Past Forward – dVerse


I cannot do this
I cannot do this
I cannot do this
That’s what I want to say.
I am full of making the best of it,
overflowing with doing the right thing,
drowning in putting on a presentable face.
I can feel my lungs bursting
as I inhale the Vesuvius, the Niagra of emotions
roiling underneath this envelope of skin.
I wish I could vomit them up
I would enjoy the acid green bile
as it sluiced between my teeth.
I am no more blemished than any other woman of my age,
I am not comparing the events of my recent life
with the tales of others and presenting my trump card
or – God forbid! – the Joker,
(This is no laughing matter, after all).
I just want you to know that
for once in my life,
there is no schedule, no timetable
(and in any case, since when does public transport
EVER run to time?).
The list of destinations,
the horizontal flow of 24-hour clock times from left to right
is pinned vertically to the bus-stop wall –
such a mistake you see
to expect such things as
shock, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression & ACCEPTANCE
to follow some rigid plan,
and I am such a fool to be surprised when they slide down the shiny paper, a jumble of letters
and numbers, soggy with tears and snot.
I’m not crazy.
I haven’t lost my mind.
But there is a limit to carrying on,
to bearing the burden of being the replica,
to losing your own identity
in favour of the one who left without even a backward glance.
So now, one year down the line from that early morning call
I choose to re-model me in my own image,
I choose to seek what makes me different
rather than what brands me as ‘the same as’.
Mostly, I have done what is expected,
mostly, that has been a burden self-imposed
to honour someone I knew better after death.
That’s OK, hands up, I accept I made that choice – kind of.
But know this.
I cannot do that
I cannot do that
I cannot do that


This week, on dVerse Poetics, Marina Sofia has asked us to write about shattering and rebuilding. What shatters our world, how do we rebuild it? Drink, faith, drugs, self-belief?


The timing couldn’t be more… perfect/imperfect.

Tomorrow it will be a year since my Dad had a devastating stroke, from which he never recovered. He died 12 days later. So this is kind of a tough time.

But I have decided to take part because poetry, writing in general, has been a catharsis, and so it continues. I think we all feel that, don’t we?

Please pop over to dVerse to read some excellent poems on this theme – there will be lots of deep digging, I know it. Join in – we don’t bite!



51 thoughts on “Past Forward – dVerse

  1. Sorry to dig up painful memories for you, Freya – and thank you so much for participating nevertheless. The repetition works perfectly here and is incredibly poignant.

    1. Thank you, Marina. To be honest, the memories have been very close to the surface anyway, and you certainly don’t need to apologise. And it is very good to write it out.

  2. hugs and sorry for the loss of your dad… it is painful if we cannot be who we are for whatever reason – and it is worth walking that path to find us and in that are a blessing to those around us

    1. Thank you, Claudia. It has been a challenging year in more and different ways than I expected. Funny that my Mum struggled with the same kind of loss of identity too, since her own mother died when she was very young. She understands what it’s like, which helps.

  3. It has been 47 years since the first anniversary of my mother’s death, succumbing to uterine cancer at 39; & I assure you the pain flows & ebbs, and the damnedest things trigger the them both. I do so agree that poetry is cathartic, as well as joyful, rife with as much pain as it has sunshine; thank the universe Freya writes, for us, & for herself.

    1. Glenn, I am so sorry you lost your mother so young – what a terrible loss. Yes, I expect the pain to flow and ebb and for it to hit at the strangest times. I know my dad would be proud of all the writing I am doing, since he wrote creatively too. Thank you so much for your kindness.

  4. i am sorry for your loss…and that it took his death for you to get to know him better….and to make decisions for yourself to find your way out of it…you will continue to grow stronger because of it…

    1. Thank you, Brian. Life is weird and wonderful, in all its highs and lows. Everything is still unreal, and I guess the futility is wanting things to go back to ‘normal’ since the new normal will not be the same as the old.

  5. Oh yes.. and having reading your writing through most of this time I must say I admire your process. it’s so visible in your words.. still an anniversary is always an anniversary,, so take care.. and capturing this new self must be the best way forward.. Love this poem, one of my favorites from you.

    1. Yes, I realised today at work that it’s nonsensical expecting how I am now to be the same as I was. I think it wold be unnatural to not change – and every now and again, the changes are good ones. Thank you so much for the compliment.

