the night we hid our childhood memories in drawers and cupboards and make believe-safes?
How we wrapped secrets and fairy tales in the blankets our five-year-old selves couldn’t sleep without.
Whispering, we gently placed them all in unforgettable treasure chambers.
Do you remember how the shoes that blinked when we walked slowly faded, greying like streets heavy with rain, as electricity bills ate all our ice cream pennies.
Our hiding places got more secret, and as we walked past them yelling Marco, they stopped replying, as deadlines and invoices and parking tickets called louder than memories ever dared.
If you do, then please let me tell you how last night I found that childhood drawer, and today I’m sat here on the floor, flicking through dusty sweet wrappers wondering whether I should give them back or not.
I almost throw them away.
Stamps are expensive and memories are heavy. I’ve learned it’s not cheap, to wrap nostalgia up in polaroid pictures and Royal Mail envelopes.
I won’t throw them away though. I don’t think I ever will.
Have a poem, with the aforementioned cliched title, filmed on my webcam complete with the noises of both my mum and dad in separate skype-meetings upstairs. I was only supposed to be home for a couple of days, but then the travel ban hit and now I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back to my uni town. Now we’re three people all trying to do our separate jobs in one house with strangely few doors and a lot of open doorways; it’s not the best solution, but we’re making do. And to be fair, I’d much rather be here right now than isolated all alone in a student flat. Take care of each other, folks.
Love in the time of Covid-19 is waving at each other from across the street is walking two meters apart is «I’ll leave your groceries on the porch, take care».
Love in the time of Covid-19 is travel bans and cancelled plans and waterfall worries and loneliness.
Love in the time of Covid-19 is creating an everyday in cramped houses is home office landscapes and nurseries in living rooms is a kettle constantly boiling in the kitchen.
Love in the time of Covid-19 is empty streets and darkened towns and school grounds void of children.
Love in the time of Covid-19 is learning to be productive in a new normal is being together by being apart is showing we care by breaking the chain.
Love in the time of Covid-19 is a team effort, a global population staying inside, a world worth of shoes left waiting by the door.
Love in the time of Covid-19 is making the best of strange days to come, strange days we won’t know how to handle strange days we never even dreamed of.
Love in the time of Covid-19 is singing together through open windows is lighting candles for people we do not know is gathering in applause in houses across the nation.
Love in the time of Covid-19 is staying inside today so others can see tomorrow it is solidarity it is compassion. it is a choice.
If there is one thing I’ve missed since moving away from Winchester, it is the budding community of writers I got to be a part of, and the many opportunities to try out your work on people. I’ve missed electric evenings at the Railway Inn, where you could try your own poetry on for size and then get lost in the words of others. I miss the monthly Poetry Platforms; the space you could perform work in progress-pieces and see how the words you were trying to convey would sit on your tongue, not just on the page.
I haven’t really found anything like that here in Kristiansand, but truth be told, maybe I haven’t looked hard enough. Monday brought a wonderful opportunity in the shape of a Poetry evening at the student union stage; a poesiaften hosted by the student society for Nordic studies.
I got back up on the stage for the first time in about a year and a half, and read two of my own pieces. One in Norwegian and this one in English.
The whole evening was wonderful. More than 50 people came in and sat down, listened closely, shared their thoughts and drank student union wine. There were so many people who wholeheartedly threw themselves into their performances, the atmosphere in the room was warm and relaxed, and I was surprised and happy to find a space at this uni where poetry of all kinds and styles was celebrated and enjoyed. Naively enough, just because I haven’t seen it outright before, I didn’t believe there was a space for poetry in this town at all. Oh, how wrong I was.
This was my first poetry performance in Norway, and it was a lot of fun. Funnily enough, I’m just realising that I wore the same shirt on Monday that I wore to the SO: To Speak Poetry Festival in Southampton a couple of years ago – I guess this is “the poetry shirt” now.
I hope you enjoy this piece. It’s a cliche little love poem that means a lot to me, and it was lovely to finally get to perform it in front of a supportive crowd. It has love, it has spaceships and it has cheese on toast – what more could you want from a poem?
This evening definitely rekindled my love for spoken word-poetry. It was never gone, never burnt down or put out like a campfire under water, it just laid dormant as there were few opportunities to nurture it. Fingers crossed for many more nights like this one, nights that properly refuel the fire.
