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WORDS -- a part of, not apart from

a part of, 

To write is to make something survive, give it a sense of truth, have something bear witness to our experience.

 

It took me more than 5 years to be able to express myself coherently in written form and then it was mainly in short sentences, sometimes just a handful of words on a page were all I could manage. Being forced to communicate in confined, more rigid and limited ways, opened me up to new ways of expressing myself that I would never have thought possible. Within a few words, in a sentence or two, I found I could express more than a whole chapter could ever say. Some shorter pieces seemed to unite well with others and gave a sense of the whole when joined together; the complete picture. Similar to how a human life is made whole by the summation of its many different experiences and memories.

 

Below is a partial poetry collection of my experience of suddenly having to live with an acquired brain injury and ongoing health deterioration. They explore isolation and the meaning of identity, how life is the genesis of death, journeying into the wonders of what the brain and body are capable of, innate resilience finding creative ways to survive through adapting and connecting with the invisible, the relationships and connections I formed with my environment, inanimate objects, memories and my history and more importantly, the relationships I formed with my whole self - body, mind, soul, down to the cells, bacteria and neurons and ancestors. Discovering i am a part of, when seemingly apart from.

 

the soul of my feet

From these feet, attached to my ankles, I gently, firmly, spread the toes and imagine I can feel the coolness of the mdf wood beneath. Once upon a time, these feet took me across mountains, travailed through woods, marathoned along coasts, discovered cities, surfed the sea, and danced to the beat /

                                                                                                                                                of my heart.

 

These tools we humans have to learn to use; to run and hide, to hunt and survive, before we learnt to form words and write, once upon a time. The ground

                             (can it be ground when I’m 15 floors up?)

ready to support my form as it has too many thousands of times to count before,

but will my brain navigate and not let me fall?

 

These feet, read terrain and create maps my brain cannot. These feet that once held me balanced, tall, upright.

If the ground wasn’t there, where would I go?

 

I sway, muscles tremble, knees hint at a buckle, time slows down with each step, time no longer the essence,

there is movement in the stillness of every detail: enhanced, embodied, trying not to forget, not to fall, to see, to hear, to feel; all the things that are connected, and which of me is not.

Discovering. Uncovering. What is what.

Frequencies ultimately that these eyes, ears (the outer parts of this brain, are they not?), each nerve, skin, this formed energetic web: inside perception percolates the outside into a meaning, a form,

gives shape,

a conclusion of sorts.

 

Each step so small yet so vast, across lands imagined: signals travelling, slowly,

maybe quickly,

finding their way, through the familiar and not,

up and down, through and around, creating a new topography, from the sole to the brain,

a new adventure this beam of energy is on.

 

Ever changing by the second, perceptions and reality: the walls that keep me imprisoned also keep me upright, the door that opens only if I have the might into another world for me, the sitting room for you.

I’m 15 floors up when I fall down.

 

Plants new found friends. Ornaments witness to my new found form/ing. The bed, once to sleep on, becomes the reliable island that comforts me in this dizzyingly new world and the blankets / my only embrace.

 

Me. My body. My breath. My imagination. These are my world, my home. And when one fails me, the others still shelter and hold me tight. But for how long?

 

Longing.

 

To belong.

 

There was always value and meaning in the everyday, every day, the everything and thing for me, and now, even more. The sound of the wind and rain, the letter box snapping shut, the thud of the post on the mat, the words that come out of my mouth, each thought (and each thought remembered!), the edge of the table, that bloody door, the coffee cup, the tears, the hair on my pillow,

the siren, the echoes of a fight outside the pub, the beep of the lift being called and the shutting of a neighbour’s door, have become everything, every thing the everyday, every day for me. The value: the meaning that I am alive and have substance in a world that doesn’t know my meaning or that I exist. I am no longer the friend you confide in, the lover you laugh with, the colleague you create with, the neighbour to say good morning to, the stranger rushing past in the street.

 

Thought:  do I exist if no one witnesses my existence? As the days become dark and the nights become light/

in my shadow,

the world will go on.

 

I lie still to remember, the things the spin of world and speed of sound make me forget. 1+1 =2, the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone, making sense of symbols that I’m told have meaning, words. But ultimately the body, this body, my cells, knows everything the I does not. A wisdom that can only be heard in the depths of silence, in complete darkness seen, in forgetting, in giving myself whole, I remember that which the I learnt not.