  6. Sorry for your loss. It’s so fresh-one year. It took me four years to feel normal. My dad passed away six years ago. I feel you.

  7. BRAVO! Freya. Yes, yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. Manners, politeness, good girl, hold it in, suck it up, be a sport, do the right thing…and what is the right thing!!????? What you say here!

    The right thing is to ditch it, be yourself, surround yourself with those who understand and wave goodbye to those who don’t. It’s hard to do, hard to find the job that fulfills with a staff you love, hard to be unique in a rubberstampiing world – but you did it. Stand proud. That’s the way to forge a new womanhood for all of us! Great poem.

    1. Thank you so much, Gay. May ‘civilised’ cultures just don’t know how to deal with grief. The worst (to me) is silence, because people don’t know what to say. Silly – ‘I’m so sorry’ is enough!

  8. This is very a very raw and moving write, Freya. I always feel an anniversary is a landmark in the mourning process and we realize we have moved forward more than we had anticipated we would or thought we could. Premature death forces us to reassess what is trivial and what is important in our lives, and hopefully helps us make the right choices.

  9. I am sorry for your loss Freya ~ I agree with you that writing is cathartic ~ These lines resonated with me:

    But there is a limit to carrying on,
    to bearing the burden of being the replica

    Good for you to find your voice ~

  10. I completely relate to the “I cannot do this” stage. Two of my children have severe and chronic illness, which at times forced me to the brink. Funnily, thankfully, I found that I always “could.”

  11. I read this as totally cathartic, rant-like. I worked with death and dying most of my nursing career and the first year anniversaries are so hard…they all are hard. It’s so good that you let yourself write this and put it all out there.

  12. You know Freya as I read this I knew it was your dad you were writing about. You miss him very much I am aware of. But every time I get the feeling of the great love you have for him which in a wonderful place to be, and though you say you cannot I am sure you do and can.

  13. Such a real and from-the-heart write, Freya. You hit my heart with it. I so know about being stoic, doing what’s expected……….I so get the I cannot do this….and love the change at the end to I cannot do that….any more. Blessings on this difficult anniversary. Remember, your dad wants happiness for you. I’ll bet he’s proud of you!

  14. This is very intense and emotional. I love the progression here, the contrast between the first “I cannot do this” to the last “I cannot do that”. I can only imagine the pain you are going through and I know that reality is much more than I can think of. I wish you strength and courage and joy amidst all your tears.

  15. I think with time the anniversaries become less painful and you are so lucky to be able to write as a release for the pain of your loss….a brave and open write, Freya

  16. totally agree………… My first love left me……. i didnt know then but some time later I came to know he died without even saying good bye……… I moved on and Got married….. But when I come to know about this It felt so hard………. I still cant accept and I wish I could just go into the past and see what happened to him and how did it all happen and he hided everything from me so that I could be happy…………… I still have tears thinking about it…….. Didnt even see him in the end………….. I still hope one day I will just barge into him and see him come alive ……………………

  17. so sorry for your loss…it’s good that all the words have poured out of you…they deeply touch us…..wish you lots of happiness and strength …very nice write Freya…

  18. Beautiful. I can really feel the release of emotions here. I hope that poetry can help you in this journey of grief and healing. It helped me a little.

  19. I’ve lost both parents and I can say, no matter how old we are – we feel like orphans when we lose a parent. I think that the person you are daring to be is just right. And as a father of daughters – I can say how proud that makes a father feel.

  20. This is such a raw piece…filled with emotions that run the gamut. And, in the end you choose to BE…

    We often don’t know our parents until after they have died. We find snippets of information, or hear this or that.

    I remember my mother telling me when her mother died (her father had died, her sisters had died), that she felt like an orphan. I thought at the time, decades ago, that she was being dramatic. She wasn’t.

    When she died almost ten years ago (my father had been gone 44 years), I totally understood, and remembered her words.

    1. Yes, I have heard others say the same, and I did worry a great deal about what if my mum died, what if my step-dad died soon, then what? Completely irrational, but that’s what grief does to you – and irrational doesn’t mean wrong. Just because you are an adult, doesn’t mean that the word ‘orphan’ doesn’t apply. Thank you.

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