Watching the program on RTE,:Redress, breaking the silence, I was very sad, angry and upset for the victims. I wrote down words some had used and put them into this poem. For all people of abuse, institutional or otherwise, Keep fighting, keep surviving,
What am I?
I ask of you, I ask of me
In the eyes and minds of others, do you see me?
Do we see the trees, in the woods?
The intricacies, the forms and shapes
Each piece, from root to tip
Some of it medicine, some of it poison
What is at the core?
Covered and disguised from and by
The beauty, the ugly, the refined, the wild
Enclosed, hidden, cocooned, protected?
Still it grows, it lives, it flourishes and survives
It smiles, frowns, laughs and cries
It performs, protects, gives life and reason.
It can multiply, it is duplicitous
It is harmful, outraged, calm
Yet, there is a serenity and purity and no shame or blame
So what do you see…. Me?
Shall I concede, should I?
Is it for me, to redress, to confess the sin, of you, of them
like a virus, I am infected,
I am confident in my trauma
It is cemented in and resides within me
It guards me, it is my shield, My weapon, my curse
So please, enlighten me
What am I?
A thing, a tool, a vessel, a release
A scapegoat for your, justice!
Money, a pay check, a sealed envelope to be locked away
I will be long dead, so tell me
Who is the criminal here?
The long dark despairing days fell on me
On my shoulders, on my soul
Where was or is my protection?
I am here
I live, I breathe, I survived
I will not be hushed or gagged anymore
I will vomit up and release this infection
And you shall set right this wrong
You will hear me when I set it free
Like a bird emerging from the tree tops
Soaring through the air, spreading its wings
Sharing to the world, what I am
I am innocent
I am grown, not a child anymore
I am injured but strong
I am bitter, but I found sweetness
I am cautious, but I am loved
I am not your victim
I am a survivor
I will not be silenced
Suicide and death, I have danced with, entertained and willed
How can I describe this ‘state’ that I am in? It is easy to articulate words, adjectives, but that is not the entire picture. It’s more than that. For one little word ‘Grief’, means so many different things. This one syllable word does not translate my ‘state’ of being.
At times, it is all consuming. A feeling of sadness, deeper than any crevice or hole and the possibility of crawling out seems improbable, unlikely and impossible. It is seismic, insurmountable, paralizing, yet ‘life goes on’. That is what they say, and usually, they are right. Life does indeed go on, but does the grief go away or does that go on too? Yes, night follows day, time continues to move, people move and the world rotates. Grief too rotates and I am at the centre of it. I am the axis for it. It changes me, or do I change it?
I am in the black hole and I don’t see you, I don’t hear you. I don’t see or hear anyone. I am remote. I am in my thunderous, swirling hurricane and I am spiralling deeper and deeper. I lock myself away. I curl up in a ball, I am foetal. I am helpless. I need an interaction, a distraction. I need transient nourishment. The pain is too much. I am starving with the hunger of needing and wanting you. I drink in the numbness. It soothes me. It entices me to its open arms and cradles me. It understands my pain and for a while, it takes it away and I am peaceful, blissful, for you are with me again and we are in each-other’s arms.
I see and hear you as you come into view. I get so excited at the recognition of you. It’s the most wonderful, warm feeling and it envelops me. I know you feel it too. I see it in your face. I watch your eyes light up, as do mine, and we embrace. We hold and try to cling on, but then in a cruel twist of fate, you are gone again. I am alone again, alone in my grief.
Oh people around me tread carefully, offer me the usual platitudes but I know they are getting frustrated with me. I see it in their eyes, I hear it in their voices. Their patience is waning and wearing thin. They expect me to just accept it, this loss, but I cannot, it is beyond my capability to do so. This grief is a thief of time and presence of normality and ordinary regularity. I want that too, more than anything, more than they want it. What do they know about it? They say they understand, but they don’t. How can they? They didn’t experience this loss.
