll sit out here while pot’s on simmer
I’ll think about these children, ingrates all
Gave them all I had and were they thankful
Not nearly quite enough, and some, not quite at all

The sun set while the mother prayed some
Evil wasn’t part of recipe
But if that’s what they wanted for their dinner
She guessed she had to serve it before tea

para nuestros ninos – For Our Children

 

 

it begins

 

 

slowly

 

 

his fingers

by voice

caressing

 

on repeat

 

one song

threading my hair

with warm honey

 

poured

by ohm

 

a balm

 

blessed

poesy

in song

 

words

carved

 

 

left

for our children

 

para nuestros ninos

por amor

 

 

 

Household Tips #2

Not quite household. Unless your household includes kids. Kids who are going to their first music festival.

Certainly disrupts the household, so I’m including it here.

It’s now after 2a.m.

All kids of various ages are in their beds. Hubs has been in his for hours. Gotta work, gotta sleep.

Me. I’m sitting with the last glass of a bottle of red wine wondering how in the hell I’m still sane.

Tomorrow, at early o’clock, child number five heads off for five days, four nights of a musical extravaganza known as T in The Park. Known as this because  it once – many moons ago – took place in a park not too many miles from here and was sponsored by Tennents lager.

Now.

Now it has had so many changes of venue to accommodate the ever increasing number of young ones wishing to embrace their feeedom that no park can hold them. This year it’s T in Strathallan. I don’t know where exactly that is either so no sweat on your part.

Where it is doesn’t perturb me. What it is leaves me shivering somewhat.

Thousands of young people dying to embrace their inner hippy will converge on a swamp, in a tent, with alcohol, a few basic essentials. And sing and dance.

I’m good with the last two.

Basic, also, I can do.

But.

Seventeen,  on their comparitive lonesome, at a venue ideal for every criminal recidivist known, not so hot with.

Any evidence of that? None to speak of.

But imagination. Plenty of.

My answer.

Lots of food.

Lots and lots of snacks and protein shakes and bagels and all sorts of shit guaranteed to sop up any and all amounts of alcohol.

She’s a good girl. She’s a sensible girl. But she’s seventeen.

And I have to keep reminding myself of being seventeen. Honestly. And with some credence for common sense.

Her baggage has more food than alcohol. I’m resisting the temptation to go and remove all traces of the offending liquid with a love note in its place saying, ‘Mum was here. Love you.’

But I haven’t. And I trust her.

It’s every other bastard under the sun I don’t trust.

I have closed my ears almost, and now nearly my eyes, to some of the stories, only this evening, being recounted to me by older kids laughing at the fun ahead.

I daren’t think. I don’t want to know.

Tomorrow, in about five hours, I’ll kiss her goodbye. On her return, all being well, and previous experience (plus now current knowledge) in place, I’ll be glad to see her home safe and sound. And I’ll listen to all her adventures. Even knowing they are, undoubtedly, censored.

I must have been a nightmare for my mum. Belated apologies, Mum. Hope you can hear me from here to heaven.

P.S. Does a big bag of Haribo count as food?

PPS. Why is seventeen that liminal age? Sweets or/and booze? Babe or woman? Don’t anyone say the two are synonymous. This might be my fifth time around but it doesn’t get any easier.