I think I built you, formed you and designed you, drew you with green sharpie and the bricks of my pillow fort, sculpted you from cheap coffee and H&M basics, moulded you from a year’s worth of lazy Wednesday mornings, desperate for something to be mine.
On nights like this I press my back up against the wall. I let the edges of my bed indent my skin, the space is too small for my limbs and your nightmares.
If you’d let me, we’d stay up all night, and I’d paint galaxies on the back of your hands to remind you how inferior nightmares are. But I cannot wake you or make the swirls in your breath go away, so I shrink further back, I give you space. There is nothing I can do to make it better.
Instead, I place soft fingers on your back and write bright letters on the dark ceiling, for you to see in a dream. I turn to the moon for spelling and to the stars for punctuation, and wait for morning in silence.
The sound of family that haven’t seen each other for too long fills the living room. Bright smiles, Christmas socks and the smell of gingerbread cookies in the oven. Gingerbread dough is snuck into mischievous mouths, tongues stuck out at whoever dares point it out – quick fingers coated in flour and butter, sticky but sweet tasting, just how these December days are supposed to be. It’s the annual family gingerbread day, where we bake enough cookies to carry us through the winter; when the house smells like cinnamon and cloves and ginger and dark, shining syrup; when the stereo churns out Christmas song after Christmas song, every single one linked to a memory, a party, an evening or just a moment.
Worries about presents and that last exam are gone as the third musician of the night sings songs about chestnuts and fires and Jack Frost nipping at noses.
These Christmas traditions are things we all share. The Christmas Crazy that sets in every December 1st and makes young and old suddenly crave satsumas and mulled wine and all the other things you never even think about during the other eleven months of the year. The Christmas Crazy that sometimes leaves you running about endless shopping centres, but just as often reminds you to sit quietly by the window to listen to the whispers of snow gently falling.
Eleven people are gathered around the table, cups of coffee and tea are lining the window sills. The table isn’t for coffee cups, the table is for working. There shouldn’t be enough room for everyone to roll out their dough, to stamp out gingerbread angels and stars, but there always is. Around this table, there is room to grow, there is space for everyone. An evening like this one gathers us all, and around this table there is room for quirks, for habits and traditions, for the weird and for the wonderful, for emotions, for the happy.
We sing along, we dot our noses with flour. We taste the cookie dough and revel in the smell wafting from the oven. Everyone’s hard at work, and like every year, Christmas comes running when we invite it in.
Like every year, the magic of the Ginger Bread ensures that the Christmas fairytale stops by our house too. Like every year, the Christmas Crazy ensures that Christmas hangs up its coat and takes off its shoes, and makes itself proper at home.
Sometimes I feel like there is this notion that poetry has to be gritty to be good, that poems have to make you cry to be worth something. I agree that poetry is a wonderful platform to rebel, to be angry and to talk about stuff it feels like you can’t talk about anywhere else. Poetry is honest, it’s raw and it’s unmasked. But it’s also cosy and safe and comfortable. Poetry can just as well leave you feeling all warm inside, it’s just as valid when a poem makes you smile, makes you giggle, makes you let out that breath you’ve been holding for a little too long.
Poetry belongs where we’re feeling safe, it belongs before bedtime on a Monday, and tucked in under a blanket, hot chocolate in hand on a Sunday morning.
Welcome to my bed; welcome to floral bedsheets, a baggy pyjama t-shirt, my face with no makeup on. Have a poem I wrote a little over two years ago, a poem about all the wonderful tomorrows we hope will be granted us one day. Let’s all be so lucky.
I’ll let the video speak for itself, and if you want to read the poem before, after or while listening, here’s the written version.
~ my tiny house in this new city ~ my finished degree ~ the degree I’m working on at the moment ~ learning languages ~ postcards ~ holding hands ~ anything blue ~ wordless books ~ old notebooks ~ the little curiosity robot on March ~ scented candles ~ tiny ear piercings ~ orange leaves ~ home cooked meals ~ the Hamilton Soundtrack ~ planning trips and journeys ~ successful study groups ~ facetiming the people I miss ~ feeling acquaintances become friends ~ big chunky “disappear into the world of this story for the next four hours” books ~ books in general ~ jazz music ~ big blankets ~ fresh bed sheets ~ milk chocolate ~ the smell of laundry detergent ~ daisies ~ strawberry tea ~ Christmas lights ~ Christmas markets ~ theatre tickets ~ the sound of the orchestra tuning their instruments before a concert ~ cinema dates ~ the smell of ground coffee beans ~ lazy mornings ~ rain ~ bagels for breakfast ~ spaghetti carbonara ~ the plants I got for this house and have managed to keep alive for the better part of three months ~ stationery ~ whipped cream ~ coffee dates ~ when a film plot really surprises me ~ sleeping with the window open ~ crocheting ~ cuddles ~ quiet playlist ~ spontaneous dancing on the kitchen floor ~ fairy lights ~ people smiling ~ musical theatre ~ spoken word poetry ~ learning new things ~
and when we’re fifty-three
we’ll have a house with a sea view and a stove top kettle.
There’ll be a cat called Steve
and you’ll put on red slippers to fetch the newspaper.
I don’t know where we’ll be,
Portreath, Marrakech, Porto,
all I know is that I’ll race you to the cupboard every morning
and you’ll hide my glasses every evening, we’ll make every day a game.
And when we’re sixty-two
we’ll sleep naked like starfish in the middle of the bed
and your heavy hands will follow my wrinkles,
trace the stories in my worn thin skin.
For the one million and thirteenth time,
I’ll stroke your balding head,
and go in for a kiss
but lick your nose
And when we’re seventy-four
I’ll smack your butt in the kitchen,
as you take out the turkey,
and our daughter of forty-three will sigh and tell us get a room,
so we’ll sneak away to the pantry,
and steal kisses by the roast potatoes.
And when we’re eighty-one
I’ll ask you if you love me
and you’ll say nah, you’re just handy to keep around,
so I’ll stick my tongue out at you,
and you’ll put your hand in mine,
that space that’s made
just for you.
(An edited version of an old poem, picture from Pixabay)
Tea stain scars run down my thigh,
and the new skin growing
feels soft under my hands.
He has never touched this skin,
never let his fingers linger over it,
or kissed it with seafoam lips.
It’s like a teacup in my lap was what I needed,
to discard him,
grow out of him,
to make me see that the spot he used to rest his hands on,
This picture’s not mine, but it can be found here, and for more poems, both text and video, click here!