 

I become the participant and the observer in the same breath. The winner through loss. I celebrate as I grieve. What a textured and colourful existence this is, I think.

 

The journey becomes more important than the destination: can I get to the bathroom without being on all fours, walking into the wall, falling onto the door?

How do I see through it all and you see not?

 

My feet now hold me balanced and upright, I can wobble all I want, onwards I go.

 

I may not tip your toe or stand on one of you. I fall and sprain when I try to touch your toes. I stick needles in to help you remember to feel. It hurts. To walk. To fall. To sprain and strain. It hurts to fall up steps and walk at full speed into objects my brain sees not.

 

But onwards I go.

 

Walking so perilous for me, one step to the next, if I don’t take the other, down I will go.

 

And onwards I go.

I desire this night not to break into day...

oh how I find myself when I lose myself

as the moon and I stare

into one another's eyes

 

 

 

 

read background to the piece here

A grey day

for what should have been a grey mood;

the mist arrives suddenly, gently, heavenly held;

the invisible becomes visible;

the clouds are revealing a spell.

 

I walk forth, up-stretched hand, a gentle twist of the wrist

greets the mist as it rests upon my shoulders,

a cloak of comfort in every breath;

embracing it, embracing me.

I could have danced all day (dad)

 

In the kitchen you prepared one of the big-little ways

you curated your feelings towards me:

a hearty meal of love and neediness and longing and fear and regret and sorrow and perhaps,

an apology.

 

The air heavy with onions sizzling in their glory

as I came and took your hand

and asked ‘will you have this dance with me?’

You giggled at my romance, and we were in our glory.

 

With your arm safe against my back

you held my hand softly.

 

Your skin smelt of Kouros (or was it Aramis? Davidoff perhaps,

to me it was all three)

your breath of stale cigar,

as we jigged and elegantly danced

to the sounds of your records.

My father dying in 2014 provided me with my first opportunity to experience the grief that comes from losing a parent and someone I was connected to on a deep, cellular, spiritual and relational level. I had lost people before: a best friend, grandparents, aunts and young cousins but this was a different level of grief. In it, I found a grief that was full of colour, a kaleidoscope of colours that grief and the processes of mourning comes in. And it had so many textures too. I remember how freeing it felt: free from fear. By that I mean that for the first time in my life, I had nothing to lose, the worst had already happened. He was dead. I was freed from the fear that is usually attached to most human experiences of loss and grief and what was left behind was a rich tapestry of human feelings. It was a long process: from the first birthday and Christmas without him, hearing a song that was ours, picking up the phone daily for many months, even some years later, to call him wanting to share an idea or some news with him. I remember thinking during that period how human I felt for the very first time in my life. I'd suddenly be floored, physically brought to my knees, howling with animal like sounds at the sudden pain of the separation from my father, be blinded with so many memories of our time together, realised the missed opportunities, saddened by the struggles he had faced, acknowledged the obstacles we navigated together and saddened by the regrets that marred our relationship. I both laughed and cried at the memories of me putting on his favourite opera and taking his hand to dance as he cooked for me one of his amazing meals (he was always a great cook but in his later years he experimented with cooking as a way to fill his largely isolated life). I ached to hold his hand again as we had when we shopped together in the supermarket. I missed him making me so embarrassed as he pretended to strangers that I was his girlfriend. I missed all the things we both left unsaid. And yet I knew inside of me we were still connected, after all, as he repeatedly said in his later years and on his death bed: I am half him. He lived on within me. In my DNA, in my behaviours, in my views of my self and the world and in my memories. This piece is written in rememberence of my father, during a process to help me remember my life.

silence

Oh silence,

 

your quietude so humble, your beauty such grace,

many try to imitate, for nought.

 

Oh silence,

 

my nerve endings alight in your embrace;

the quietude you wrap me in; I seek you out in crowds;

and yearn for you

alone.

Oh silence,

 

your perfumed subtle essence, arises a pulse in me.

I hear your murmur /

I cease to exist /

without you near.

 

 

Silence.

The        of all that is;

frequencies so subtle,

the story teller of creation,

what has been,

what is /

yet to come.

what is
love?

Is love simply the collective actions one takes towards another;

an expression of one’s own self,

along with the resulting feelings of taking those actions (feelings of fulfilment, peace,

contentment, joy, satisfaction and so on, oh and for the few: self respect of living by one’s

integrity towards one’s self and by default, another)?

 

You provide me with the space and holding to let me love

(remember: love is actions) you.

You allow me to love

and ultimately:

to live in my integrity; to be me in action.

And through this allowing, you are taking actions of love

towards me.

And so,

 

me loving you is not the feeling I create from what I take from you,

it is all of what I am when I give to you

a gentle wave lapping onto this rock of us, a strong undercurrent holding steady,

Love then, in all its glory;

tides that come and go, eroding not us but smoothing what we were,

exposing what we are

and

shaping what we will be.

love then:

silent screaming

In silent scream

the echo answers back

In the silent echo I hear the answers

Wednesday morning thoughts

It’s hard to shake off other people.                 Are we ever truly alone? 

Ancestral history with their desires and experiences. Our DNA. Memories. Scars. They dwell inside of us.

 

Strangers in a cafe, laughing, reading, together, alone. Smart, loved, successful.  A hand well-dealt.

Why am I not that person?            What did they want in life that they didn’t get?

I feel them: their lives, dreams, failures, trauma,

                   what they call home. I become them, but I am not them.                Why?

 

A sudden remembrance of childhood memories of watching old people crossing the street and me each time overcome with tears full of their pain, a lifetime of,

now left alone to cross the zebra crossing, hunched, slow.      Where is there left to go?

 

The streets I walked down five, ten or thirty years ago, still having an affect on me now. Lefkas high street, for example, I am still that enigmatic teenager, laughing along with long gone friends, the flirty winks still give me a shy giggle, the smell of souvlaki in the air, the sound of the easter fire crackers popping at our feet...

                                         We are a sum of so many things/ 

                                                                                 How does my brain contain so many influential memories?

Perceptions deceive.

Give attention to the tool of perception that will deceive you.

Can you be deceived if you always forget?

I consider the life of a bench, for the life-times shared with its own.

Then the lives lived in a high rise, how are they deemed any different (and by some, considered less than) to those in the million pound home next door? Do we not shit, eat, sleep, cry, laugh and love the same?                     I’m not so sure anymore.

My experience of place has changed since becoming sick. No longer wandering freely as before. More fixed. More restricted. More survival and necessity. The physical world has imprisoned me, yet my mind expands even more; the universe cannot contain the wondering me.

breath, or the illusion that everything is inevitable, your present is history and the future will exist eternally

 

 

and be after me

 

 

 

of what is yet to come

 

 

 

past already, moment this in be will what

 

 

 

existencemybeforebeenhaswhatofcontinuationA

an ode to death

I give my self to you.

All of me. To all of you.

It cannot be any other way.

I am you and you are me, my breath, my heartbeat, my energy.

 

In wonder, I wandered down a road

of the knowingly unknown.

 

Excited to be here for the journey of/

what will greet me at the ‘end’/

pondering/

will you reveal yourself then?

 

3 decades, 3 years, 3 months, 3 days, 3 beats

til we meet?… Will we greet with

a polite hello, as old friends or life time companions who have walked side by side?

Imagine / when I realise you’re my other half!

 

Oh I know you have visited time and time before.

Is it now to even up a score? Do you see me as friend or foe?

There is no winning to be had,

for me  nothing to concede.

 

(Reads like an ode to love, to an other, right?

In some ways, reader, you are so right, for this, my friend (or foe), is an ode to death, the concept manmade into a threat, to define that which is a knowing, deep inside, that / which few men can abide with arms open wide…death which exists in passing,

a blink,

the mist of a winter morning’s breath,

in the beat of, in the heat of.)

 

You have been here from the moment I was energy and light, conceived from a twinkle in an eye.

They say you are to be feared, best avoided, the end of, the beginning of,

oh my dearest, surest friend, so misunderstood. Aren’t we all? Even you,

unable to escape man’s egolusional quest to destroy the beautiful through a manufactured fearlusion.

 

You: the first cell, the last full stop, you are everything between and everything is you. You are the sun

and the moon,

the breaking light

as the dark bids goodnight,

the beginning of all that is and all that will be,

you: contrived, mislabelled,

so misunderstood.

