‘Do adults still say nasty things about me?’
‘I don’t know. Not to me, but I don’t see them anymore.’
‘Remember when XXX’s Mum said she wasn’t allowed to play with me anymore?’
‘Yes. I do. She was always very supportive. To our faces.’
‘Why don’t you like XXX anymore?’
‘Well, she said some horrible things about trans kids.’
‘What did she say?’
‘I don’t want to tell you. It’ll upset you.’
‘No it won’t. Tell me.’
‘OK. She implied that if you shared a room at a residential you would rape your room-mate.’
‘I’m sorry. It’s not true. Obviously.’
‘You’re also 11 years old!’
‘I can’t say the word I want to say. So I’m just going to mouth it.’
‘Sorry, love. I do try to keep you away from all this sort of stuff.’
The sun came out and
we were allowed to have people over in the garden and
they could be from another local authority area and
I made gluten free vegan brownies and
the kids played with nerf guns and
I hate toy guns and
I didn’t care and
I made tea and
Mr HB made coffee and
we bitched about stuff and
we did the crossword together and
we laughed and
we looked at the tadpoles and
the tadpoles are getting bigger and
they are moving around more too and
kids all played really well together and
later on we went down to the river and
it is really beautiful here and
today it is cloudy again and
I feel tired but it’s the good sort of tired and
I am so lucky to have had such a lovely day.
Given my poetry pamphlet is now sold out (thank you to everyone who bought a copy), I thought I would record the poems for my much-neglected YouTube channel. Here is a transcript of the first one,
Quickened pain, surprising me
out of all birth plans
and breathing techniques
and the crickets of the TENS
machine crawling up my back.
I had woken early
completed the lists:
paired socks, as my pelvis
pentangled like pulled knitting.
And all too soon
the burn, the squeeze, the heft
was beyond unbearable
you released –
a tide of meaning
into the world.
My last born.
Completing this compost
Never forget how you came:
child of mine.
Never be afraid to labour, and
never push down pain to places you cannot feel it.
My paternal grandmother will be 100 this year. My mother died 13 years ago. My father, in a blend of grieving his wife and tending to his mother, has taken to giving his children pieces of family significance with every visit. At some point, he gave me a sugar bowl my grandmother purchased when she visited my parents shortly after my birth.
It’s a piece of pink English pottery. It is painted with a pastoral scene. It was once broken and glued back together, although one small piece was never found, so there is a small chip in the unlikely place of the middle of the bowl. I use the sugar bowl daily, although it doesn’t technically contain sugar. I say technically because I use a sugar substitute. Not everything my father hands off to us is quite as appreciated.
What is so holy about the blood from a womb?
And am I then, a non-woman, an un-woman? For tabletting these days away with modern medicine we are meant to feel guilty about, because Christianity, because feminized fish?
Because I wear my hair short, never wear a dress flowing red or black, because I do not limit women to cis white sock robots, because I include my trans sisters and my enby siblings, because the patriarchy is delighted when we police each other’s clotted tampons.
When we accidently leave out those who have had hysterectomies over hysteria of a battered woman who needs a shelter, who was never a man in the first place.
All humans bleed. Some more than your soaked gusset, your baby-home-nest clear out. Your curse does not give you the right to cast legislation over others.
It won’t be long now – I know, I’ve done nothing but whine about them being home. Now I’m sort of wondering if I’ll look back on home-learning with a tear in my eye. Like this lunchtime, I thought, ‘this is one of the last lunches you’ll have together in term time, isn’t that sad?’ My kids, however, are nothing if not reliable. Within five minutes they were screaming at each other about something screen-related, I assume. Which I won’t miss AT ALL. It’s been awful and exhausting – I never thought my children would cry daily after babyhood was over. At that same time, I’ve loved slowing down with them, focussing on them above everything else, getting right into what they are into (Star Dew Valley rules btw). I’ll wave them off joyfully but I wouldn’t give this time back, either.
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow…
My sister Becky quoted this line (on Zoom, of course. Where else do we talk these days?) as ‘very Christmas 2020.’
Some of us muddled-through before this year: I myself started muddling-through around 2004.
The festive season can become rigid: we always go to this house, we always eat this meal with these people, we watch this film, listen to this music. I’m so sorry if your set pieces are not possible this year.
Maybe we can use this time to think about our Christmas days. Perhaps we’ll go back to our set pieces next year, joyfully. Perhaps we’ll make new traditions that serve us better.
Meanwhile, as an official muddle-representative, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all new muddlers, est. 2020.
tinylife will be back on 17 January.
Back to normal.
Back to normal by the Spring, they’re saying.
And most of me is delighted,
don’t get me wrong,
I’m in no rush to succumb to a deadly virus,
or bury a loved one,
and I miss the few friends I have left,
and I want to eat cake at Naked Bakery
and wander around Edinburgh again
and visit my sisters
(so I can argue with them face to face instead of online)
and talk to poets
and listen to their poems.
But I’m also thinking
‘what do I want to keep
of this not-normal?’
This slowing-down, even further,
staying in touch only with those that matter,
making things accessible to those who are always home,
no duty events
sloughing off those expectations
– it’s time we visited, we haven’t been for ages –
being home, Saturday, Sunday.
When it rains, the cat is always outraged.
He comes into the office, where I am working, and meows loudly at me. At first I wonder whether he has been fed (of course he has been fed), and then I stroke him and realise he’s been out in the rain again. Oh dear.
Up he jumps onto the desk. I make sure he stays on Mr HB’s side with his muddy paws. After prowling around a bit so that I know he’s there, it’s onto some serious washing, using his teeth to pull the dirt from his claws, licking his paws to wash his face, fluffing back up into a dry cat. Brown prints all over the song lyrics he’s lying on, eyes still wide and angry, twisting his tummy up for a stroke.
That’s all really. Just – my cat.
windy – wild