All I have now are my thoughts and feelings of you. My memories come and go. My mind is distorted, somehow it forgets and regresses and then it remembers. That is when I wish I wasn’t here either. I just want to be there with you. Everything is clear and calm and easy there. Nothing makes sense here. I try to reason, to rationalise, but it’s just too big to fathom and understand and that is why I crumble and shout and scream. I’m afraid, I am terrified of ‘what next’?
How can I move on, just like that? It is not that simple, it’s too complex. I cannot get used to it, your absence. I too wish to become absent, nothing else matters. I will just submit to it. I invite it and long or it to come and get me. I wait submissively for the rotation, to bring me back to you. It is only there that I know who I am. When I am back there with you, that is normal, that is home, that is me, in my proper ‘state’. I recognise myself there and I remember who I once was before this decrepitude enslaved me. I see me clearly with clarity and I am, once again, intoxicated with happiness. I, somehow made it back, and for a while I am not grieving. Then, without warning, I disappear abruptly, with wanton abandon and again, find myself surrendering to grief.
There’s a war inside me but I must remain calm Hide vital signs, it will cause untold harm Carry on doing all sorts of normal Day to day bullshit keeping it formal Bury all the secrets, desires and vices Well hidden from them, cos you know what the price is Tip toe outside, inhale that fresh air Drink in the freedom, run if you dare Dance with the devil, make a pledge with your soul What is it now? your ultimate goal Keeping the peace, has its own pricey deal Paper over the Cracks there’s much to conceal Passion’s in fashion it’s bubbling within Forever told it’s the ultimate sin Cavorting and frolicking, sounds like fun Step out of the clouds and into the sun Pounding and pumping expressing out loud Not quietly and meekly, not making a sound Dancing and drinking, smoking some weed Walking naked, this body has needs Take off the shakles and old rusted chains There’s always tomorrow to start again Today let this war just come to an end And this new stage of life, simply transcend Excess is what teenagers do, pushing the boundaries, rebirthing, anew Identities are found at this turbulent time Restless, yet fierce and disturbed of mind Trying new things, perhaps shooting up Drinking in life from an overflowing cup So now it’s my time, I just want to try I don’t want it all to pass me by Time to run, set myself free I spent my life, nurturing family Go down the path, and out of the gate Let down your hair, it’s never too late So what if you shock them for claiming your time Seeking out fun is not a crime Your family is grown, their time has come To start setting boundaries, to be the sensible one Off you go just flee that empty nest This life comes just once, it’s not a test So break out the chains and end that war Time for adventure, walk out the door Whatever it is that you seek or find Discover the you that you’d left behind Get rid of the baggage, the accumulated faults Your time is now, it’s time to revolt
Thump. Click. squeeze, shoot Get ready for it, No thing matters Joy, escstacy, flying high Slump, bang, pain, no sense No thing matters Punch, slap, crack, bruised Floored with numbness, what next No thing matters Walking one step, then another Head down, faceless, useless No thing matters Itching, scratching, bleeding out Choking, broken, staring down No thing matters Do it, take again and again Worthless, scum, thing, friend? No thing matters Nothing else, here, now, Dying, death, take me out……
Words unspoken Stuck in my chest Heartbroken Sting in my eye Wet rolls down my cheeks Heartbroken much, unable to speak The time was today I knew it was coming Still not prepared Arguments going around in my head What about this or let’s try that I’m sorry she said, he’s just too bad I feel it crack and break in two My heart, It’s full of love for you But jack, my boy, you gave us joy As you leave us, to run and roam free We love and thank you for your loyalty Off you go To doggy heaven Heartbroken are we But you’ll never be forgotten
The bench it has a year round view As it stares out at the sea Taking in the memories Of all that it can see It never fails, in fine details Whether big or small Memories thought long since gone, now can be recalled A discreet yet public kind of voyeur Where people sit and rest a while, as if they had been lured And if you look upon the bench Is usually an older crowd Their mind still full of youth With a body that’s let them down But when I sit upon the bench Looking out to sea I remember all the times that you too sat here with me This bench is for your honour It has an engraved plaque But how I wish we were young again And I would have you back.