Molly misses you, . . . whoever you are..

molly

On a walk through town with Aluta and Tillie, I saw a young man chasing a dog and calling after her ‘Molly!  Molly!’  But Molly was off like a flash and I watched as I saw the distance between man and dog grow longer and longer.

Fast forward twenty minutes or so, and my girl dogs and I are only a short distance from home, when who should we see dodging out of traffic, but the very same Molly.  Thinking surely her owner must still be searching for her, I took Tillie’s lead off and put it on Molly and brought her back to my place.  I phoned the local animal protection people to see if anyone had called looking for her. Nothing yet.  I left my details and Molly’s description with them and did the same with the local dog warden.  Meanwhile we wait.

I am anxious about Molly.  Molly is anxious as well.  This is not her home and she just stares at the back gait, refusing nibbles and water.  What happens if no one comes forward to claim her?  I cannot keep another dog.  Apart from living in a rented property, where two dogs is a generous concession on the part of my landlord, I am struggling like mad just to feed myself and dogs I have.  I cannot afford another pet.  So what happens?  Do I just open the back gate and leave it to Molly to find her way back to her people?  If I did that I’d worry endlessly that she’d come to harm in the traffic.  Do I surrender her to the local animal shelter?  They’re surely over-full of stray and abandoned pets as it is and won’t likely have room.  The dog warden is out of the question.  I am fully aware that if I were to do that and she was not claimed within the week, she’d be put down.

Meanwhile, Molly still stares at the gate in the back garden.

My here and now resolve is as follows.  Molly will remain my house/garden guest for today.  I will take her out walking with Tillie this evening in the direction where I first encountered her.  Perhaps she’ll be spotted, or will lead us in the direction of her home.  Someone is bound to turn up for her.  She’s a sweet, well looked after dog, and she’s missing her people.

Update:  Molly (who is actually, ‘Dolly’)  has been claimed!  We are ALL relieved.

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The dark haired poet

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She’s been writing all morning.  She has a story niggling at the back of her curly head . . . Something about knee caps and shards of broken glass . . . a re-imagining of another (true, sad, painful, personal) story she heard once before.  A story told, in hushed confidence, by someone she dearly loved and sorely misses.  And though her heavy paw has hovered above the keyboard since she rose this morning, she cannot compose that first sentence.

She experiments with different styles; stream of consciousness, prose, iambic pentameter, free-verse … she tries a haiku.  Delete, delete, delete them all.  She grunts and closes her eyes for a minute.  She runs downstairs for her kitty-cat egg timer.  She sets it for five minutes and free-writes.  Here is what she comes up with:

I’madogwhocan’tsit still.  There’s a cat onmywindowsill.  Mommytookasleeping pill. Here is the page that I must fill.   Look! I found the space bar! I should be out chasing a car.  Broken glass Broken glass.  The ginger cat fell on his ass.  Broken glass.  Knee caps. Stop gaps.  Thin skin.  Embedded shards.  Permanent scars.  Symbols.  The dance of veils as  shards emerge through the years each representing a time and place locked away in her head.  It’s out. It’s examined.  It’s remembered, re-membered, removed and moved to that other place.  each time another shard, another moment.  a betrayal an argument a loss a replacement and she grows and grows and grows.  Like a puppy.  a Brown puppy. I was a brown puppy.  I’m getting off track. what about the glass?  the knee cap?  How did it happen. can women fly?  time does not.  How many minutes left.  Done.

She yawns and shakes out her curls.  The dark haired poet looks over what she’s written.  Perhaps a short nap, a ride in the car, a romp in the park, a poop on the grass will bring the story closer.  With her fat paw-pad, she presses ‘save’, then shuts down the computer.  She completes three circles at the foot of the bed and lies down.  Shiny shards of broken glass dancing inside her curly, dreaming head.

To the Library

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I don’t want to go out.  I force myself to go out. Otherwise I would keep myself sequestered in the (not really) safety of my little house, away from the imagined gaze of other people, the clatter inside my head of their (also imagined) judgement.  Since the loss — before the loss, really, but to a lesser extent — I stay indoors, obedient to a paranoia that fastens me; this nonsensical delusion that every element of pain, grief, guilt and confusion that I feel is somehow emblazoned in every movement I make, visible throughout the entire surface of my body, right down to the clothes I’m wearing.  But I force myself to go out.  In my anonymous dress, sensible shoes, and a crocheted pullover, too heavy for this weather, I tread, one heavy leg after the other, into town.