~ starting a new tv series you know nothing about ~ finding new books you’ve never heard of before, but the cover looks good ~ chocolate covered peanuts ~ the colour yellow ~ fruit smoothies with orange juice ~ wild rhubarb-smelling all purpose cleaners ~ framed photographs ~ old home videos ~ finishing books you’ve been working your way through for a while ~ getting your bachelor’s thesis proposition accepted ~ quiet study spaces ~ fried eggs ~ decluttering desk drawers ~ my new reading stand so I don’t have to hunch over my books during long study sessions (because I am an old lady) ~ re-falling in love with old favourite albums ~ the Taylor Swift Netflix-documentary ~ early morning bus rides ~ my baby nephew who’s just turned 7 months and is absolutely wonderful ~ the Life’s Library book club ~ quiet Sundays ~ oversized corduroy shirts ~ having just refilled your bus pass so it says “31 days left” when you beep it ~ the sun starting to peak back out in the spring ~ getting to the launderette just to realise that ALL the laundry machines are available ~ frozen grass that creeks under your shoes ~ a filled and organised book shelf ~ surprisingly productive days ~ being able to properly express your opinion at a student parliament meeting ~ seeing your work be published in online journals or other places ~ green apple-scented IKEA candles ~ dry shampoo ~ a newly hoovered floor ~ finally having milk in the house again after forgetting to buy it for a couple of days ~ beautiful handwriting ~ tea ~ my new customised planner ~ New Years mood boards ~ highlighters that aren’t neon coloured ~ examining different language translations of a poem and exploring what kind of different choices the translators were making ~ having your entire future in front of you ~ being able to look back at the past with both nostalgia and gratitude ~ finishing up a really big knitting or crochet project ~ getting started on a new and exciting knitting project ~ plans going exactly as planned ~ learning a new skill ~ proving yourself wrong on something you didn’t think you could do ~ waking up to snow on a January morning ~ mugs that are just the perfect size for your hands ~ feeling the warmth seep back into you after a walk in the cold winter air ~ finally grasping something you’ve struggled with in lectures ~ happy “hello”s on the street as you see people you know hurry past ~ David Tennant’s podcast ~ the new mittens my mum knitted for me ~ a good and respectful debate ~ seeing “assignment submitted” in big green letters on Canvas Student ~
Your eyes have seen the sun rise on 90 days, you have felt the dust of three months on soft skin. The woman holding you has gathered the days of war in her lungs, and where her memories are now smoke signals not even she knows how to decipher, her hands still tell her brain how to hold your little body so you won’t fall, how to shield you from the world she has fought and conquered and forgotten.
By the nursing home kitchen table she’s got no notion that dark coffee will scold her own mouth, but she moves the cup away from you, ”careful so he doesn’t burn himself.”
Suddenly, her language returns, her voice is the voice of the woman who has been hiding in the back of her heart since the turn of the decade.
She has held so many children safe in her arms, cured the scrapes of playground battles and lulled sobbing nightmares to sleep with lullabies she can’t recall ever knowing.
But holding you in hands that have held rationing cards – knitting needles – dried apple slices and one way tickets – the lady in the back of her heart breaks the surface of forgotten memories, takes a big gulp of air and looks at the world with her own eyes once more.
Hun går ned i vest, men du er i Østensola
Du har sett 90 dager komme og gå, du har følt solnedgangen og støvet legge seg over tre måneder. Hun som holder deg har hatt krigens dager i lungene, og der minnene hennes nå har blitt røyksignaler hun ikke klarer å tolke lenger, har hun det fortsatt i henda; hvordan hun skal holde deg så du ikke faller, hvordan verne deg fra en verden hun allerede har utfordret, bekjempet og glemt.
Hun vet ikke lenger at kaffen, den er varm, at den brenner alt den kommer borti om du lar den, men hun flytter raskt koppen vekk fra deg. «Forsiktig,» sier hun, «så han ikke brenner seg.»
Der stillheten har rådet, er plutselig språket hennes tilbake. Nå er stemmen hennes stemmen til kvinnen som har gjemt seg bort på bakerste rad i ryggmargen hennes de siste ti årene.
Hun har holdt så mange barn trygge i sterke armer, vært Akela for gater fulle av nabo-unger, kurert de falne etter utallige slag for lekeplassen, og vugget gråtende mareritt i søvn med godnattsanger hun ikke lenger kan huske å ha glemt.
Men der hun holder deg, holder deg trygt og hardt og samtidig så forsiktig, i hender som har knuget rasjoneringskort, manøvrert strikkepinner, lurt unna tørkede epleskiver og ikke sluppet taket i enveisbilletten til ei ukjent framtid, da kommer hun fram, damen fra bakerste rad i ryggmargen.
Hun bryter overflaten der røyksignalene ligger tjukt. Hun legger hodet bakover, puster krigen ut av lungene, og for første gangen på så veldig lenge, ser hun med egne øyne på en verden hun trodde hun hadde glemt.
Coffee soaked into the roof of a mouth whilst rain rallies itself outside strawberry fudge melting between teeth fingertips on the back of a neck. The mist outside falls into the bottom of the mug coalescing white smoke condensate heart on a window is this what it is meant to feel like?
I swim through quiet waves of evening, enveloped by lazy currents. I am not afraid of the water.
As a swallow graces the surface, droplets falling from its wing, I think of all the lives lived by this fjord before me. Women wrapping their shawls tighter around themselves, waiting for sails on the horizon, for fathers, for brothers, for husbands to come home.
Young boys who went to sea, much like I went to university, clenched fists and starry night-eyes, who learnt that nothing can quell an unforgiving ocean, not even the children who challenged the shallow shores, those who never returned to their mothers’ lullabies.
Their stories are in every rock, in every seashell. in every tide that swallows the docks. Stories of islanders who read tomorrow in the skies, who knew that red clouds predicted weary storms the type that could orphan their children and starve their homes.
The water still cradles me, there is salt in my ears, my hair flows like jelly fish tendrils around my shoulders. I have no doubt that all the souls lost at sea, the stories and the children and the ocean are resting in these waters.