This is a poem I posted recently in the Lockdown Literature group that I helped set up on Facebook. It was a good way of passing the time during our first period of lockdown and it’s great that people are still posting in it on a fairly regular basis. This was the first poem I’d posted there in a while.
It wasn’t a poem that I was going to post on my blog. I’ve tended to steer clear of anything too personal on here, but having sat down and read through the poem again, I wondered how relevant it would be to others. At the time of posting it in the group it didn’t have a title and I wasn’t sure it was finished. It was about growing up in our house, but on reflection I began to wonder just how normal the things I wrote about were. I grew up in a house where shouting and various kinds of tension felt almost constant and fairly normal. I hated it. When my parents argued I felt like I was waiting for the inevitable to happen and for one of them to announce that they were leaving. Or I worried about whatever other terrible end it might have. It felt like nothing ever got talked about or discussed; everything was a battle. And not just with my parents; with my sister, with my grandmother…wow, especially with my grandmother! But adult life has taught me that maybe it wasn’t all that rare. Maybe that is just how family life can be sometimes.
As I mentioned, it’s not something I really like to write about, or at least post where it’s so visible, but having revised the poem a little bit and revised my thinking about it too, I thought I’d post and see what people think.
Mam and dad fought; to keep food on the table, to keep a roof above our heads, to stay together. So maybe there was nothing left in them to fill a home with love. Maybe being there when they could was enough. In a lucid moment, in quiet, in solitude I think I understand that now, have sort of come to terms with it, am almost at peace with it. But while it's easy to say let go of the past, it's impossible not to always be reminded of the impact that it's had. The damage that it's done. Dealing with what it left behind, picking up the phone more often and enjoying the life you have while it's still there still present a knot to be unpicked by stone cold fingers. Maybe a nod, a smile, an isolated cuddle and the odd word of encouragement was all the energy they had left. Maybe it works both ways. Maybe we're all just like this. Maybe there's a lesson to be learned.
A funny one this. I still don’t think it’s finished. I’m still not entirely happy with it and I still think it will be revisited. It’s a slightly different poem to the one that appeared in that Facebook group and definitely one that’s changed in mood with the tweaks that have been made.
The poem still hasn’t got a title. I wondered about calling it ‘Maybe’ but that word was only added in this second draft, so it didn’t quite feel right. Maybe I’ll revisit the subject matter, but not the poem itself. Maybe, like the subject matter, the poem just needs to left. As I said earlier, it’s a funny one.
As ever, feel free to leave a comment as I’m always interested to hear what people think. I’m never entirely sure when it comes to poems, but this one has really stopped me and made me think.