Wednesday, October 16, 2019

My life is nothing but room for you, I said.

The words from Kurt Vonnegut's novel Mother Night
has been following me around for weeks.
The book is not at all about motherhood, but the sentence
My life is nothing but room for you resonates deeply in me and
feels like it says it all, with only a few words, about being a mother.
He who turned out to be Cassius lived behind my ribcage and so far
remains the only one who's heard my heart beating from the inside.
I had insane morning sickness all hours of the day for three months
and that was followed by a virus. Pityriasis Rosea.
Also, roughly Mountain ridge Rose in my mother tongue.
Sounds like a serene coolheaded flower, but it put my skin on fire.
I held my fists clenched for months not to scratch and
counted down the weeks that was estimated left for the
venomously red roses to bloom on pale winter skin;
from delicate collarbone to hips slowly widening, in his name.

He came to us on a Sunday, in a room cloud high.
Rain hung there, it was all a swollen grey coulisses right
outside the large windows where candles burned still,
for what felt like infinity. Seagulls flew in circles and I floated.

Floated on my back in the warm water
as if that too could go on infinitely. Floated with my left fist
clenched around my fiance's hands and my right around my sister's.
My own mother's words along my spine.

You have to be able to float, Hannah.
Swimming is good too..
but most of all you have to be able to float.
To float is to surrender. Float first. Then love.
That's what she said. One cannot exist without the other.
Now we share a room. A spacious one that opens on to backyards,
winding old fire-escapes and our wild little garden.
We have our large bed and his small one.
I turn the generous paper lamp on in the evenings.
It's got the wrong switch and needs an extra plug and this
makes its light flicker as if were it a giant lit candle.
Christian reads Winnie the Pooh with that voice I fell for
before we had even met and we all slumber together, close.
Only later do we lift Cassius over to his bed and pull the baldachin
around him, his little bed and around sleep itself (as if its own being).

I have no doubts where nothing hurts.
That's my most safe room as a mother. That I don't
think much about how things are 'supposed to be', or
how others do it, as long as it works for us.
As long as it stays afloat.
Lovemaking there's always room for.
My calm I think is his most safe room.
My melancholy, my worry, that I try to be honest about,
as long as he asks or listens. He's afraid of the dark.
We walk slowly through the long hallway after brushing our teeth.
I hold him and we don't turn any of the lights on.
His face is close to mine when I say that these are the
same rooms, just without the light.

My life is nothing but room for you.

The space he occupies can never be reclaimed.
Not when he's away either. My worry is in that, the sadness
of missing space, that there's not really time for it all.
That I can't quite find the way back to the rooms of my own.
Something tells me though, just as I put it into words,
that it's the word and thought of back to that has to go.

I can't go back. I can only try to create new room
inside of the life we have now. It will have to be in a home
a bit more worn, be in between wider hips,
eyes more tired and sentences only semifinished.
I had to listen to myself. It's the same rooms.
Just in a different light.
I think to myself that that's what it's like with the biggest,
enduring loves of our lives. They occupy all rooms and we are
never again the same as before. And then all is as it shall.


Friday, October 4, 2019

Half of summer was naked, and all of her was uncomplicated.
When July and August were busy with other things, he stopped wearing nappies,
just like that. Now I find that there is something about
minimal underwear that moves me immeasurably.
I buy them in organic cotton, silk and wool as if our lives
hung on delicate and unbleached thread.   

When no one is looking I untack the tickets in the back
with my sharp little embroidery scissors. The one that looks
like a golden bird and that never sees any action other than the
setting free of labels. When my sisters and I were growing up, my
mamma rid every garment of every tag. That or she turned
pieces inside out. Now I find the oddest things are handed down thru
the generations. Like the matter of nothing being allowed to itch.

When no one is looking, we talk about his days.
There are now moments that are only his and how they seem to him.
Jimmy wasn't at the nursing home today. Where has he gone..? 
Once a week, his nursery group walks to the nursing home on the same street.
The youngest and the oldest play the piano together and tell each other stories.
They cut and create hero masks from vibrant paper. Cassius's hero and
favourite is Jimmy since first they met. We look at each other across
the table, we that are supposed to be the grownups.
Who kissed Jimmy goodbye..? is essentially what I'm thinking.
Cassius muses on, out loud.

  If I get really old, then I will die. 


I don't like that part.

