Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

What I Will Tell My Son About COVID-19

My eyes are staring back at me,

inquisitive and destined for exploration.

They want an explanation,

help with homework,

because a hellish phase of my life has now become history,

and I am a book,

as well as a chef,

so as I make dinner,

I don’t deny my curious companion the answers.

“Madre…”

The water simmers softly around the pasta,

a tiny hand,

that was once much smaller,

shyly pulls on my dress.

“What was the war on COVID like?”

Of course, it becomes a war,

because Britain cannot face its past,

without overdramatising.

“Overwhelming.”

My eyes meet mine again,

wide and wondering,

as I continue a lecture I still don’t feel qualified to deliver.

“I went walking in the park every day.”

He wants more.

“Your uncle made a lot of cakes.”

More, Madre.

“Grandma got a dog.”

I don’t tell him that I went to the park,

just to weep for what I was losing,

money,

my mind,

months at a time,

just wandering in the darkness,

waiting for relief that would never come.

I don’t tell him that the cakes came to pass,

because his uncle found me,

tear stained in the bathroom,

and he thought that filling my mouth with sweet treats,

would stop me saying I couldn’t stand life any longer.

I don’t tell him that grandma got a dog,

because she was locked away,

for far too long,

and she needed noise,

some warmth inside the quiet walls she called home.

I tell him about the singalongs,

weekly wailing applause,

zoom quizzes,

work from home sleep ins,

fighting back giggle fits,

when my first Covid test made my nose ticklish,

and the absurd exhilaration that his uncle and I felt,

when McDonalds was finally back on Ubereats.

I gently tell him of the loss,

how I was lucky to keep hold of each piece of my heart,

I let him imagine some of the drama,

so he can think of me as a hero,

but I never really tell him about lost,

lonely nights,

sleepless and never ending,

hospitals that became hell,

every night on the news,

pleading with the windows that stood between hearts to disappear,

how he was lucky to keep hold of his ability to exist,

because I almost lost mine.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

The Joy Of Performing

Lights up ahead,

hiding you from my view,

as I stand at the edge of expectation,

butterflies in my stomach,

my children in my mouth.

I don’t want to disappoint you,

but I imagine myself in your place,

and worry that I always will.

The lights linger,

ever stronger,

as the applause fades,

impatience begins.

I’m wearing cheap hoop earrings,

my grandmother’s ring,

my self doubt sticks in my throat,

so I drink in some stuffy air,

peppered with my perfume,

and bite my bottom lip,

tasting golden gloss and freezing fear.

My children are impatient.

I’ve told them that they’re loved so many times,

that they began to believe it,

now they long to meet the lovers who have paid to pick them apart (I never told them about that part),

so,

I take the children,

one by one,

and show them off to a gasping,

grateful crowd,

my smiling children shine,

stepping,

shy along the stage,

shimmering in the spotlight,

coming alive,

growing and glowing with adoration.

When the lights leave,

I am exhausted,

existing,

because I can do no more,

disassociating in a dressing room,

surrounded by my children,

their edges frayed,

pages parched and crumpled in tired hands.

I can still hear the applause,

and for a second,

it sustains me.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Empty Chairs

Empty chairs,

kept in the cupboard under the stairs,

far away from me,

and my solitary celebration.

Don’t cry for me,

because this ship can’t stand any more tears,

dearly departed plans,

that never had a chance of staying above icy depths.

You know I’m going to drink too much,

neat and neurotic,

fading from fine to finality,

back again,

then forwards.