Life and Work

Climbing the Stairs

When we first arrived back in England from South Africa,
we had two small children and a plan.

My husband was going to stop work and write full time.
That was what he wanted to do.
I was going to go back to work after seven years with the children;
back to the bright corridors of academia or to the stage;
to my beloved enchanted theatre.
That was what I wanted to do.

We rented a house in the country and got to work.

Until I discovered I was pregnant.
And misery ensued.
No work for me; no writing for him.

But .. we would have come through it, I’m sure..
thought of something
some way

The real disaster struck when I lost the baby
which, when I lost it,
suddenly and terribly became a baby
one of my children

I knew it was my fault; it left me because I didn’t want it.
However illogical that thought was
– if only for millions of women throughout history it was that easy!- it stuck.
And so did I.

The moment I realised how stuck
was when I was going up the stairs
with a basket of washing
and I stopped moving.
I sat on the step and I could not get up.
Would not get up.

Until the family came home and found me.

The gap between intention and action is will.
Where there is no will,
there is no action.

Depression is not just crying in a corner;
depression is slipping a small cog in a wheel which renders you
literally un-able to do anything to help yourself;
you need to move; you know how to; but you can’t
want to.

Now, when it strikes me again, I am prepared.
I have a small emergency kit.
My box of tricks.

Get out before you can’t;
Even if it is just to push a trolley down the silicon alleys of Sainsbury’s
where the dead food stacks the shelves.

Watch a film; read a book;

Buy something online;
clothes to hang on this temporary frame of mine
which persuade me I am not yet one of those naked skeletons clanking into the dark..

Sometimes life gives you what you need, out of the blue;

Warm words on the phone; in an email; in a text..
a cheery whatsapp..
a knock on the door..

Head bent over the piano as the notes,
Pure, precise, passionate as water,
Flood the air with light.

Most of all, that hinge swinging open in the mind; a way into the woods..
girl in a white dress
under a night sky thronged with vampires;
lantern light in a stable;
lit festivity of food;
the worlds within that lure you out of your sorry self into another bewitching reality.

writing a poem will do it.

And the cog clicks back into place.

And you can climb the stairs.

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