To arms – dVerse Quadrille Monday

electricity_junction_box_with_birmingham_coat_of_arms_-_andy_mabbett_-_02

“Push the door, just a little

and stride into the unknown beyond,”

my brave heart urges, insistent, strong.

I shake my head, in time with my quivering hands,

fight-flight pushing and pulling me

every-which-way.

I think I want to cower.

But I go.

Forward.


 

It’s time for the dVerse Quadrille Monday, where this week Victoria invites us to wrote on the theme of ‘open’ in any manner we choose, as long as we use the quadrille form.

The picture above is the coat of arms for Birmingham (UK), the city of my birth. The lady on the left is holding a book and an artist’s palette, representing art, and the man on the left is a blacksmith, representing industry. It gives me a feeling of strength and determination, very much how the people of Birmingham were, and how I see them (us) still.

I’ve been taking a little breather from writing to regroup, and it’s good to ease myself back in with a quadrille, a form I really enjoy writing in.

Please do head on over to dVerse to read… and take part – why not?

The Man Who… dVerse Poetics – Character Study

IMG_1480

The man who took me on
as part of the deal
The man who never once
made me feel –

in the way,
unwanted, not cared for

The man who carved lanterns
for Halloween fun
The man who made theatres
and allowed me to run –

matters off-stage,
free reign, made miniature

The man who was there, quiet
in my background
The man who loved me
as if he had found –

my small heart
and held it, so gently

A man who I love
admire and respect
A man who I hope
will only reflect –

that he fashioned a good life
for a daughter, pre-made

From the bottom of my heart
For the man who…


Today over on dVerse, our guest host Walter Wojtanik asks us to write about the character or characters who have influenced our lives – the good, the bad, and maybe the ugly. Whoever and however they may be, he invites us to write about them. Why not pop over and see what Walter has to say, and take part?

I first posted the poem above back in November 2013, and I am unashamedly recycling it, because this particular man, my step-dad, has been a rock for our entire family, never making me, his only step-child, feel anything other than his. He never treated me differently to my brother and sister, has never done anything other than be my parent, and a wonderful one at that. When I wrote this poem, I was 5 months down the line from losing my dad. it was a horrible, horrible time. Little did I know that whilst all that was going on, my step-dad was going through some really tough health problems, which were very hard for my mum as well. She and he have pulled through it – they are a strong and tough act. I admire them both greatly, love them dearly and count myself lucky to have them both in my life.

By the way, the photo above is a small part of my parents’ garden… 🙂

Tikvah

IMG_2822

There I was just standing there, when what I wanted to do was forbidden.

I wished I had more strength, wished I was more brave, wished I had the strength of my grandmother. Even now I could feel her downy cheek on mine as she had grasped the back of my neck with her surprisingly strong fingers, pressing her lips to my ear.

“Don’t let them break you, Esther. Do what is right.” She had kissed my forehead, the remnants of the perfume she always wore enveloping me in its warm familiarity.

They had dragged her away, a useless old woman, of no benefit, just a drain on finite resources. Dispensable.

I had hated them for that more than anything else. It burned in my chest. And yet…

I stared through the hole in the wall at the shop across the street, a street alien to me now even though it was only a moment away from where we lived. It was brightly lit, swarming with gaily dressed people like so many butterflies dancing above a wildflower meadow. The smell of freshly baked bread teased my nostrils and my stomach yawed and ached with hunger.

“If you don’t take chances,” said the man in the striped pajamas,”you might as well not be alive.”

I had seen him many times before, crouching in the gutter, holding his hand out for anything that a passer by might press into his cracked palm. I doubted he had the strength to stand. Every time we met, I tried to give him something that could be spared without Mutti noticing.

He was leaning against the wall, legs shaking with the effort. “Don’t be like me. Don’t let them break you.”

The words echoed bell-like.

“You have a child?” he asked, his voice barely a croak.

“Yes.”

He beckoned me towards him, pulling me close with surprising strength, whispering in my ear.

“Let me distract them when the gate opens. Get food for your child, for you. Survive.”

The gates were creaking open, the lorry was entering, my heart was thumping. I had to decide, had to decide now. He pushed me away, towards the gate.

“Do it!” he hissed, the potential for his last good deed setting his eyes aflame. “You have half an hour and then they will be back. Do what you must. Do what is right!.”

I remembered my grandmother, the way she lit the candles on Erev Shabbat, the flames illuminating her eyes.

I nodded and ran. I didn’t look back, not even when the bullets ricocheted off the walls, not even when jackboots rang on the cobbles, not even when I heard him scream.

He had just been standing there, and still fought back.

There was still tikvah.