 That's when I hope my fear of death will not be a hand-me-down.
So I stay silent, and Christian is the one who tells, unbothered, his version
of what comes after you die. Tells about the Big Party in the Sky.
When no one is looking, that's what I'll be conquering,
the belief that that's where we are going. To the biggest party of all,
everlasting, together. Afterwards. This minute I'm mostly
trying to look brave, and I also try averting with looking a gulp of
red wine straight in the eye. But that's when they do see me. My family.

When no one is looking, I study my hands.
If Cassius asks about them, they are created by the sun,
when I read them to myself, they are age. There's no decoding of
those spots or of the space between them, but in his world {or is it in mine..?}
I want to stay being the Sun for a bit longer, rather than its spots.
I want to be the strong that holds his safe.
My flaws I can show him. But not of what is only skin deep.

When no one is looking, or at least not seeing, I dig my
fingernails deeply into the insides of my palms at the feeling of
not having a single soul listening quietly to the end of my sentences.

When no one is looking, tears from the feeling of failing
breaks away from me in the cold section of the grocery store
as Cassius refuses to come with me and instead squat stubbornly
looking at plastic toothbrushes that look like temperamental monsters.
I smooth the gloom away, fretted, with the back of my index fingers.

When no one is looking, we dance slowly in the kitchen,
the three of us in a sheltered embrace, Cassius resting on an arm each in
between us, faces held close, mumbling I love you in our own chorus.

When no one is looking, I stroke my own cheek.
'Yes, Mother. 
I can see that you are flawed. You have not hidden it.
That is your greatest gift to me.'

- Alice Walker

no1 | linen 'bucket hat' from okounger
no2, 4 & 5 | natural necklace made from 'raw' matt amber
{i don't know if it's from constantly wearing that but over this summer
he was the only one without a single mosquito bite} - also okounger
no4 & 5, 6 & 7 | 'nikkou' trousers from illoura the label
no6, 7 & 8 | 'shell pillows' from tamar mogendorff


Thursday, September 26, 2019

I collect photographs for printing and think to myself,
I loved the oat milk. The smoothness, somewhat sweet. In a
kitchen, bread; crisp crust from a warm oven, the family moves
in circles, raising their glasses. A boy in a kimono,
I stroke, safeguarding the loveliness. We speak of things
we usually don't. Truths that used to be as if impossibly heavy
old family portraits are now raised with ease and gather
as if children's drawings on organic paper, put up without a plan by tiny
shimmering studs, in sheer sheets all over our thin walls.

Breakfast-tables that seem to be forever set,
always someone lingering with a book as the large french press
empties coffee in delicate little cups. Candles burning down, disappearing
into the hour after hour of glowing in balmy shade
inside thick stone walls, the sun burning all at once outside of them.
Bathing sylphlike in inland lakes with porous floors and in a clawfoot tub so
heavy I'm afraid it's gonna drop through old wooden boards, divulge white foam,
us and milky water down into unfamiliar underground rooms.  
Someone says that August is when their real New Year's transpire.
I don't give that much thought until September comes.
Not till then do I think about S u m m e r.
The boundless supersensible, the one on naked and free foot.  
Misted up mobile phones forgotten amongst moist beach towels,
slumber roughly as the moon shows up pale or the sun turns too searing.
What and where the time is we've misplaced somewhere on a June day
and July is estimated only in the moments between baby skin & more
sunblock and curls calling for detangling. Only come
September do I think about time at all.
Moreover that now another time arises.

I keep collecting the photographs for printing.
I have more everyday instants captured since summer began
than ever before. One day they'll remind me of something.
For all one knows I won't be able to put my finger on it by then,
perhaps I'll stroke them, safeguarding the loveliness.

photo no1 | cassius is wearing mini kimono from bonét et bonét
photo no2 | best all-natural baby bottle ever, made of glass & natural rubber
{I wish I had found these when first we needed baby bottles and
now I'm telling everyone} - from baby quoddle
photo no3, 5, 7 & 9 | 'pepijin' pyjama from liilu
photo no4 | swaddle from bonét et bonét hung up to sieve the light
in the beautiful house of christina, where we stayed a while
{see more, stunning, photos from her house here should you wish}
photo no8 | cassius's combs made of natural horn that doesn't
break the hair are from bonét et bonét
photo no 12, 13 & 15 | the long nightshirt and the softest
corduroy pyjama are also from bonét et bonét
photo no11 | the straw hats, from okounger, wandered from
head to head all summer long