Kidding around on a train by Gill Melling
I wish that I was small enough
to trample on the seats,
and sit under the table
engulfed in eating sweets.
I’d fall asleep upon the floor
and quickly roll my apple core
into the aisle and wait to see
it crushed by people’s feet.
I’d have a story read to me
by someone soft and warm.
Quiet but don’t be fooled,
it’s just the calm before the storm.
I’d shout and laugh and mess about
and be a total pain,
and just when there’s a moments peace
I’d do it all again.
Today this carriage is a chrysalis
For twenty minutes I’ll restock and move on
from my first instar.
Winter-hardy, like shutters closing inward
My mind calms.
The passing scene, many into one
Green, a gentle stream
With each, I begin to molt
Taking breaths from inside this shell.
By the time the train pulls in
I’ll have transformed: a new me
To face the outside
Brighter, still unshaven
though colour in my cheeks.
First stop, the station platform
Next, the world.
Ben Barton’s poetry has been widely published in the UK and USA. His new book The Hospital is soon to be published by Cultured Llama. Nominated for the Canterbury Poet of the Year Award and the Erbacce Prize, he works as a professional copy and travel writer. He has a website at benbarton.co.uk
© Ben Barton 2018
I have a gorgeous daughter with severe autism. I often get told how calm and cheerful I seem considering the difficulties we face as a family.
I’ve only just realised that one of my coping strategies is to daydream. To dream of worlds that are full of magical creatures and the drama of nature; places where we play and dream and dance.
These drawings are doodle of my daydreams. The angles, proportions and narratives are all happily higgledy-piggledy, daft and dreamy; adding just the right amount of magic to what could be a difficult life.
So these doodles are for all of us who find ‘real life’ a little difficult. This is for you my love, my beautiful love.
I didn’t know I had the gift of listening. I didn’t know I had the gift of waiting. These were revealed to me at a later stage of my life. But the listening is such a part of me that when I acknowledge its existence it slinks away and hides again. Because I’ve always done it. And it adds a layer of tension to me that manifests itself in anxiety and all the friends of anxiety.
I hear footsteps outside and realise I’m listening. Who is that are they coming to my house is it the post man. A split second of listening……and waiting.
The quiet rattle of the clothes dryer as my husband tries to take a t-shirt off the radiator in another room. I shout out “they’re not dry yet”, “what aren’t?” he replies. “Those t-shirts on that radiator”. How did I know what he was doing? Because I was listening and I didn’t even know I did it. But it had revealed itself to me and for that brief moment my life made a kind of sense. There was a kind of calm and understanding of myself and my world, that was then swept away and hidden again as it was absorbed back into me.
I hate the listening. I want it to go away. But it never will. It will live with me forever.
It was forged in me as a child who had no control over her world. Just as I had no control over the curly hair I inherited or my need to make art.
The listening and the waiting were outside my control but in the control of parents whose behaviour frightened me and whose behaviour I had no hope of understanding. And it sounds worse than it was. I was not abused sexually or physically, apart from the hands of a builder slapping me on the back of my thigh as I ran upstairs. I had a good life of provision and foreign holidays. We were well off and had standing in our community. But that listening and waiting have forged for me a life of waiting, for the thunderous stomp of the builder up the stairs to wait for that thigh slap. That has led to a life of waiting for circumstances beyond my control to manifest into something more than they are.
The listening and the waiting have created in me a life of anxiety, depression, self-medication by alcohol and a belief in my own invisibility that means I cannot see the greatness of my actions or the greatness of my skills. I am 58 years old.
The void of your presence is hauntingly oppressive. I am learning new skills to pass the hours of my days. The paintings I have created certainly are not of museum quality but they do their part to distract my trials. At our first meeting I considered of you as not being just another patient, but a divine creation and missing fragment that ensured my absolute jubilation.
Strolling along the banks of the River, delivers such sweet memory. I close my eyes and feel the coolness of the river water as it fell upon the base of my neck when you drenched the cherries in the waters before you fed them to my lips.
Fruits of season enveloped by towering fingers,
The next drop gathering to descend lingers,
Shadowing leaves flutter reaching to greet autumn,
Remnants of cherry seed navigate to River’s bottom.
A River of granite that meets the mighty sea,
Flowing in memory of enchantment spent with Thee,
No better days than these are in my life,
None better, only the day that I become your wife.
For what reason you have departed from my existence is not mine to question. Perhaps the place that you now stand is free from social demand. If so, then when I rejoin you I shall take one knee. Preserve your love for me as you await my arrival into eternity.
From now until forever,
Your adoring caregiver