My first glimpse of Charlotte

I remember you every day
the awakening knowledge of you
my fear, and yet also joy
a fluttering inside, changing
the flittepy flop of movement

The realisation of you
with your tiny arms and legs
the blurry image of you
your shape upon the screen
your heart pippity papp

I saw you, your bum, your head
your teeny tiny nose
the perfection of your fingers
the sound of your heart beating
your life waiting

Indigestion, the need for a pee
oh god, am I really going to be
a mummy, a parent
a person to be relied upon
are you sure, is it to be

Every night awake feeling movement
an ever growing belly
a tenderness, milk filling
changing shape, making room
a growing excitement, anticipation

Making plans, drawing close
looking at your picture
thinking of all the possibilities
the person you might someday be
loving you, even now

And then pain, a flowing, bleeding
a rush as we try to get help
and then dark blankness, lost time
a holding of hands, a whisper of words
Charlotte is gone, she's an angel now

I try to hold on to that thought
as tight as I can
I search for your mourning
but it's buried deep inside you
a place I'm not allowed to go even now

I have a place like that too
buried deep within my heart
and Charlotte is there
growing, living, dying, transcending
becoming something more

Oh Charlotte I wish you'd been born
been allowed to breathe, to grow
to give me grief on a different level
I'd have waited up on graduation night
I'd have sat through your first heartbreak

Better that than the heartbreak
of losing you before having you
of seeing only a picture on that screen
of never holding you in my arms
of hearing of you from faceless blue suited people

I remember you every day
I think of the girl you might have been
the woman you might have become
the daughter I would have loved
if time had blessed me with your care

I named you Charlotte knowing
that had you grown
I'd always have called you my Charlie
so you could choose to be
blokey or not as the case might be.

The look

There's a certain look that tears at my heart every time
evokes in me a desperate need to reassure, to stand alongside
it's that vulnerable expression speaking of the fear of rejection
a fear so many of us have and one I share wholeheartedly

So when I saw that look recently unexpectedly upon your face
I was torn by a need to keep my distance yet also draw near
you taught me I must learn to conceal my emotions like a weakness
that crying was an activity to be confined to solitary privacy

For too many years you have shown little care for my fears
creating a false note in every interaction, refining the act
and having learnt to act my part I must now shed the mask
show my hand at last, but there is no succour, no triumphalism

However many unresolved issues of anger there are between us
where there is need I feel the need to help, to comfort even
but breaking down the barriers between us, learning a new honesty
I have to say I do find the prospect of doing this quite scary

For I risk that feeling again but with a much increased intensity
knowing I have never been the daughter you would have wished for
never been made of the right stuff, too weak, too emotional
too prone to tears, to saying how I feel, to telling the truth

Perhaps it's easier to tell yourself these things than to see
that we are very similar we two, experience carving the difference
creating the schism ... the mirror is such an uncomfortable place
yet for me there is some comfort in seeing you in my reflection

I have learnt to curb my behaviour when I'm with you, act the part
speak more carefully, choose my words, avoid upset at all costs
but the sands of time are shifting and fracturing the game
we may have to learn new rules, new ways to be around each other

Until I met my gentle man, I had no idea how it felt to be safe
to be cared for, to know that with all my faults I am loved
your withdrawal from all the chaos and hurt during our childhood
left no room for the simple acts of love, a gentle word, a hug

Lost to us in your own world, protecting yourself, shutting us out
I wished I'd known then what I do now about the dark clouds
about the despair and fear you felt, the need for any escape
the deep lasting hurt that even now has such a strong hold on you

Did you think I wouldn't understand, that the passage of years
wouldn't at some stage awaken in me some measure of wisdom
some degree of compassion for a woman in such desperate straits
that survival depended on a willingness to shut everything out

For all we never speak of it, I love you still, as you do me
and I suspect that these shifting sands scare you more than I
to admit to the need for help is a hard thing to learn years on
another part of coming to terms with the late autumn of your life

