“As she sets in the West, you’re in the Eastern sun”

(English above and Norwegian below the picture)

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.

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay 

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.

-Andrea

“I get it” by Harvey Randall

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?

Image by analogicus from Pixabay

-Harvey Randall

“Starry nights at sea”

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.

-Andrea

“Strawberry Breath”

I am not a song writer, but I appreciate the ease with which well-written lyrics can fall off your tongue. During the second year of my creative writing degree, I got to experiment with a module that focused on song writing, and while not strictly my “thing”, I did really enjoy it.

This song was written in 2017, as part of that module, to the melody of First Day of My Life  by Bright Eyes. It is supposed to illustrate all the small things that make up your perception of someone you love, all the small things you never thought of as special until you started associating them with your person. It is also about how even though a relationship may start off all exciting, like “fireworks and circus nights”, the safety and the comfort of the years may shape it into “October stars and Saturdays, and peppermint and quiet snow”, a quiet sort of every-day love.

Image by Robert Balog from Pixabay

“Strawberry Breath”

Verse:
This is a story about a boy,
Who wished on cardamom and tea cups.
He wondered the world without a map
smelled like the city,
danced like rain.

I got to hold him for one night,
Strawberry breath and chilli chocolate.
Thought I knew how to give him everything,
Now I know
I don’t know what that is.

Chorus:
But I have learnt that I was wrong.
You’re not the fireworks and circus shows
I made you up as, no.
You are October stars and Saturdays
And peppermint
And quiet snow
oh oh. 

Verse:
If I could hold you one more time,
I want to hear all of your stories.
About rhubarb and sugar and blueberry jam
And how it came to become you.    

Talk about silver in your hair,
And promises both held and broken.
about choices and beauty and bitterness,
and how we will grow old one day.

Chorus 2:
I don’t want fireworks and circus nights,
But blankets, slippers, plastic glasses,
pillow forts and snowball fights.
You are October stars and Saturdays
and knowing it will be alright.

Oh oh oh. 

A fun little experiment, where I tried my hands at something I very rarely do.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day!
-Andrea

16 to 23 and everything inbetween

Tomorrow’s my birthday!

I’m turning 23 and I’m not entirely sure what that means yet. I’m aware it won’t mean that I’ll wake up taller, wiser or more confident. I know your birthday is just a symbolic notion and that what helps you grow are all the days in between. However, like with New Year’s Resolutions, maybe birthdays can function as a day of reflection, a definite marker of another year passing. Not for everyone and not for the world, but in your very own timeline. What have you learnt since your last birthday? What have you figured out? What new people have you met, and what new paths have you travelled down?

To “celebrate” that today is my last day as 22, I’m posting this little video. It is a poem I wrote for the OctPoWriMo challenge, last year, about all the things I’d love to tell myself at 16. In the original post I wrote “this took a long time to get right, but I didn’t want to post it before I was happy with it. Felt like I owed 16 year old me that much.”

Filmed in my bed, with a comfy shirt on and a cup of tea waiting. It felt fitting to post this on my last day of being 22, as a symbol of all the things I’ve finally figured out, and of all the things I’ve yet to learn.

Here’s to making the next year a good one.

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

“I think I built you”

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.

-Andrea

Spring Clean

Come spring, I want to write.
To sweep the cobwebs off of old ideas, place flowers behind my ears and pencils in my pockets. To make up dialogues that have laid dormant and put soul in characters’ eyes. I want to shake winter out of tense shoulders, to pull snow and sleep out of the tips of my fingers, I want to see new places and paint my nails.
Every winter it’s like the cold bogs me down, drowns ideas under the frost, lets fog and rain take a hold of all the things I want to do.
But come April, the sun starts to peek in through the window, like a shy child hiding behind the clouds. Bit by bit, it becomes more confident, and bit by bit, it dares peek out behind its mum’s skirt. And just like that, I want to write. I want to clean up my space, put on fresh bed sheets, air out my room, air out my thoughts. I want to open all the doors and the windows, put loud music on, move around and clear out my head.
I want to create.

-Andrea

“In defence of Foreign accents”

(Draft of a work-in-progress poem)

The goal among the international students at my uni
was to completely drop our accents
to sound like we’d grown up with English birthday songs and ice cream floats.

We wanted to be able to go to any bar, to order any coffee
and keep any conversation going for however long a time,
only to be able to slip in an “oh, I’m not from England, actually”
and watch peoples’ surprise.

We worked so hard to lose our accents,
the sound of what we thought was “not enough practice”,
not good enough.

Oh, how wrong we were.

Accents are identity
just as much as names and clothes and the street corners you crossed on your way to school
Your accent’s where you’ve come from,
the journey to where you are now,
it shows the world you dared to try.

Your accent is your family traditions,
the lessons of your mum’s lullabies,
the laundry songs of your house,
a grandma’s lap,
and the courage it took to get on that plane alone.

Your accent is a road map of the people you care about,
those who took the time to sit with you while you were learning,
who let you spin wonders of the words you didn’t understand
and didn’t mind you trying on their pronunciations for size.

Your accent is your home away from home,
the amalgamation of all that you are and all that you’ve been.

So instead of dropping our accents,
let us celebrate them.
For all that we are,
and all that we’re yet to learn,
and every step along the way.

-Andrea

“Sophie’s Adventure”

In lack of proper wine glasses, we improvise with teacups,
and as the shutter of a Polaroid camera goes off,
she’s pouring rosé,
small, pink oceans, bubbles and light storms in our glasses.

We’ve made a cave of my uni room,
filled every nook and cranny with silly laughs and fairy lights,
hot chocolate scented candles,
and unfamiliar words in both our languages.
Words we hope’ll make sense
when English just doesn’t cut it as our middle man,
when the words of home become impossible to translate,
– so we let her German paint pictures in the air,
and Norwegian show off all the words it has borrowed;
we meet in the middle.

There are some things you just cannot learn in your home country.

Dreams are dreamt up tonight.
Plans for all the cities that are yet to be seen,
Northern Lights still to be chased,
the cross stitches of who we’d wish to be one day hopefully coming together.
Everything navigated in between sips of pink and the idea of fairy story cities.    

There are no thoughts that cannot be put into words,
no words that cannot be sown into these blankets,
and the four years separating us don’t keep our musings from dancing,
from twirling,
from harmonising to the same melody.

Because, in the strangest way, it’s like she is me three years ago,
just with a dollop more maturity it took me an extra year to obtain.
Alone in a new country,
figuring it out on her own.
We talk about being lonely;
we talk about that empty feeling of evenings on your own, beating yourself up for not living your adventure abroad to the fullest,
and of the nights that last forever, where you’re surrounded by friends and this new country feels like where you were supposed to be all along,
We talk about how that’s okay.

And we agree that on those days, whether the sunset reaches us before we’ve even gotten out of our beds,
or if 4 am finds us in the middle of a favourite song,
we’ll pour the rosé in our tea cups again,
raise a glass to ourselves and our empty rooms
and celebrate.

There are some things you just cannot learn in your home town.

Because there are so many people to meet,
so many friends to make, hands to shake, eyes to get to know.
So many languages to learn, so many wines to taste and teas to test,
so many pictures to take, that need their own space in an album somewhere,
or hung above a bed,
the memories of your own fairy tales lulling you to sleep.

So many stories, of the adventures that are waiting.
So let’s raise a glass to that.

-Andrea