“Old Harry Rocks”

Written on the 21st of October, 2018.

The hillside is full of sheep.
They graze the grass we walk on, they don’t mind the steep slopes
and the cliffs.

The villagers call it a mountain, everyone else calls it a hilltop.
I want to call it an adventure.
Everyone we meet are prepared with hiking boots and walking sticks,
we are armed with sneakers and half a sausage roll.
This wasn’t where we thought today was gonna lead us.
Four hours up and four hours down,
we scale steps carved into the hillside,
past trees that have grown into each other
to seek refuge in numbers
from the sharp sea air,
gusts coming in from the northern sea.

Beneath us, Swanage wanes away.
The bay grows smaller and smaller,
until you could fit the entire town between your thumb and ring finger,
lift it up and put it in your palm.
Maybe that’s what I’m trying to do;
Lift Swanage out of its little nook between the hills and the unforgiving ocean,
nestle all the teacups and barefoot walks along the beach
into the crook of my neck,
keep it there to remind myself of the times I’ve felt like I belong here.

I clutch your hand in mine,
feel your nails against my skin.
In front of us, the terrain evens out.
Two chalk rocks stand side by side,
broken away from the hillside, they hold each other up.
They’ve been standing since long before the town came to be,
just as the town will be here
long after I have left.

-Andrea

Pyjama Sessions – “I said there’s no getting rid of me now…”

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.

I hope you have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“To the woman on the bus writing music in the air”

The bus is quiet today,
with the breath of only a small dozen commuters fogging up the glass.

I’m catching up on some reading,
highlighter between my fingers,
taking notes in my head,
knowledge sporadically thrown into the compartments of my mind.

Next to me, a lady is scribbling on a piece of paper.
She hums and taps her fingers,
bites the inside of her cheek and narrows her eyes.
Her hair is falling in front of her face,
a pencil’s stuck in between neat lips.
Her fingers are writing out music the rest of us aren’t allowed to her
just yet.

She’s balancing sheet music on her knees,
only stopping momentarily to conduct the choir in her mind.
It looks like a big one.

I’m cramming last minute facts into my reluctant brain,
wars and names and dates long passed.

She’s creating something wonderful,
music a small dozen commuters can only imagine,
just yet.

-Andrea

Blue Psalms of All Hallows Eve

Today we celebrate All Hallows Eve, and for the first time I’m feeling the weight of it as more than just a holiday for other people to remember their loved ones.  This year I’m one of the one’s remembering, and that still hasn’t entirely registered, even after months have passed. Our days are so busy, our minutes too short, our steps too hurried, it’s so easy to wrangle that dark spot in your stomach into the back of your mind, to think grief is for another day. Except it rarely is, and it shouldn’t have to be.
Most days grief is for right now, most days grief has no interest in being pushed away, and on those days we should give grief a name.

I translated an All Hallow’s Eve Mass, for a service that was held today in the cathedral in the town I’m living in now. I don’t think of myself as Christian, but I’ve been working in some churches in my time, and I’ve been translating and live interpreting services in the cathedral for a little while now as work experience for my translation BA. This was a challenging one, though, just because the liturgy’s so heartfelt, the psalms so well-chosen and thus, the words just hit that little bit closer to home. It didn’t feel like work, more like hurting and healing.

The service was a beautiful one. Dignified, graceful and appreciative. It focused on relations between people, and what happens when we suddenly have to start talking about our loved ones in the past tense.
I must admit I’m still not entirely used to that part, yet.

For some, death may come expected, it may even be wanted, while for others it strikes abruptly and harshly, changing everything, taking people we cannot bear losing.
“Those who are loved will never be forgotten,” said the priest, a young woman who touched every heart in the congregation, who laid an arm of kind words around the shoulders of everyone in the church. You could see people needed to hear what she was telling them; that their emotions were valid, that grief takes many forms and that no one form is more correct than another.
Death is weird, it always has been and always will be, and we all react so differently when we encounter it.

This post is a bit jumbled, but I just wanted to share with you a paragraph from her sermon that I translated:

Those who are loved, will never be forgotten.
Many of us carry heavy burdens, we carry bereavement, loss and grief.
Today we think of those we love that are no longer with us.

We think of our community, of compassion and wonderful memories.
we are grateful for the days and the years we got to share,
for kind words, for warmth and for joy.

Many of us carry grief over everything that never came to be, 
for relations that were challenging,
for wounds that struggle to heal,
grief over what was taken too quickly,
over everything we never got to say.

We humans are so great at not saying what we think, at forgetting to remind people that they are appreciated; we often take it for granted that people know we love them.
But we also have a million tiny ways of showing that we care, and today I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the ways the one I’m missing showed that she cared. I’ve lit candles and quietly sung songs that remind me of her. I’ve twirled her bracelet around my wrist, and I’ve consciously tried to name all the feelings that have bubbled up in my stomach, wound its way around my heart, up through my throat and that’s lingered behind my eyes. It’s been strange and a little bit scary, but it’s also brought a sense of calm.
I think I needed it.

I wasn’t prepared for today to be as heavy as it was, and I didn’t think I was going to write about it. I’m not sure what this even is, a little stream of consciousness, my mind trying to figure out what it’s feeling.
It’s been a good day, though – an important day.

I hope you all have had a good day today, too, and that you’ve had your loved ones around you.
Because those who are loved, can never be forgotten.