With age comes fear, bred from seeing your growing undeniable frailty
an understanding that there will soon be the question of dependence
will you be able to depend on a daughter whose faults are clear to see
I wonder if you feel undeserving of care, having cared so little

No that's not right, it's not a lack of care on your part is it?
more an inability to unwind enough to speak this foreign language
a fear that you've left it years too late to start all over again
and that's mostly my fault, I should have never bought into the act

I should have started years ago to show you the person I am now
should have led the way, hugged you, said words despite your unease
caused upset, shown my emotions, taught you this foreign tongue
I should have done everything to stop you having to give me that look.

the turning tide

It has been a bit of a mixed bag these last weeks
some days spent where you're here with me, the next not
but then the tide turns and here you are again smiling
so I try to bury that old resentment and smile back
there's no point in resenting an illness, no point at all
and yet the fact that you refuse to acknowledge the tide
or the length and depth of your absences, it scares me

It speaks of the breadth of the distance between us
what you call being a bit down has lasted some months
relentless days of silence interspersed with raging fury
but when I mention this you deny, refute and anger builds
I'm being over dramatic, trying to make it more than it is
if only I'd leave well alone things would be just fine
it's like an old tune that one, I've heard it many times

The temptation to continually avoid confrontation is huge
but the knowledge that silence makes me complicit in this
drags me almost against my will to suggest discussion
I am met with a hard stare and a trip to the wine rack
a sullen silence ensues as the wine is drunk, one glass
for I am in no mood to dull my senses further, to drown
this has proven to be a false alli in such endeavours

It's pointless having this discussion now the bottle's done
your eyes glaze as you stumble off for more, so I retire
knowing that the new day may bring a change in the tide
may see you on shore wanting to walk in the shallows with me
holding hands, laughing at the spray, enjoying the day
for the tide turns both ways although silence beckons you I know
wrapping you in your inner thoughts far from my knowing.

But I do know that you're emerging, the undertow is less
and whilst you still look wistfully out to sea you stay
more and more days here with me on the shore, warming me
keeping me company, lessening the resentment slowly
rebuilding what we have, reassuring me that you're here
but somehow this seems largely on your terms not mine
a fear of discussion does not seem a sound basis to me.

Timing is so important though don't you find? I do
to avoid things escalating into another towering rage
that leave me feeling frightened and child-like again
not scared in the physical sense although a bit I admit
more this knowledge that things said can't be unsaid
and things heard likewise although I try not to hold these
I try to let go, to give them flight into forgetfulness.

This illness robs us both, though you can't see that
your lack of acknowledgement does not negate the facts
this tide that drags you out to sea is not of my imagining
it is like the dark clouds that come for me sometimes
but I don't deny them, I tell you of their existence
although the telling makes you uncomfortable I need you to know
when the clouds gather I leave unwillingly, but I will return.

I wonder how it would be if I did what you did to me
spent weeks unspeaking, not acknowledging your presence
not washing, rocking, sitting in the dark, drowning nightly
and then daily and nightly, consumption spiralling upwards
and with it withdrawal, an ever increasing distance, coldness
if I did this would you then call it being a little bit down?
I suspect I'd find myself resident at the local funny farm.

And just as I think I've got the hang of this letting go
this shelving of the the resentment caused, there it is
in all it's bitter glory. I hate what this illness does
I hate that it takes you and makes you almost unrecognisable
turns your gentleness into something altogether harsher, harder
as the despair sinks right into the pit of your being
god I'm glad to see you back on shore my love, please stay.


Shhhh, she might still be sleeping, thump crump fumble, but why?
stage whispering is not a skill learnt at aged three it seems
and neither should it be, freedom of speech being all important
and no more so than when asserting your right to seen and heard
regardless of tender years and we all know this might end in tears
and anyway I can't very well enjoy a visit if I carry on sleeping.

