Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Elegy on the Things We Never Knew

for my fellow adoptees

Don’t try and keep the past alive: it’s long
since dead. Place a sign around its neck:
Do not resuscitate. Burn photographs
you never had, whose faces you will never see.
Inter home movies which you never watched
in some dark, silent tomb marked Not For Me.
The Christmas cards, the birthday presents, none
of which were bought or sent, the family jokes
you never heard, the memories you never shared,
the holidays you never took, the homes
in which you never slept, the promises
you never made, or tried to keep, or never kept,
the loving words which went unsaid, the absent hands
which never touched a single hair upon
your precious head; and all the things that never were
and all the things that might have been: take them all!
and drown them in the ocean of your grief.

Do not look forward yet: the future is
as unknown as the past you never knew.
Instead, be here. Breathe. Live. Love. Laugh. Don’t stop.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Say It

Reality includes your current mood, any bricks in your house and whatever clothes you are now wearing, unless you are in the shower, in which case, reality is naked.

Reality is the pencil which I am now holding in my hand and without which I would not be able to describe reality.

Reality is my wife wryly saying, ‘You are quite... focused, shall we say,’ as this pencil does its little word dance across the pages of my notebook.

Repeatedly saying the word ‘reality’ will lead to semantic saturation, thus draining reality of all meaning.

Reality, reality, reality: reality; reality; reality; reality.

Reality, reality, reality; reality, reality reality.

Reality? Reality!

Reality, reality, reality – reality, reality, reality – reality, reality, reality.

Reality. Reality.

Reality...realityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityvrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityreality realityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityrealityreality.................................................................................................................................................................................................

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Words Which Have Never Shared a Line Before

I think that I can safely say                      
That spanner, quack and Mandalay
Have yet to share a line of verse,
(Along with jam-tart, laugh and hearse).
Like kitten, fear, hooray and brother,
Some words just avoid each other.
It breaks poetic etiquette
For radiator, sky, baguette,
Banana, gun, sarong and whine
To share the same poetic line.
How odd: these words which were estranged,
Have thus, forever, been arranged.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Boarding School Birthday Treats

For my 11th Birthday, dearest Mama sent me a pair of sarcastic socks. Inside was a Snoopy card in which she had written:

There’s no need to be so upset. Other people have to put up with far worse.
We will see you in a couple of months,
Your ever-absent Mother.
p.s. Your father is furious with you

For my 12th Birthday, I received an irate face from Matron, interrupting my rubbery toast birthday breakfast.  Your mother phoned and is very angry. She wants to know why you haven’t sent her a thank you letter yet. Before I’d had a chance to ask for further clarification – thanking her for what, etc. – I was given 100 lines: I must write thank you letters to my parents. I did write 100 lines but can’t say what the line was for fear of offending the sensitive reader, but it might have been something along the lines of Matron is a paedophile enabling cunt. Fortunately, Matron did not ask for the lines as she was very forgetful, a serendipitous side-effect of her raging and impressive alcoholism.  

For my 13th Birthday, I was in hospital after a freak accident severed two of the fingers on my right-hand. 23 stitches, two weeks, and no visits later I was sent back to school, where I was given a letter from my mother.

Still no thank you letter. There’s nothing wrong with your left hand, though, is there?

For my 14th Birthday, I received a parcel wrapped in crumpled festive paper. A message was written on it: To Evelyn, Happy Christmas! Lots of love from ..... and........... x

You don’t mind second-hand wrapping paper, do you? said M when I saw her a couple of months later. She then commanded me to kneel down while she asked me why I hadn’t written a thank you letter to her brother. The next bit’s somewhat pretentious, so if you skip ahead to my 15th Birthday I won’t be offended. A flower blossomed behind my eyes. It was a weird little flower: small and clear and weird. Very much like a teardrop. Teardrops weren’t allowed, though, so it must have been a flower. See what I mean? Pretentious.

For my 15th birthday, I forget her name, but she sent me a broken tape-recorder. In a cardboard box. The card read:

Things don’t always have to be perfect, you know, and some of us are too busy buying houses to wrap things up.
We will see you in two months.
Your ever-absent Mother.
p.s. Your father is very upset with you

For my 16th Birthday, I received a telephone call from my father, which I took in Fr Paedophile’s unventilated study, cosy with the smell of old vests and stale paedophile farts. Welcome to the capitalist society, he said. I have opened a Lloyds Bank account for you. I told him to fuck off, and left the telephone dangling.

It was unnecessarily rude of you to be so ungrateful he said when I saw him a couple of months later.
I don’t know where he gets it from chipped in the other one.
It’s always the way with adopted children, isn’t it? they said. We should have realised.