from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

prose poems from guest contributors: 3 Betina Kerstin Lundholt

Today's pieces are from Danish contributor Betina Kerstin Lundholt. I like the way they move between the personal and the global, their compassion, and their delicacy.

Betina is a scientist and a mother, among other roles, and these prose poems were written, with others, as observations of daily life over a few weeks.

Time for bed I repeat, but you insist. I want to make the Russian flag you say, and I immediately think of plane crashes and try to convince you to do otherwise. No, the Russian you say and then we start working in the sleeping kitchen collecting pearls. Red, blue and white. We finish the Russian flag and I carefully place it on the shelf in memory of the Russians that vanished in the sky of Sinai.

Then we sit in darkness at the kitchen table. You still refuse to go to bed and I listen to the sound of your persistent playing with a finger skateboard. I wake up as my head drops and notice your sleeping silhouette wrapped in my Balinese sarong covering you in protective blue salamanders. I dip in and out of sleep, remember the tears in your eyes as I left this morning, your sadness as I found you in the gym behind the door, the bruises on your cheek from ice-skating, and your pride turning up at the garden gate walking home on your own for the first time.

Drowsy I get up and walk you to your bed. In the living room, your LEGO has invaded the dinner table. Amputated figures spread all over waiting for someone to heal them. You wouldn’t let go of them tonight, wouldn’t talk to me, kept me at distance building fire dragons and swamp monsters.  Well, you did sing too in the most lovable homemade English. Finally, you are in your sleep snoring gently, probably a bit amputated too from resisting the quakes of the day.

They are five. Five noisy youngsters and they sit in front of us. You are pale. Your eyes frightened. I take your hand, suggest you listen to music. Alert, you refuse. Two of them start to argue, loudly. I consider. Consider reminding them about the kids in the bus, but I am vigilant too and try to keep calm while you squeeze my hand. At last, they leave the bus and the colour rushes back into your beautiful face. I turn my face, merge with the darkness, and think of all the orphans crossing Europe with no hands to squeeze.

Back home you make dinner for us, so dedicated and proud. Even play the guitar, sing while I clean the kitchen and shame on me for not enjoying that moment. All I do is ask you to get ready for bed. At bedtime you ask me about who you are, wonder about not being you, but being someone else not knowing of you. You are so beautiful, almost ten. Sometimes a tiny kid almost a toddler then suddenly preteen trying my mascara and high-heeled boots. Now, I stare at portraits of you from school and see you differently, while you bloom in your dreams.

The snowstorm has laid down the hedge. It’s eight o’clock Sunday morning, still snowing, and you want to go sledging. We put on winter jackets on top of pyjamas and start by bringing the privet back to life. Hard work for strong girls and then we go for a sledge walk in heavy sleet. Snowflakes quickly cover your hair, you laugh towards the white sky, thrilled. Back, it feels good to have a place called home, to get breakfast, tea, and warm cheeks again.

© Betina Kerstin Lundholt

1 comment:

  1. Very evocative, small glimpses of family life set against the wider world and all that implies. Thanks Roselle and Betina. Sarah Godwin


Blog Archive