 

As is the way with men, they have clothed you in many guises

a concept to base wars on,

a mother’s lullaby,

the shiny needle of stopping time,

time and time again.

The bling of comfort,

a thousand likes,

cancel the truth,

block their views.

Meta over mind, because the meta matters.

Slave to a system

to keep each of us fighting over, running from,

of which there is no end, other than to keep us too weary to comprehend, that you,

my misused and abused friend,

you are the trusted shepherd guiding stardust to the next delight, and

not meaning to offend,

to take from your bad guy image that you have lived by,

you are just a concept, you do not exist alone, apart from, as darkness and bad,

there is no you and us, we are not split;

I walk with you, hand held tight, in my heart, just as you like (or maybe not).

 

Oh what an adventure this will be. 

keepsakes

Ever go through that box of keepsakes and things seem so unfamiliar, a memory not yours,

that you wonder ‘who is the stranger who counterfeited my life?’

          and then

‘or is the me now the counterfeit?’

the wall - in isolation

I hug you

stretching      my body                       wide

Opening to you

Feeling your hardness against my ribs, my hips pushing onto you harder

                                                                                                                         tells me I’m alive

My fingers grasp to know the texture of you

                                                                                    To be you

You being here

with me

Your coolness comforts

                                           Your steadiness anchors

 

My cheek

                      pressing

 

       wanting

                                                                   to become one

 

Touch 

                               with

         an other

IMG_3783_edited.jpg

your body imprinted onto mine

 

                                             even after all this time

Breathing in to observe, to see, what would unfold,

what an adventure, what a treat/

to breathe out /

into each moment, relaxed, nothing gripping or griping

 

Breathing in to me falling, watching me forget, breathing out as I walk around

with soap suds in my hair / unbeknown to me, watching me not understand how to make tea, breathing in standing still in aisle number 5 without a care as I stare: entranced by the trance I'm in, giving myself time to gaze,

breathing out/ hours and days for months at a time at shapes that form to a collectively agreed meaning, at walls and ceilings in darkness and in light, on pages at symbols that form sounds to become words we believe in, breathing in

on my back mostly there is no fight, just slow, slow; there is no past or future, just

the very now,

now

Breathing out

 

What freedom there is here, what silence,

what beauty and details of things so otherwise missed

All these little nooks and crannies

of me. Unwitnessed before,

brand new

yet always possessed             the atoms of me,

the light and that which is so, so much more       How everyday,

the every day of 41years rushed me / past, not even a blur, it was so fast

Yesterday, tomorrow, no longer a thought,

what a treat this wander has led me on

 

the wonder of me…

 

Walking in my inner landscape, each time anew, most unknown, I walk myself through pain and terror, a foreign revolt on the soil of me. I walk in protest, I lead a revolution and arrive in revelation. I walk myself alone. I walk myself with nothing and yet somehow possess all I need. I walk myself past death's door, and time again. I walk with hypothermia, finding warmth & comfort in the danger I meet. I walk despite of pain and numbness. I walk in my own stench and forgetfulness. I walk myself through fear, abandonment, heart ache and grief, amused. I remember nothing of the road before yet I know where I began and have no care of where I end, observing it all is my all. With my eyes shut tight, I see more clearly than before. I walk myself back to health, through unfamiliar lands. I hike the deepest oceans and arrive at crossroads where there is no right and wrong. I walk myself through time, and know that does not exist. I walk as an observer in the stillness of the breath. I walk as a part of, in spite of being apart from. I walk myself to moving that which cannot move, to feeling that which cannot feel. I walk myself to new ideas as a remembrance of old. I walk myself to bliss and peace and remember how to shed a tear. I walk myself to move and I am moved. I walk to my magnificence, transform every cell; molecule by molecule, change the DNA of me, I walk myself asleep and wake in other realms. I walk myself through forests and bathe under a canopy of stars. I walk myself with wonder at what I see before me. I walk myself to a me I did not know before. I walk with my ancestors and hear their tales of dreams and heartache, hopes of the unfulfilled, the yet unresolved that fire up the life in me. I walk myself and meet sages sharing wisdom along the way. I walk myself to god and to the glorious space beyond. I walk myself to my self. I walk forwards, back to my heart. I walk myself to love, in love. I end where I began. This pilgrimage of me. I walk.

i am pilgrim

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