The Abstracted Woman

I’m not an abstract
That you can take out of its box
And place in a column
Total up and measure
Against some statistic
Of two a week
Or 134 a term
Or once in a lifetime
Or after the age of 30
I’m not an abstract
That you can tesselate
To make pictures
Of veils
Or makeup
Or underwires
Or bound feet
Of folds of skin
Like dunes from a desert
That you’ll never see in the flesh
I’m not an abstract
Sat in a cell
Or sat in a line
On a border
In a boat
On a floor
At a stove
Squatting and heaving
Doubled over
I am all and none
I am solid and hollowed out
I am breathing, but barely
I am laughing
And devastated
I am desperate
And god
So utterly bored
So fully fatigued
At my kitchen worktop
At my boardroom table
At my mud-dug well
At my birthing chair
At my parent-teacher conference
At the grocery store
On the floor
On the bed
Against the wall
I am abstracted
I am

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To All Parts, held

I’m a stocky sturdy bundle of life
A live wire
Careful, don’t touch me
I might burn
I might combust
Would you explain
Tell me?
How am I bound?
All these bits made before I was born
Added to
Stamped with my joy
My melancholy
My love for the beauty
And wonder
In small things
How have I not flung apart like
Ash amongst the embers
Why did my little
Links hold?
Was it the love
That love – that steams
That crackles
That keeps you awake?
That love that traces
A tiny jaw
And hairs smaller
And lighter
Than dandelion seeds
That love
Pinning me
Until my energy has twisted itself tired
That love bundled my all
To his all
To all there is
To all there was

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Off Balance

I lost my centre
One day it was gone
Torn from me, leaving
A balance, sheer
Like trying to walk on rice paper
While making no sound
But a silent howl
At a nothing
At smoke I couldn’t grasp
With the one-two
And the three-four
Then the daily count upwards
Of little lives
And long lives
Old lives
And ones just beginning
This line of loss
Left the balance off
The world a-kilter
Found us swaying
And faltering
drawing in for comfort
Holding tight
As the tumult flung us up
And over
Not sure we would ever
Be upright again

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The LeavingĀ 

Take your flags
Circled in golden stars
Take the proud crosses inside crosses
And strike them through
Slay your Dragon
Until all you’re left with
Is plain grey cotton
Limp, damp and motionless

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I Was Born

I was born this knot of nerves
Of great heat and flux
I swelled and ebbed
An abundant churning sea
And I soaked up all the hard truths
And I carried the layers
Of frowns and smiles
On my skin
All those words spat
Sat just below the surface
All those hands that touched me
Slept deeper
Behind my ribs
Waiting for a pause
For the tide to be out
When I was grown
When I was greyer
And my edges softer
And the skin a little laxed
When those hands would be remembered
With a ferocity
That would tear the skin from my bones
I would turn and turn
Over and over
Looking for a different space
Another place in the bed
Where it could not be felt
Where those words could not be heard
And the only place
The only free spot
The only calomine for my ever-burn
Was the constant motion
Of a sea swim-a rising tide
Or a long hill and valley run
Never sitting still
Never finishing

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The Final Act

The summer is deadly
The woodsmoke a traitor
The heat on my back
Will surely burn me alive
To be conjured back
To that time of longing and hate
It’s a betrayal
With only me on stage
In a theatre 
I continue to Prop up
And the sound effects
Are the birdsong I woke to
The morning after
And the lighting
Is the shard of sun
Laying across my soaking torso
And the props
Are the upturned pictures
Lying on the bedroom floor
The extras all looking on
In quiet acceptance
And me the director
Laughing at the inadequacy
Of the script you wrote
Pretending it was improvised
With us both knowing
You’d planned those lines
And that final act
For decades

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A Little Life

Under leaves and shadows
Dancing over your pale blue
And peach
Tiny dustings of cinnamon sugar
On your cheeks
Your shoulders
You reach up for me
Your defiant arms
Curling around my neck
Icecream and strawberries, cherries
With something else
An earthy, sandy, buttery
You, baked and slippery
I marvel at how you once would fit
Coiled beneath my gut
Sprung out now
A little life
Shadows dancing
Over skin
Under the leaves

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Little Heart

Be gentle with me
She said
Hold me like a baby bird
Just out of its eggshell
Hold my little heart
In your palms
Watch my pulse
Watch me beat for you
Be gentle
Listen and breathe
Lightly over my surface
Be careful
I shatter when the air cools
When the acid spits
When the dark dog calls
But I soar
At a joyful touch
Revelling in my beauty
And spark
Watch my wings
Watch me fly
See me fly back down to you
My love
My lifeline in the chaos

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I tried to re-order my world
The land is the sea
The sea solid under foot
I walked over the shingle
Deep breaths of the sodium air
And drowned

I tried to re-order my day and night
The moon is the sun
The sun is the moon I said
But the night-time world was cold
And my body craved the light
Paler and paler I grew and blind

I tried to re-order my body
I am he I said
But the child at my breast
And the blood between my legs
Laughed loud

The rose kept its given name
While I kept mine
A sun came up
And a moon went down
And another and another

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Standing By

I cannot bear
I cannot bear
I cannot bear
The weight of hate
The sadness tugging
At a heart broken
From the constant pain
The perpetual loss
A motion that won’t stop
Daily death
Daily loss
Sanctioned murder
I cannot bear
That we won’t learn
How to stop
Tearing infants from breasts
Babes from arms
Making them bury their loves
Their lives
I cannot bear the lines
Etched fear
Upon fear
Upon fear
Of oceans or battlegrounds
Of starvation or drowning
Which would you choose
For your child?
I cannot bear
I cannot bear
That I stand by
Sit by
Turn over
Tune out
Standing by
Sitting by
Turning over
Tuning out

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