Soft as soft and unassuming seemed the day you stole away. And I wondered: are transitions merely ghosts, spectres, unreal reality? The hoover softly purring on the carpet like a cat with much to do, pondering sleepily if those things can be left for another day. It was just another Saturday. The day after Friday, and the one before Sunday – or so it seemed at the time. So Saturday morning chores filled the moments and as I vacuumed vacantly, the sun shining through lace-adorned windows, my thoughts popped in and out like uninvited guests mimicking the movement of my arm as if stroking an imaginary pet.
And yet, when the telephone rang, I knew before I answered it what I would hear. I wasn’t surprised, not in the least. I had been preparing for this call for longer than I can remember. I cast my mind back and pictured us on a sandy beach with you just out of reach and felt the pang of loss. That holiday was our first and last: the grandmother, the mother, and the child – three generations together, linked by our own expression of what it meant to be family. The path we had trodden to get to the other side now blocked by the greedy, irascible sea, at first calm, luring us closer, now raging higher, threatened to prevent us from going any further. There was no alternative but to climb the steep incline or be drowned, and so mercifully we were spared. But even as we climbed,
the threat of loss hovered on that occasion, just as it did when the telephone rang.
“I think you should come straight away”, the voice was calm and caring.
“Is she …?” The words fell away. Why was I asking? I already knew the answer.
“No”, the voice said. But I knew this was an acceptable twist of the truth. We both knew – better to travel in hope. Silently, I thanked the voice realising that compassion is not a liar.
So, softly you left on a Saturday.
~ Marie Williams – April 2018
barrels, contained, fear of living, freedom, letting go, mental freedom, metaphor, not recognising freedom when it comes, rain, relationships, self-knowledge, waiting for certain conditons to be put in place before living your life
As usual we were not prepared. But that was our way and this is not to say that our actions lacked forethought in any way, but that we had become so accustomed to the way things were, we knew only what we knew and that had been sufficient in its own way to deal with the vicissitudes of life. Strife was rife, and though the battle ground was real, the laughter that we shared, became a place where we could safely repair our armour, sharpen our wits as well as our spears to dent the onslaught of fears which like flood waters burst their dam and threatened to strike more often than we would have liked.
We plotted and planned, planned and plotted, dotted the ‘I’s and crossed the ‘T’s, and in our dreams subjected ourselves to living a life of constant ease. When the rain comes we said, things would be different. A life well-spent was our intent and bent on this and very little else, we kept an eye on the gathering storm clouds and would not allow the passage of time to dampen our resolve. We learned to make do with the drought and thought we ought to place our barrels in a place where when the rain came, not a drop would be lost. We bought enough barrels and damn the cost – what price our hopes and dreams?
When the rain came, so entrenched were we, we failed to see the raindrops. We did not hear the pitter-patter of freedom drumming on the window panes. And it pains me now to say that we did not fling the doors open wide and dance unreservedly upon the thirst-ridden earth now slowly, thankfully, surrendering to the watery saviour, releasing all that was bound and giving life anew.
~ Marie Williams – 2017
I have watched you for a while
I feel I know what makes you smile
I’ve cast around in the deep,
deep places before I sleep
And I’m convinced I know
And of this I’m sure
It’s the laughing brook
Where first we took
Some time to unravel
(Our footsteps crunching on the gravel)
The mysteries surrounding us
What lays hidden in the dust?
You and I can never be sure
And search we might for ever more
But this I know and cannot deny
That all that’s hidden will come to light
And that’s what makes you smile my love
The mysteries hidden in heaven above
And the laughing brook
Where first we took
Those faltering steps
And our hearts leapt
Whispers gently all the while
That is what makes you smile
~ Marie Williams – 2017
NB: clicking on the image gives a more enchanting view.
Casting around, the shadows lay
like dead men searching and asking why?
Why now when clarity prevails
and the jigsaw puzzle fits perfectly:
The pieces have come together
just like I knew they would
But there is now no time to appreciate
the jewels that I scraped from the sullen earth
Dug so deep, plucking each one
As if my life depended thereon
Earth’s reluctance to give them up
knowing it was not theirs to keep
Ah, this life, this life
Now dark, then light, and dark again
Fatal Attraction’s Glenn Close style
light switch flickering illuminating the way
Making night day, as Puccini plays
And the stars came down one by one
leaving the moon to guide me home:
And I find the journey has only just begun
~ Marie Williams – 2017
The past was nearly always tense. The future seldom perfect. Life became a sentence imprisoning subject and predicate: which often times were punctuated by dashes, question marks and ellipses …
The full-stops when they came were soft and sudden. They crept up slowly behind, blocking the way, preventing progress of any kind and making the escape route barely visible: an abrupt pin-prick in a confusing world.
Clear and present danger alleviated, those dots and dashes now form the much longed for and welcome SOS signalling pathways, prising open those prison bars, and like innocent inmates – embracing freedom – make a dash for the exit vowing to colonise the state of freedom.
~ Marie Williams – 2017
Why do some memories make more of an impact than others? Do empty houses make more noise and if they do, how do the noises sound to you? Are they kind, loving and inviting or are they the exact opposite and do they make you feel lost, alone and fearful?