My destination is the library.  In the two years since I moved to this town, I’ve never visited the library.  I am not even entirely sure how to get there, but have a vague recollection that it’ s located somewhere near the opera house.  I walk up Roches Road, past St Peter’s Square … the air is so thick and hot.  My chest feels tight and I cannot determine if it’s the heavy weather or a low-level state of panic at finding myself out of my safety zone.  I turn left at St Peter’s Square and notice I’m going in the direction of the High Street — which I want to avoid — people there.  Don’t want to see people.  Midway, I find a small lane-way on the right.  I follow it.  There are shops and a small café along the right side of the lane, and a row of narrow Victorian era terrace houses to the left.  I’m intrigued  by the houses, imagining myself living on this tiny lane in one of those houses, so close to the town centre.  I do this often; look at houses on any given street and imagine myself chopping vegetables in the kitchen, my cat lounging on a nearby chair.  In these ‘other house’ lives, my world is colourful, cheerful, safe and serene — as if a simple change of venue would annul my hurts, regrets and this struggle to feel safe in the now.

The lane I travel  leads through to Mallin Street.  I walk past the opera house.  At the end of the street stands the library, a large, narrow, glass paneled structure, only recently built.  As I walk through the main entrance, my mouth goes dry.  My heart thumps wildly in my chest, my hands tingle and I feel my head begin to swim. I am scarcely inside the building when the panic completely overtakes me.  I turn around and hastily walk out the door.  Panting for breath, I hurry back past the opera house and towards the lane.

Everything appears slanted.  The sun seems unbearably bright.  As I carry on further, I notice a group of kittens skittering in and out through an iron gate. Curiosity gradually eclipses anxiety and I make my way towards the gate.  The kittens, obviously feral, scamper away to the thick undergrowth beyond the gate.  I peer inside and find the ruins of a Church surrounded by gravestones, some so worn down they could easily be mistaken for rocks, all partially hidden by tall weeds, brambles and lilacs in full, fragrant bloom.  In the catch of the gate, an absurdly shiny padlock hangs seductively open.  I lift the padlock off and hang it on the gate’s railing.  As I enter, cats and kittens scramble every which way, one hissing her displeasure at my trespassing, as she darts away with the others.

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I sit cross-legged among the weeds, taking slow, even breaths as my eyes scan over the church and across the graveyard.  Tears begin to roll down my face, but I do not fight them.  I simply allow them to fall.  The panic subsides, as does the shame that accompanies it.  I stay still and continue to slowly breathe.  Calm washes over me.  It seems so bitterly fitting that I should find solace among the ancient dead and feral cats.  Now calmer, I further take in my surroundings.  I curse myself for not having my camera.  So many wonderful captures to be had here; the shadows of leaning headstones, the play of light through the ruin’s arches. . . I make a silent vow to return early the following morning with my camera and a bit of cat food.  I find myself suddenly struck with feelings of gratitude.  I feel grateful for the courage that allowed me to venture out today; grateful for the heat of the sun on my skin; and grateful for the panic attack that brought me here to discover this place. As I rise to leave I silently thank the cats, the foliage and the dead below the ground for their hospitality.  I return the lock to the gate, pushing it upwards just enough to look secured, but not enough for the lock to catch.  Hopefully, it will still be accessible when I return in the morning.

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The Silent Months

leslie and heidi I have been reading (re-reading), Latifa al Zayyat’s The Search: Personal Papers; a fragmented autobiography spanning decades of her life.  The book comprises a series of false starts; sections that are left unfinished and unresolved, up until the last (completed) chapter that recounts her imprisonment under Sadat in the early 1970’s.  Her unfinished sections mark moments in her life unsettled and silenced by trauma; bereavement, her first imprisonment, marriage and divorce, Each of these silences are then picked up as the loose threads of her story that are finally incorporated in the prison narrative of her final chapter.

I revisited The Search because recently I’ve been trying to come to terms with and break a silence I have kept for the past five months since Leslie died. For five months I have scarcely left my home, except to walk the dogs or buy groceries.  I have scarcely spoken to another human being, but especially have not spoken to my family or my friends who knew me before Leslie died.  And the longer it continues, the harder it gets to make that first gesture of contact.  I do not talk. I do not write.  I just drift in silence from one day to the next.  I feel like three-quarters of who I am has been gouged out of me, and what is left is this muted shrieking that I dare not let out for fear it will swallow me completely.

I miss Leslie so much and I want to talk about her, because it’s Leslie that sticks in my throat; along with my grief.  My grief is not so hard to explain, really. My sister suddenly fell sick and died.  I am angry, shocked, sad, confused, guilty, in denial and I want her back.  That is grief in a nutshell.  I want to talk about Leslie, but I do not know to whom, and it does not help that I’ve erected this imaginary wall between myself and my family.  I think I have it in my head that they (particularly my mother, step mother and Leslie’s husband) have their own grief to contend with and for me to talk about mine feels somewhat self-indulgent.  Then, there’s the guilt I feel over my months of silence….

Today I Skyped with my son, Ian, for the first time in months.  I was nervous about it, but it was alright.  I think (I’m pretty sure) he understood how losing her has affected me.  I promised him I’d call his brothers, and I will.  Still, I struggle with reaching out, but I’ll try to push that anxiety aside and get on with it.  I think the time has come to bring down my wall and reconnect with my tribe.  This silence does me no favours.

