I am not an overly emotional person. Or more correctly, I hadn’t used to be. My stroke left me with what is politely termed ‘emotional lability.’ It meant that I cried a lot, at things that weren’t remotely sad. This has calmed down. I still occasionally cry unexpectedly but this is becoming more infrequent and I handle it with more grace.
Yet at the time, it caused me real hardship. I had myriad thoughts and fears rolling round my head. I needed to talk to people, family, friends, but I couldn’t get the words out without crying. The thoughts stayed trapped in my head.
Then I found a way to get them out. I wrote about them. I started just scribbling a few lines on scraps of paper, then hiding them away. I moved up to trying my hand at writing poems. And eventually I became brave enough to share them with others.
What if I had never seen again
flames flickering in the night at Samhain,
fat seals in the sun, snorting water,
chill morning mist, eerie, drifting,
sleepy-sweet bedtime smiles?
What if I had never heard again
the mellow in my daughters’ harmonies,
the drums and bells of morris men,
dark echoes of thunder rolling by,
the cat meowing welcome?
What if I had never smelled again
white lilac waving fragrance in the air,
beckoning chips, hot, fresh fried in lard,
dark earth breathing wholesome after rain,
motorbikes’ angry engines?
What if I had never tasted again
sweat trickling off lips under summer sun,
butter dripping off bread, well toasted,
greasy lamb with mint, well roasted,
dark red-wine coated kisses?
What if I had never felt again
a lover’s hand soothing my aching back,
the prickly softness of his fresh cut,
the stickiness of tiny hands,
hugs of love holding me tight?
How did I set about writing this? I was struggling at the time with the fear of dying. You are more likely to have another stroke in the year after the first one, and I had so much that I wanted to do before it was my time. I started to think about what dying would mean – it was a physical cessation of my senses, so my poem is broken into verses addressing sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
Then I thought of the things I would miss most; I made a list of my favourite things, and things that meant a lot in my life. My poem is really just this list made pretty.
Why am I telling you all this? The Pagan Federation has a scheme where we can share our writing – the Disabled Pagan Voices Project. The aim is to give a voice to people with disabilities in the Pagan Community. I will tell you more about it next week.
So till next week, give it some thought. What tales do you have to tell?
Written by Portland Jones, PF Disabilities Liaison for the Midlands