Welcome to my evening. I would love to simply kiss my husband goodnight and doze off. TURN OVER, I have taken my evening medication, all six of them. TURN OVER. My husband starts his evening purrs, just his rhythmic tiger sounds use to aid me to slumber. TURN OVER. No more can I find that useful vessel called sleep. TURN OVER My glass is no longer half full, there is no glass at all. TURN OVER. The TV is on very low but to me it’s screaming, TURN OVER. Its now wintertime and I have only a cotton sheet on me and heat is emitting from all my pores, TURN OVER. TV off and say my prayers please Lord flick this switch that screams my pain, let my strength in you regain. TURN OVER. It must be 3am now and still no sleep, maybe in the next hour…
It came to visit last week. No warning at Three am. One turn in my bed and here it is. Stealing my long breaths. Grasping the hand rail, I try to turn on my side. The red-hot cattle prod steals my spine. The pain splinters through my nerves screaming. One, two, three jabs in seconds, breathe I try to tell my nerves, muscles and sinews to rest. To no avail. I need a wee, no hope here. Hold and breathe. Stuck like a fly in a web. Its close by and ready to pounce if I try to breathe too long, if I try to twitch a muscle it will attack. I feel glued in on this bed, like a weight is pinning me down. It stayed for five long days before freeing me from its snare. Trapped nerves you are despair.
Our minds latch to narrative,
it’s how we learn, remember, interpret.
I went to hospital to have a baby,
I should’ve returned more, not less.
Subtracted: my ability to rise, walk, move;
In my pelvis, broken bone.
What is the premise?
What is the character’s motivation?
What is the hook?
That feeling: ochre, electric, waist down.
The hook is me on the edge of my bed, listening for my baby.
My doctor: you will probably heal
what if I don’t
things that were part of me: walking, laughing, being in ocean.
My editor draws lines through this section.
[The pacing is slow, nothing happens]
Days are triangles between the bed, the couch, the bathroom.
Pain tethers me; a dog on a rope.
I’m on the bed trying to stand, the collar pulls my neck
to breathe or growl
I watch from the other side of the room how I’m changed.
From our window, the clouds seemed static, frozen. Orange-and-green taxicabs drove through the slush six floors down. Tilly whimpered, buzzed for the nurse, asked for Dilaudid, whispered “good morning.” Swaddled in her sheets, she breathed hard. Phenolic air. She asked me how I was feeling. We lolled in our beds, our mothers asleep in their wooden chairs, wrapped in winter coats, their heads dangling crooked.
Tilly and I began our daily walk—we could only ever circle the floor twice. We linked arms, dragged IV poles with our free hands. The hospital hallway was long, off-white, off-world, a nearly invisible trail of half-existence. Fluorescent light faked endless daytime. Supposedly, there is also no night in heaven. With every step, that sorry tube stabbed me deeper in the gut like a helpless thief. Blood drained downward into a bag wrapped around my knee. My insides, bared to all who passed by.
My grandma had 7300 sleepless nights
Until a Shanghai doctor said
‘You have restless legs’
The 1st good night’s sleep
In the 7301 nights.
she is in the sauna drinking coke and eating salted peanuts
one knee resting against the hot wood, silvery hair damp and sticking to her shoulders
we discuss midwifery and the what it’s like to catch a slippery baby
in your palms
she is standing in seal skin coat with white fur collar beside the church
mid afternoon sun coming through jewel red of stain glass window
holding a cigarette to her lips exhaling smoke and warm breath
casual flick of ash hitting the ice
i can’t say what it is about these chance encounters that reel me in
give me something to latch onto
but mystery in itself can be a sustainer for the curious
there is no such thing as “meant to be”
things are just happening – miraculous, mundane things –
and why do we need more than that?
all is as it is as it is, amen
It hurts too much to move,
to unlock, unhinge my joints,
put pressure on my tender limbs.
I will wait for my Carer:
my lover, my friend,
who will lift me from my bed,
My arms encircle his neck
as I breathe in the salty sunshine
of his skin, pressing my lips against
the cool ripple of his shoulder blade.
He carries me to a bathroom
of sunken marble and satin cushions,
a garland of candles guides our way,
I am Ophelia light: baptised, reborn.
His devotion will wash
the wounds of night away,
unclench the claws which trap
I will bathe in his tenderness:
my twisted hands and swollen knees
brave and beautiful
in his eyes.
All will be well
when he arrives.
Pain permeates her dreams,
Seeps into this anaemic morning.
Sucking breath to unhinge each joint
stuck fast through the cramp of night.
The bathroom is an agony away,
Tender feet must scrape each step while
Wincing fingers trace the rails along
her jagged journey.
Tap turners levered by cankered wrists
bring the gush and plunge of warm water,
A pure moment of relief.
Her baby wakes in a scream of urgency
unanswered by her stumbling mother
who struggles to dress herself,
To start another day.
Soon her child will grow to patience,
Learn wisdom beyond her years,
Wait, while snaps and buttons
are fastened with fragile hands
And desperate cuddles given,
cringed with wrinkling pain.
For further information see: arthritiscare.org.uk
you sit in my throat like a stone in shoe
eyes dry as bone. bones hurt.
these days that feel different but all so same.
little belly wrenches all the time as though to be freed from something
tonsils i should rip them from my neck. daft neck
neck forever stiff
but why should neck feel at ease when i remain so needlessly static
lose my reasons every day
and think of new
ask yourself what time it is. what day
become like a teddy bear.
apples hurt my mouth but i still eat them.
how life is unfair.
why must i scratch my skin?
not fair on you
to have everything
daffodils. i used to kick their heads off. weak.
it follows me round everywhere.
what’s the point in being alive when you’re dead
how can you sleep when you’re wet
Helplessness. It’s worse for me you know. You are only suffering but you do that every day. But every day I wake up and with the reddened sky I know that I can never help you. Hopelessness. It’s worse for me. You can imagine a cure or some relief though you know – you know – that that will never come. All I want is for your pain to go away for ever. And you know please know that’s not the same as not wanting you here forever. Look into my eyes, please look into my eyes and please, please don’t show me pity.