I remember as a child of about 11 or 12 years old an incident which pops into my mind regularly even though it happened many years ago and if truth be told it was nothing major. By that I mean that nothing actually happened and that was what was so fascinating about it: nothing happened. Yet that nothing happening is a source of intrigue for me.
It was a summer’s day. It was around 4:00pm and it was a very ordinary day. School was over for the day. I had changed out of my school uniform and into a skirt and a blouse. The skirt was blue and was several inches above my knee and the blouse was loose and white. I was fashionably dressed for the time: mini-skirts were ‘in’ and although it wasn’t technically a ‘mini-skirt’, I had made it so by rolling it up several times so that there was a thick belt of material around my waist. But you couldn’t see that, because my long blouse hid it.
On arriving home from school, my father was in the kitchen cooking the evening meal. He found he had run out of an ingredient and asked me to go to the corner shop to get it. I willingly obliged. I was at the age where I wanted to show off my newly-improvised mini-skirt and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. I was so innocent.
The corner shop was only a few minutes away from home and to get there I had to walk down a street two streets away from where I lived. The street in question had houses which were mostly inhabited, but at the top of the road were about three or four empty houses. They were rather dilapidated and the windows were broken and I guess it wouldn’t take much brute force to enter any of them through the front door if you were so inclined.
As I turned the corner into (let’s call it) Kempton Road, there were a group of eight to ten boys playing. They were aged between 10 to say, 15 or 16. They usually collected there of an evening to play football or cricket depending on a whim. I had seen them there so often that they posed no threat and had many times walked by them to get to the corner shop. If they weren’t playing games, they would sit on the walls of the empty houses, in smaller groups chatting and laughing amongst themselves.
This particular day as I turned the corner they were in the middle of the road, talking loudly and playing. One of the boys called me over. I did not go. I kept walking as if I had not heard them and I wasn’t afraid or disturbed in any way. However, this same boy called again and again, and probably frustrated by his inability to get my attention and not wanting to look small in front of his playmates, he ran towards me and grabbed my arm. I was now afraid. Several others came to his aid and all I could see were arms pulling at my arms and clothing and dragging me towards the empty houses at the top of the street.
I struggled but I could see that I did not stand a chance. Whatever was in store for me was going to happen whether or not I tried to defend myself. I resigned myself to my fate, whatever that was going to be.
‘Let her go!’ A voice called out. Blindly I looked on. I could not see who had called out.
‘I said, let her go!’ The voice said again even more forcefully and with authority.
The boy who had grabbed me first released me first, followed quickly by the others who had followed his lead.
I took the opportunity to walk as fast as I could away from them and never walked down that road with the empty houses again on my own. To this day, I can’t remember what the young man who was part of the group looked like and blind with fear, I don’t think it would have registered anyway.
But all I know is that I’m thankful to him. Nothing happened because he spoke up. And because empty houses cannot speak I do not know what their story would have been had he not spoken up for me that day.
~ Marie Williams – 2017
LOVE IS LIKE THE SEA
Love is like the sea
There are hidden depths
You never know how deep it is
If you only stick your toe in
Just think how much more
We have yet to discover –
Let’s jump in!
Romantic love can be
A source of pleasure and of pain
You have to let your spirit reign
With majesty yet humbly
In order to gain
The greatest gift humans can share –
Come on, let’s swim away!
And now we’re floating, like a boat
And now we’re diving – water in my throat
But that’s just how it is and will always be
Sometimes floating like a dream
Other times we want to choke
Unless we go for broke
And stroke this crazy emotion – we’ll be left standing on the shore!
© Copyright – Marie Williams – April 2009
Love is like the Sea
Why do we seek approval? Should we pay for it, and how much should we pay? Is it cost effective, and if it is not why do we urgently seek it out, and if it is, why is it that it seems that there is not enough of it to go around? Approval, how about we strike it from the dictionary completely and see if it is missed, and then contemplate the lives that have been affected by this word, a word which in itself begs for the very thing it may deny others.
As soon as we are born, although we do not know it, are not aware of it, we become the subject of approval: to be thought well of, commend, authorise, so the definition says, and that stays with us, weaving its way through our lives, lives depending on it, lives failing by it, lives denied by it, lives controlled by it, lives foiled by it, lives sadly wiped out by it.
We require approval from our parents from a very early age, and at that stage it makes us feel. Feelings and approval: cousins, sisters, brothers, it cannot be denied, these two are related and like siblings, first cousins, step children, they do not always get along. They tussle, they squabble, they fight, they vie for parental affection, believing that they are the first among equals. But sadly this is not so, because as we know, no parent loves one sibling more than the other. Or so they lead us to believe. But we know, approval tells us so!
Later on, when we are older, bolder, approval hangs around like a boulder: huge, solid, unmovable, it dictates the way we should go. Approved of, we feel nurtured, loved and accepted. Disapproval on the other hand, based on faulty premises, leaves us feeling like orphans, un-loved, un-accepted, lacking, unseen, in some cases, guilty and ashamed.
We need approval. It appears to be essential for a life well lived. But in order to live a life with no regrets, the only approval worth investing in, is the approval we give ourselves. Let’s keep that word in the dictionary and approve its existence but with the proviso that it includes not only approval from others, but above all approval from ourselves for ourselves in order to live our best life.
~Marie Williams 2016