Cold, dead and dark.


 
I sew with limited visibility, trusting that my thread will be led the old-fashioned way by the abundance of natural flame dancing before me in an old jar, long shadows flickering across the table’s surface like spiders legs and winter branches or ageing crone feet.

Icy, cold: it makes for poor physical company, channelling chills into my palms and fingers, up my arms and into my head and neck each time I let my limbs connect. Like my mother with her carefully painted face and colour-coded outfits, it’s all for show. Behind the veil, inside… it’s a different story; cold, dead and dark.

by Rebecca L. Atherton


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Like my dog, I like to hide inside blankets…


 
If I wasn’t afraid, I would run home now, pack a modest bag, grab my passport and head for the airport. Scanning the boards, I would pick a hemisphere, a climate, a culture, then confidently stride up to the information desk and push across my savings, knowing, as I did, I was making a commitment and honouring a contract.

But I am afraid: so my desire to travel is suppressed, along with my yearning for learning and adventure.

Playing it safe, my life curls into a ball: minimum challenge, limited contact. And while it doesn’t alarm me overly much, it doesn’t really excite me either.

Waking from a nightmare last night, I am full of agitation. Abandoned by my friends, left alone in a strange location which they, when they were here, trashed, my day is haunted by flashbacks. I feel nervous and scared too, too scared even to dig for the message my inner me wishes me to know.

All around me there are signs. Every day I am presented with options and choices of things I might do if I were brave enough and every day I shy away, fearing the consequences of standing up. And while I speak my truth and honour my feelings, never withholding even when speaking out might at times appear unkind: it is not enough.

I was born with an inner yearning to not be here. On earth I have never felt at home and I long for the peace that I know I used to have. In meditation and sleep I find it but like a drug the effects are short-lived. So I hang out with people who will leave me, seeking others who will let me down, knowing that because this is a repeating pattern, they will take everything I have.

by Rebecca L. Atherton


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Miscellaneous


 
A bent pin,
rainbow thread,
burnt umber:
stitching today.

A fly bothering me.
Cleaning my whiskers.
Remembering that men can be kind.

by Rebecca L. Atherton


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Collateral Damage

 

Clouds hug the buildings above her head, oppressive in their proximity. Smoke permeates the air from a shop that has caught fire across the street.

Yesterday it rained hard enough for branches to fall from the trees and washing that had dried to become wet.

Today the sun is out and even though it hasn’t yet escaped the clouds, there is the promise of heat.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Dilemma

image
 
At 40 degrees,
the temperature is oppressive.

Standing in the pool,
lengths requiring more
than I can willingly recall,

I wonder whether I ought to
sink or swim?

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Rhyme or reason


 
The season swells and bodies used to winter turn pink then red, taking over streets that were previously empty. I learn to avoid the old town and it’s narrow alleyways, the parade of shops, the line of restaurants and cafés. Life changes; my routine evolves and I embrace summer as I could not those colder months, when my body tight and defensive.

And then my cacti die, deserting me suddenly at a time when I need more than anything to feel like a mother. And even though I switch my attention to candles and crystals, which can only melt or crack, they do not fill the gap that life has created.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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An indeterminate or undefined place or state

Something strange is happening. When I am quiet, I feel it: a slight discomfort in my solar plexus, a hollow dent in my heart; distant rumblings from a far off place: a place I once lived in, perhaps..? And it’s a gift – this strange something happening, this happening of something strange – requiring thought and introspection, time and space, permission, surrender, effort, work… I yawn: already I am tired. I also wonder… “will I pass; will I be good enough or brave or strong enough?” Expectation sends me inward – head over foot, arms tightly wrapped around. It’s like time has sped up or continued to move without me, creating worlds in my absence, deleting countries in my sleep, causing things that were small and insignificant to grow ripe carrying things that were old and no longer significant along with them in order for them too to be changed.

And now there is this new life growing inside of this old life, this already mostly grown life that to me has always remained the same, forcing me to accommodate shifts in accepting and seeing, trusting and believing, feeling and making, baking, creating… along with an awareness that in a not-so-very-far-off ‘away’, there will be this arrival of this presence that was not and now is, transforming everything that then happens in thousands of ways.

Spreading its essence like the roots of a tree; touching and growing into pieces of her and pieces of me, pieces of them and pieces of us… it will become interweaved, one of the same, and from that moment on there will be no separation – no it without her, her without it – and the person I knew and spent time with, still occasionally spend time with, will be indelibly tied and chained, never to be seen as an alone or an independent separate self again.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Inroads

Pulling, cutting, carving.
Holes in pale white skin.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Lend your arms

image

Lord,

My heart aches and feels hollow. Inside, there is such grief. Please lend me your arms to hide in in my hour of need. And after, you shoulders to hold my fears. And then your lap, like a basket, to cradle my tears.

Help me to let go of all that is trapped and broken, to fix it piece by piece. Help me to confront all that I am afraid of and in doing so find peace.

Open my eyes to beauty, my soul to sound. Awaken all my senses to the world that surrounds.

Guide me towards a better outlook and quality of life: one that is still and centred, and free from strife.

Show me how to release the past so that I might move on. Show me how to embrace the future so that I can belong.

Turn my attention inward, away from material things. Give me the strength to allow the feelings introspection brings.

Let me love myself as I love others. Let me myself forgive. Show me how to receive as well as how to live.

Love me like a father, guide me like a sage; stand by me as I walk into a future of knowledge and age.

Teach me to live freely. Permit me to yearn. And when the void beckons, help me to learn.

Give me roots to stand on and branches to stretch. Give me buds to nurture and seeds to collect.

Give me leaves to shed and flowers to release. Give me water to drink and air to breathe.

Give me birdsong to dance to and company to share. Give me shade in darkness and space in air.

Give me peace in body and comfort in mind. Give me strength in soul so that I might find the land that I dream of, the people I miss, the place that I belong to and the purpose of this.

Amen

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Yellow rose petals


I dream of school and find myself in a classroom, attempting to recall a language I used to know. Later, I stub my toe and although it is not hard enough to break it, it is enough to turn it black.

I don’t leave the flat and spend the morning being gentle – dusting, sweeping, tidying… and in-between I get more done than I have in months of going out.

If I were a bird, I would spread my wings and fly away. Human, I try to unpack my suitcase – endeavouring, at least for now, to embrace the place where I am stuck.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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