I'm awake I call, for if I rely on my speed to get up they will go
so up comes one of my very favourite small people bearing treasure
a slightly crumpled paper airplane, and it's for me, super duper
it just can't be beat that feeling of receiving a homemade gift
one that's been carried with determination, presented with pride
what can one give in exchange? A cuddle with no hint of a grimace.

And of course admiration as the plane takes flight ... kind of
there is a tendency to spiral and dip, but a fold here and there
a slight straightening up and we're away, luckily it works a treat
and so pride is restored and my young aeronautical engineer is happy
as am I, for a bit of paper plane maintenance is a welcome diversion
to hear laughter, running feet. Three year olds don't walk do they?

And then a spot of tea and cake. Of course this involves soft toys
of which I confess to having a small collection; a rabbit called Fuzzy
a bear called Chomodeley which has a very odd spelling indeed, anyway
there's a small mouse called Harriet, and an orange "thing" called Bug
all these are arrayed for the tea party with plastic plates and cups
and water of course, but only a tiny dribble, floods have been known.

If there is a phrase that three year olds are mostly immune to
it is "be careful" followed by "not now", I try to avoid these two
and almost without fail this leads to mess, floods, splats, smears
but you see I have the supreme luxury of a limited time to endure this
and however shocking, really most mess can be sorted relatively easily
I hide away anything likely to cause stains, I'm not that stupid.

But I'm determined that good times should be allowed whenever possible
with the fewest constraints other than those that safety dictate
for fun is something we've forgotten the value of, busy being adults
and whilst of course we can't play all day every day, we can sometimes
we can shed the shackles of grown-up-ness and rediscover playing
and in doing so we might discover something amazing, we can have fun.

Such a simple word and yet if you pause for a second and ask yourself
when did I last have fun? For too many of us it has been far too long
life is being lived on the run, no time for such simple pleasures
no time for pausing for thought even, well isn't that a bit convenient?
a bit of a get out of jail for free card? I'm too busy leave me alone
how long does a game of tiddlywinks take, do you know? It depends.

time off for napping

It's torn ligaments apparently that's all it is, what a relief, well of sorts
this doctor who looks about fifteen years old helps me down from the table
and whilst I'm standing wavering slightly in my agony she talks of Pilate's
all I'm interested in is effective analgesics, but there are hoops here so I wait
and armed with a mighty cocktail I creep home hand on wall, old lady walking.

And safely home I look at the goodie bag, reminding me of candy at Halloween
I take my first dose of everything prior to reading the contra-indications list
in the end it's all about priorities and pain ranks up there big time at the mo
seems like I could keel over from any one of these meds for too many reasons
so I figure not too worry overly, at least the pain will eventually subside.

So time is passing in a slightly muggy fuzzy daze of drinking tea, dozing
wondering why my incidental eye infection rather than clearing up has flared
so that looking in a mirror I look like my face has gone all squishy and puffy
but at least I can navigate the stairs quite safely, albeit at a snails pace
and the trip to get another cup of tea requires careful planning and a nap.

I am so seldom laid up for any time at all so it's quite a strange experience
a little peak into the lives of people who disappear for months from work
re-appearing completely changed, gaunt, or quite the opposite, but changed
talking more quietly, moving less certainly, thinking perhaps a bit more slowly
and looking out of place, the pack has been shuffled whilst they were away.

And work is like that don't you find? That those who turn up without fail
find themselves being shuffled due to the temporary absence of colleagues
who on their return hold them responsible for not learning to juggle quickly
and in choosing which balls to drop without fail drop the most critical of all
leaving plenty of scope for the blame game, the game apparently no-one plays.

So instead of resting up and enjoying this time away I am worrying about this
for I know my fellow jugglers in this case all too well, and skilled they are not
well, not in the keeping of many things tumbling through the air they're not
they're bloody good at letting it all crash down and pointing fingers elsewhere
I suspect it'll be a shambles. Must ensure I get more nap time in before then.