-Andrea

“First snow”

My garden’s been eaten by fresh bedsheets of snow,
it’s covering every inch of grass,
blanketing the city,
hushing it,
making it move a little slower than normal.
Winter tires, snow boots, layers of scarves to keep out the chill.
“It rarely snows like it used to,”
we say most winters, and we solemnly nod,
“global warming and the environment and all that.”
But for now, the sky is glittering,
with a million frozen dancers
who twirl and curtsy
like they did in the old days,
to an orchestra only they can hear.

-Andrea

 

“Kintsukuroi”

Prompt:”she never seemed shattered; she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battles she’d won”.

I’ve been reading up on Kintsukuroi,
the art of repairing broken pottery with gold.

I feel there is something for us to learn here,
what if we took hopes shattered and dreams lost
and coated the cracks with something we hold dear.
If we held heartbreak in our hands,
cautious fingers sowing the pieces back together, molten metal
making it gleam like the very first sun on autumn dew grass.

If we did this, then all our errors,
our missteps and regrets,
would become art, something to grow from.
The golden lines, paths we’ve travelled, roads we’re yet to see.

Maybe we wouldn’t be so afraid to make mistakes,
if we knew we could make something beautiful

of what is broken.

OctPoWriMo2018, this poem combines the prompt of day 11 (“Falling through the cracks”) and the prompt for day 12, which is Matt Baker’s poem “she never seemed shattered; to me, she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battles she’d won”.

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“To the sixteen year old who wanted to change the world”

I can see you standing at the edge of everything you know,
so ready to throw yourself at every opportunity.
You flex your fingers, nails bitten short,
everywhere but here, you think.

You’re sixteen years old, you have so many plans,
there is so much you want to do.
You’re gonna do it all.

But right now, you’re terrified of being alone,
so desperate to be part of a group that you’ll laugh at their jokes,
even when the jokes make your cheeks burn,
you’ll chant along to their songs,
even when the words make the hairs on your arms stand on edge.
Soon you’ll learn that your words are more valuable than that,
and most importantly, you’ll learn that you are capable of being on your own.

Right now, you don’t just carry your heart on your sleeve,
you have sown it onto your palm.
Every time you greet someone new, you give it away.
It’ll take you a few years, but you’ll get better at guarding it,
and you’ll start to learn to walk away when you need,
and persist when you must.

You’ll learn that not every opportunity is golden,
that not every acquaintance is going to help you grow.
The sooner you learn that, the sooner we can stop picking bad decisions out of our hair.

Stop being so adamant,
you know nothing of people’s lives.
You don’t know anything about the dreams they had to alter,
how they had to come to terms with what the future held and didn’t hold.
Instead, be kind, tread lightly on other’s challenges,
and try to leave every moment you visit a little bit better than you found it.

You give so much and expect just as much back,
but I will tell you right now, people do not work that way.
No one wants you to give them your all, to give yourself up for someone else;
making other people’s pain your own,
does no one any good.

And remember to let people know how you feel;
even the ones you love cannot read your mind.
You’ll be left with nothing but clenched teeth and a mouth filled with coal
if you always expect people to know what they did wrong.

But there is so much good in the world, and you will find it.
In places you never thought to look,
in friends that you won’t meet for years.

And come twenty-two, you won’t even believe where we are now,
you won’t believe the people we have in our life.
Soon you’ll sit on the kitchen floor
in a little house all on your own.
You’ll have your back up against a fridge covered in pictures
of new friends and old friends and places you have yet to see.

You’ll lean your head back, close your eyes,
and think about a day spent in a little cafe in a new city,
laughing until you had to clutch your stomach,
worried you’d laugh your lungs straight out of your chest.
You’ll think about nights spent dancing,
sugar under your shoes,
nightclub evenings with people you’ve known since you were children,
when life’s brought you down different paths, but never too far apart that a slice of cake and a cup of tea can’t bring you back together.

Right now, you want to change the world so badly.
You want to grow up, get out, see the world and everything it holds.
You want the taste of unfamiliar foods on your tongue,
strange new flavours and ideas,
you want to meet every soul that’ll ever change your life,
and all of that right this second.
I promise you, you will do all of that.

But let me tell you, growing up is happening fast enough,
and the people around you are growing old.
And soon, you’ll stop biting your nails.
You will move to another country, you’ll sign up to societies and clubs and events,
you’ll enter so many rooms knowing no one and exit with more love than you know what to do with.
You’ll start writing poetry, and you’ll read it aloud for almost a hundred people.
You’ll take the train to new cities you conquer on your own.
You’ll start sitting in cafes all alone, watching leaves fall off the trees,
and you’ll discuss how you love, but never really understand, Shakespeare,
with new friends who you’ll write postcards to, for years to come.
You’ll call multiple towns your home and dream in more than one language.
You’ll see sunshine in a raincoat and change the world one new thought at a time.

It’s all gonna happen soon enough,
so take your time. You’ve got plenty of it right now.

Love, a twenty-two year old who’s just starting to figure it all out

OctPoWriMo2018, the prompt for day 7 was “unsent letters”. Yes, I know day 7 was yesterday, but this took a long time to get right, and I didn’t want to post it before I was happy with it. Felt like I owed 16 year old me that much. Life has gotten a bit in the way for my October Poetry Writing Month and I haven’t posted a poem a day at all, but I’ll keep trying as best I can, and post the few poems that do come from this challenge.
This, however, felt both strange and wonderful to write at the same time. Packed full of cliches and abstracts, as a symbol of how nothing feels more cliched and abstract than being sixteen.

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea