Thursday, 29 March 2012

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Maybe it was an Intervention, kindly meant....
    Please don't tell me what to feel.
"You must move on"
is honked at me.
Move on where? I'm immobilised,
lodestar gone.
There is no on.
I do not see their horizon;
only blackness swirling,
dark space full of violence.

    Do they mean
Obliterate her essence,
deny her passion and her suffering
while she lived outlive her now?
(in me)
Throw out the once-beloved because they’re not perennial?
Fix affection on someone new, I’m told,
like a parasite creeping up new host.
I found out when I was eleven
that a parent is not a given.
I do not believe in household gods -
though I heard a banshee
knock a mirror off the wall,
spew vase and candlesticks
like lava on my bed.
(No fear of that: only the mice and rats
that scurry shitting whipping evil tails)

    Move on means I think Snap Out Of It.
After the funeral - and that’s a farce,
business numbers swopped at the bar,
undertakers flirting at lych gate,
most expensive handbag competition,
who loved her most award -
people get impatient with grief:
“You should be over it by now”
as if regret for whom you love is a short trip
across borders strictly controlled.

I would like to mourn with elephants
who remember their dead
while on the move
and do not tell each other what to feel.

    We are urged to weep for Hecuba,
grieving mother turned into dog,
on stage, film or TV news,
but not feel the suffering of our own loves
after they are dead.
They are now a fiction too,
absence less felt than phantom limbs.

    Please don’t ask how the dying are
unless you really care.
Empathy has a shelf-life,
like a nurse’s milk
gone sour.
After first act of drama,
long-term illness becomes
Credit’s lost condoling, “Ah!
The Silent Killer”
before anyone’s died,
if next year, too proud to lock a door,
they heartlessly sneer
when asked to account
by the Still Alive
for landlord’s duty of care.
Rolling pyschotherapist's eyes,
these supercilious, judgmental types,
window-makers into other people’s souls,
never think they are being seen right through.   

     After three months grief becomes a stigma.
Tainted, you’re an unwanted stain
at the back of other people’s minds.
Not to be outcast,
you pretend you’re getting better,
try to hide the anti-social haunting,
     the hunger inside.
What you are and how you love
is in your gut, the first centre
of our feeling,
our oldest brain.
A wise man tells me, “It’ll take five years”.
I cannot see the end.


The rescue for which we are most grateful
is being understood.
Often doing nothing is the kindest thing;
but only the brave dare risk
virtue that has no interest in showing itself,
kindness that has no reflection,
waiting and watching that yields no thanks,
the love of another
more than image of ourself,
kindness that mends
with invisible threads.

    But when it’s unwanted, help’s a bane.
I’m turned inside out by the meaning well.
Like charity fundraisers ringing you at home,
they push in when most you want to be alone
Not content with spectator’s view,
they want to be in the show,
share spotlight in drama
in which they have no part -
they’ll gatecrash weddings, births and deaths
because in the plight of others
is their food for self-esteem.

Sometimes in their hunger to be useful,
they miss the turning from kind to cruel.
They’d run over your dead body in a race
to win I’m A Good Person TV show.
Tacit sympathy and watchful waiting
do not earn them Brownie Points.
Blinded by their own torch
on the quest for a worldly crown,
they do not see the mark of hallowed ground,
they do not hear the murmured prayers,
and intrude on sacred hours with their solicitude.
I dare not tell them they’ve crossed a line.
I hate them for making me feel ungrateful,
I hate them for my fear of hurting them.
I hate myself for being just the same:
afraid to let them see my inner, angry, ugly, self.

       Hell is paved with other people’s good intentions;
kindness of those who think
I will be happier
if I’m more like them.
We label what we fear and do not understand
to make it tame.
We want others to be the same.
When I tell them how I feel,
they tell me I am wrong.
Extremes of emotion are put down
to abnormality of growth,
not an individual truth.
When I relate experience
not the norm,
community care a fascist knock on the door,
hospice a prison of indifference and neglect,
they tell me I am wrong.
(I must be - it says so in The Daily Telegraph.)

They tell me what to think and feel,
with missionary zeal:
out of pity for my suffering
they shove their own world-view
in my face,
They’d rather trust an institution
than my testimony;
an unreliable witness to my life,
mad not to be the same as them,
made mad by their denial.
What labels me, negates me.
I think it’s their way of staying sane.
I shrink away; I dare not start holy war,
not in their house.

     My personal experience disallowed
(on emotional grounds)
even as an exception to a rule,
sitting with my friend
I feel the loneliness of
the mad woman no-one believes
shouting on the city walls.
Speak what you feel, not what you ought to say,
and always be cast out;
wait bitter years for them to believe
once they've heard it on the news.

     "Mad bitch, mad bitch"
Not playground bullies this time, but aspiring adults
in the property market, hounding me out -
"You are exaggerating now -"
Confident of facts they were not there to see
well-meaning friend pulls down my last defences.
Disbelieved, I am null and void.
Not only an adopted child adopts a self,
all earlier selves rejected,
a child within a child,
made real only with affirmation,
dying like Tinkerbell for the clap of hands.

     Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will never hurt me:
impotent chant against human packs circling,
some with malice aforethought,
others with common sense.
“Your career has failed; it was a childish dream.”
Maybe it was an Intervention, kindly meant.
I would not wake them so rudely,
cast nasturtiums on their vocations.
Epiphanies should be private affairs.
Comments are disabled here.
We must fight even our friends to own ourselves.

When I’m dying, like a cat 
I’ll turn away and hide.

© Pippa Rathborne 2012