On a more positive note, I am taking steps to care better for myself.  I’ve sworn off sugar, caffeine, cigarettes and various other evils — all of which I’ve done to ridiculous excess since Leslie died.  It dawned on me that destroying my body won’t bring her back to me, though it might hasten my joining her.  Instead I think it better to try to get stronger despite the grief, think of her, remember her and of course, talk about her.  I’ll probably be doing a lot of that.

 

 

A Open Letter to Ireland

Note to self: stop being a whiny bitch (at least in this respect)

unshavedmouse

 

Dear Whiny Bitches,

How’ve you been? I am good. Let’s talk about that recent survey. You know the one? Recently something called the Good Country Index released a survey stating that Ireland was the “best” country in the world. Now, there’s a been a lot of confusion on this so first of all let’s just clarify that the survey was not necessarily the best place in the world to live, the survey was actually trying to measure which countries contribute most to the welfare of humanity (in stuff like global aid, peace-keeping, diplomacy, fighting climate change and so on) and which countries are dragging everyone else down. Now, I’ll admit I was surprised that we got the number one spot, not stunned, but surprised. But sure, we do give a lot of money to overseas aid and we’ve been involved in UN Peacekeeping missions since the early sixties so…

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Happy Birthday, Grumpy Pants

Perhaps it is because I was born blue, refusing, without intervention, to breath, causing my poor mother to vomit into her own hair.  Or maybe it was my father recanting, year after year, the story of the first time he saw me, slick with my mother’s blood and amniotic goo — a sight he was not prepared for back in the days when a father’s role was to pace and smoke in the waiting lounge, and only later, to be presented with a freshly bathed, powered and swaddled little product of his loins.  At any rate, birthdays and I do not agree.  I dread them.  They seem predestined to follow one of three recurring themes, all ending, if not in horror, at the very least like a bad ‘date’ you never want to speak of or think about again.

Theme One: Illness

Whether it be tonsillitis, tooth ache, back spasms, or cancer, one will invariably land on, or linger through, my birthday roughly every three years.  Top prize goes to my nephrectomy (removal of kidney) in 2005.  To be fair, the surgery took place four days before my birthday, but the morphine-dazed hospitalization sailed right through it.  It’s a blur.

Theme Two: Trouble in Paradise

This theme only occurs when I’m in a romantic relationship, or, as sometimes happens, wishing I were not.  Ranging anywhere between a post-argument air of lingering, low-level hostility that hovers over the birthday dinner, to a full-blown, cataclysmic break-up, culminating in night of barbed text message, crying into the phone, until finally, swollen eyed and depleted, I fall into bed, hours before midnight.  Top prize for this theme goes to my thirtieth, where not only did we have the explosive break-up, but the police had to be called in to remove the jerk, who was outside attempting to deflate all my tyres.  Thankfully over the years, my attraction to high drama romances has diminished.  Nonetheless, the uncomfortably silent dinners abide.

Theme Three: I am Forgotten

This is the one where every birthday seems to vaguely follow the plot of ‘Sixteen Candles’.  It is also the most frequent of my recurring themes.  They often start out innocently enough.  Someone will remember it’s my birthday in the morning, but then, later in the day, forget all about it.  In this instance, recalling all the earlier nose-dive birthdays, I tend to just shrug it off and not remind anyone.  Classic example: my twenty-sixth, where it was decided the night before that I would meet my friend, Millie, for breakfast in the morning, then spend the evening knocking back free drinks at a row of dive bars near her house.  It was not long after ordering my morning coffee that I knew Millie had forgotten.  Over our plates of eggs over easy, hash browns and toast (ordered on separate checks – clue one), Millie regaled me with highlights from the night before, and her plans for her upcoming holiday in New York.  She was to fly out in three days.  Tight-lipped I listened, as she went over the details of her flights, what she would pack and all the sights she planned to see.  Suddenly, she sat up straight, ‘Oh, I almost forgot…’ as she fiddled inside her handbag, producing a set of two keys and a note of some kind…. For a sliver of a second, I allowed myself to believe that it was all a wind up and my birthday festivities were about to begin.  Instead, it was a list of instructions for feeding her cat and looking after her apartment — something I’d agreed to some weeks before, and of course, her spare keys for said apartment.  At the counter, we paid our (separate) checks, I hugged her goodbye and wished her a fabulous time in New York.  I did not remind her.

Today is my birthday.  Early acknowledgements are in, so I know it’s not forgotten.  I feel quite well today, so illness is not likely to mar the day.  I am romantically involved … so there is that….  My plan so far is to take the dogs for a walk in the woods, do a bit of reading, a bit of writing, perhaps some photography, then brace myself for whatever the evening brings.  Who knows? Could be grand. . .