Standing at path level
under this old tree in this old forest,
I imagine them
(1) Top leaves
Full of the arrogance of youth –
brand new and above all –
joyous, soaking up the daily sun –
taking for granted the light, the wind, the sky –
looking down at the ones below
living with less wind, less light, less sky…
But still! (and less battered too)
Unaware of the alternative –
that top leaves become bottom ones when (if) the tree grows.
(2) Bottom leaves
Looking up, indulgent and wise, glad
to enjoy the rays and the air getting through, feeding.
Layers upon layers, they create a vision,
of greens and browns, of light and shade,
branches and foliage swaying,
rocked by the wind – it is dark – it is bright.
The sound of a bins’ truck down our street.
The warmth and whiff of the mug of tea – or coffee.
The damp smell of humidity from the shower.
The normalcy of brushing one’s teeth.
An areugh and a laugh downstairs.
The smell of toast, the pang, the crunch – spreading butter…
The scent of fresh air and grass when I open the door.
Quacking pigeons and seagulls.
The wind in the leaves.
A kiss under the blue sky.
A cat miawing, a car roaring.
The sound of the truck driving away.
What a lovely day!
My shoulders hurt, my arms, my belly, my hips, my thighs…
I gave birth two days ago
for the second time.
Tired and aching,
I find myself liking some of the muscle stiffness –
they are the signs of the battle I fought
against fear and doubt and through pain,
armed with a ball, a TENS, and the memories of my first.
It was unexpected then,
this time I knew going into fight,
though I’d forgotten too.
I breathed, I held, I moved,
secured and supported by my guardian,
my comrade in-arms, my midwife,
I pushed for Life.
His head first, then his shoulders came, down to his feet!
He breathed and he cried!
As I carry my son in my arms
and feed through the night,
I find myself wishing for tattoos:
one for my eldest, one for my youngest.
They would be my medals
for the most important battles I ever fought,
the most important wars I won.
And there I know,
if I were to keep some – priorly dreaded – marks
of this pregnancy on my body, proud I should be.
“She gave us this gift from back home”
Understanding they are good neighbours, friends even.But what her voice and her skin do not say is she left this home her country 40 years past. There is no forgetting. She cooks one way one day and the other the next, speaks to her children in the language for them to access the knowledge, the culture. They learn the major tongue elsewhere. Uprooted at six months old he lived here for forty years. What his voice does not say he tells strangers willingly:
“I am from there” he smiles and chooses to remember.He tells stories and asks for them,visits landmarks with his children.Did they laugh in school at his name, at his parents' voice, until he owned them?
“Not from here, different” some say, some whisper. What does it take to be accepted or tolerated? What does it take to not be? A voice, a skin, a remembrance of identity
– food, people, places, customs? Blend in some cannot, would they want it or not,a mixture made over time they have a foot over some line, drawn with changing references it forgets history and choices.
It’s been a few weeks and a few boxes for our coming change of home and country 😉
Something that is bugging me is that I keep wondering how we could tell our 19 months old son that we will be moving. Everybody I’ve been talking to seem to think that he won’t mind, as long as he is with us. But he looks really happy here, and even after a month of summer holidays, he still remembered where everything was, the books, the switches and the TV and how it worked. We have no way of knowing what he will think and feel and we can’t explain what is going on. I’d really love to be able to promise that we won’t be moving again and that the next house, or at least the area, will be the one where we will stay for him to grow up and make friends. I’d love that but we’ll have to see, I find it difficult to imagine us settling anywhere, really.
Because we are leaving soon, I thought I would post this poem written some time ago on the subject: