When I was just
a little girl
My mother showed me how to
I could live like Alice does
in a wonderland.
At the time we drew them blooming from the earth
Knees dusted in dirt
All I could hear were their howls and screams.
As a woman
thinking on how I am plucked and tugged and wrenched and dislocated
I pat the soil around my babies and promise they will
come to full term
and, when the wind threatens to carry them away,
and knit themselves into crusts and crevices
for you to wonder at
when you are screaming.
Cackling and snortling the arrival of another day
as if to say
You’ve got to do it again you poor fuckers’.
In his laugh the promise of a scorcher
An ear drum and nasal cavity of insects
And a crusted, headlong, headstrong bitumen to navigate.
I don’t know where he pisses off to for the rest of the day
But he sure as hell doesn’t chortle when he’s in the thick of it either.
We will crack peppercorns and rub them into our neck for perfume.
When we come to the corner where the stargazer lily edges over the fence
I will say ‘Lean in.
At the point you wobble
We will marvel at the tiny pebbles etched into your knee…
Until the sound of spokes and wheels meet your ears and I witness your ache for age to arrive
For when can you too pedal and glide?
As your body begins to weigh upon mine with the stories you’ve collected this, one day
Your hands will collect the back of my head so you can meet my gleam.
‘How is it…’
we will say
‘…all of this
“Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons you must leave. Because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready.” Nayyirah Waheed.
I was reminded of this talking to a friend yesterday.
This poem doesn’t need to come with a brittle ‘fuck off’ or a hazardous ‘swipe left’. A defiant and throw away ‘you go girlfriend / boyfriend’.
Though the way in which someones ‘not readiness’ can be exorcised in a way that causes great damage to self and other, one can find equal parts compassion for the person who isn’t ready.
BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING this poem for me communicates a need for SELF LOVE out there on the bridge.
Maya Angelou’s poem ‘I shall not be moved’ also suggests such a thing. Know what you want and do not be moved. Know what you are worth and do not be moved.
It is not about looking for something perfect ‘because you deserve it’.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT. WE ALL EXIST IN GREY ZONES.
But at the very least, having someone meet you with a joyous YES. Not having to ASK someone to meet you on the bridge, because, though asking suggests a vulnerability which is beautiful, it is crippling to have to ask someone to meet you there.
Do not be moved in self love… say
‘I am something to meet out here on this bridge and I think you are something to meet here too’.
I want to own beautiful things.
A hardwood floor
to sprawl about in summer.
that peaks on vinyl
that animates the air
before it has been seen.
I want to reside as a dangling bra strap on your shoulder
My eyes to default to the furrowed creases between brow and bristles at your moment of O
My mouth to savour the bare breaths
when you part
I want every pen indentation
to arrest with intonation
that mornings lathering of soap
The groan you couldn’t help
And that era when my name
sounded like love.
I don’t want
to see the lakes surface quivering above her privates
damp clumps of moss mat beneath my bare arse
And to curl
as they drop
in the air.
* if you ever need help, dial 000. Don’t be a victim for too long. Stand tall. It’s unfair but it’s not your stuff. Speak up. Say no. Call people out on their behaviour. With empathy , of course, know people hold within them their own darkness. But that darkness should never be inflicted on someone else. I urge everyone to sort out their own shit so we don’t inflict it on other people.