If …

If she had known she was not to be in

pain, would her life have had the

breadth of more life? A freedom from bleak

thoughts that haunted and caught her mid-

breath? Would she, instead, have embraced her winter

waiting and watching as autumn leaves fell frosty

toward Earth with the lightest kiss of winds

lifting, transporting, as she softly made

her voyage from life to death without a moan …

© Liz Mackenzie

3 December 2017

Inspired by the Christmas carol “In the Bleak mid Winter” and the “Golden Shovel” approach to writing a poem

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To see you one more time

The good thing about being part of a creative writing group is the challenge to write ‘on the spot’. For me, this gives the chance to go with whatever first comes to mind within a specific theme. Today’s challenge was to write something starting with, “All I want for Christmas …”. I did go with my first thought but couldn’t read it out; too raw. I can, however, post it here.

All I want for Christmas is to see mum once more, and for last Christmas not to have been … the last. Would she speak with dementia wit after Christmas lunch with her party hat on and her plate empty? “What are you doing for Christmas, dear?”

Cheers, mum x

©️ Liz Mackenzie

Clustering 2

This is my 2nd piece written in response to a ‘clustering’ exercise. (See Snapshot Memories) I decided to use as many of the words from my cluster as possible.

FORGIVEN
”Its all a game to you,” I snap. “A joke, a play; me at the station, you on the train.”
My words bite, like car park crocodile teeth. I ache to lose my voice, to stop breathing fire like a dragon; to hold back time.
”Let’s go for lunch,” you say; “Sandwiches and Earl Grey Tea.”

And I know you’ve forgiven me, again.

©️ Liz Mackenzie

November 2017

Clustering

Today I learnt something new to inspire writing; clustering, which I can best describe as a ‘mind map’ leading out from a central word. The word for today was, “snap”, from which two memories emerged, linked by strawberries.

 

Snapshot Memories

 

“Gramma, strawbees”

Little legs pump by

Out the door

Down the garden.

 

He is two

And a half

With summer’s innocence

Red on his face.

 

I travel back

In time to see

Our dog barking

Leaping back and forth.

 

Yapping, yelping

What is it girl?

Dad’s wallet lies still

In the strawberry patch.

 

©️ Liz Mackenzie

23 November 2017

A thought for today

Sometimes, you’re offered a topic on which to write that is a challenge, a chore even; other times yet, a topic that, in one word, sees inspiration pouring from your veins. Today was the latter; at writing ‘class’ we were asked to consider the topic of ‘migration’ and 4 hours later I’ve already written 3 pieces; here’s one of them.

Migration 2

No one will object if I cross the border from England to Scotland, my spiritual home, much as my dad crossed from his homeland to England in the early 1950s. There will be no forms to complete, no nuances of language lost on my foreign mind. I will not have to prove ability to work, good health – mental or physical – or justify my rationale for this move. I will be one of many who traverse UK countries with the liberty of migrating birds, creating history’s footprints.

A line from a song enters my thoughts; those outspoken, proudly broad-accented twin Proclaimers:
“We’re all Scotland’s story and we’re all worth the same.”
It tells, like Ellis Island, a winding, weaving tale of migration; it speaks of hardships and struggle to reach a destination, lay down roots.

I return to thoughts of my dad, alive yet stripped of speech and movement. I watch Andy Stewart with him on YouTube; another song, a different yarn. This one touches my heart like a single tear; the soldier who longs to return to the “hills of home”. In dad’s eyes, I see that yearning, the knowledge of what will never now be, and we don’t need words …

© Liz MacKenzie
9 November 2017

If you want to hear/watch the two songs on YouTube, the links are below.

Walking in the steps of others

When I visit Aberdeen, I am at home though I have never lived there. At the beach, I see my lovely dad, imagine his steps in the sand. This was a place he loved but will sadly never visit again since he had a massive stroke in 2015. I wonder what it is like never to go home again.

 

At the Falls of Feugh I imagine dad, mum, Jean, Myra and Betty (my dad’s sisters and my aunts). I gasp at the rush of the water and the bellow of emotion, of disbelief that only Jean and dad remain – the oldest and the youngest of the clan.

 

At The Ashvale Restaurant, I think of the last time I was there with Jean. She was walking with a stick by then but still spritely. When we came out of the restaurant the plan had been to catch the bus back to her flat but she got going and decided she’d walk, after all. I picture her getting going, her little legs hurtling along as if she wouldn’t stop.

I go to Bagels and Stuff; it is just round the corner from Thistle Court where my aunts lived. There are so many memories of Thistle Court, yet Bagels and Stuff is my own memory supplanted when all seemed impossible. I feel comfortable there; the staff know my order and that is immeasurably reassuring.

Aberdeen: The Granite City. Union Street continues to bustle along. My favourite clock ticks and turns if not quite in time; I wait beneath it for the soldiers to start twirling to the tune of Magic Roundabout.

Every step, tread, pace, stride, I am there behind one of my relations; stepping where they have surely been, treading their memories, pacing to the sound of their voices, striding to their tune. Today I feel it as sharply as the brisk walk of my aunt heading jauntily across Union Street, before Union Square had been conceived. I am with them all; I am home.

“Home: the place where one lives permanently”.  Though maybe I, like the salmon at Feugh, return by instinct to the place I feel safe, I belong.

© Liz MacKenzie

Can I do a Flop Flip?

This week, in the creative writing class, our Tutor talked about the fact that, in the English language, we automatically use the terms flip flop, drip drop, and so on, rather than placing them the other way round – i.e. flop flip, drop drip, tock tick… The BBC referred to it as the I-A-O rule – I before A, before O. This got me thinking and inspired the following quick, tongue in cheek poem (though it does have a serious banknote). 

Flop Flip

Still I stand

While people Flop Flip

Opinions

Offering up

Divergent views.

 

Turn, I turn

While silken Drop Drip

Cascades

Rinsing off

Obsolete news.

 

Gentle I whir

While children Down Up

Run and play

Chasing and kicking

Off shoes.

 

You don’t want

A nuclear site.

You make banners

And bemoan

Your plight.

Yet still you

Flop Flip

Drop Drip

Down Up

My harmless flight.

 

Not In My Back Yard?

 

© Liz MacKenzie