letting go: the right time to die

kat-mcdonald-aged-2

i remember, as a child, everything being so tall… perhaps it’s my earliest memory.  i remember everything being above me… the dining room table… what was there?  the kitchen work surfaces… the bathroom sink, where i would struggle on tip-toes to wash my hands… the book case… the ceiling…  the shelves in my bedroom, stacked with toys, all just beyond my reach… and the sky… the Heavens… seemed so far away in both distance and time.

i remember walking through a forest of legs.  i remember my mother’s legs.  i remember holding onto them in places familiar and places new.  i would cling to them when i was scared, unsure or feeling lost amid the voices and conversations i was not yet old enough to comprehend…  lost, amid the cigarette smoke and the laughter and the music;  lost, in another world, an adult world,  a world i couldn’t fully feel at home in, but home it was.  i remember that with one stroke of my mother’s hand upon my head everything would feel better.  and i loved it when she sang to me.

i remember looking up at my mother, admiring her… how pretty i thought she looked with her hair curled and shining; her face smiling down at me with so much love in her eyes. love, tinged with sadness.

oh, i knew that she loved me. i knew that she cherished me because she told me that i was precious.  precious because 10 weeks before i was born, my mother lost a son.  a son called William, he was 18 years old.  he was just a boy. a beautiful young boy.  a boy that my mother said i looked like.

i remember looking up at a particular photograph.  i remember wondering why the boy in the photo made my mother cry and wondered if the reason she often cried when she held me was because of him, or me.  i remember, one day, taking that photograph and stuffing it face-down in a drawer.  i didn’t want my mother to be unhappy any more, and the boy in the photograph seemed to make her unhappy.  all of the time.

she went crazy, tearing open cupboards and drawers… then she found it.  she asked me why i put it ‘there‘…  i told her.  and, again, she cried.  it was then she told me the story of William: the brother i never knew.  the brother who she would, understandably, pine for for all her days.

time, forever the paradox, hushes that memory and that day seems so far away – in both time and distance.

today i went to visit her in hospital.  she is 90.  she is frail.  she is small.

today her eyes are still tinged with sadness, but they still teem with love when i walk in the room.

she is a shadow of her former self.  she is not eating and is barely drinking.  she is not well, neither physically nor mentally.  i wonder if she is just biding her time here with us. i wonder if she is simply tired of the struggle… tired of the pain… the loss and the hopelessness.  has she given in?  has she lost the will to continue on, in this cracked and useless mortal coil?

she tells me she’s done, yet she asks me if i’m happy.

“yes!!” i say… with resounding cheer in my voice.  “i am very happy.  the happiest i have ever been”

… and yet upon hearing the resignation in her voice, i am the saddest girl on Earth.

as i fold my arms around her bony frame, i am reminded of my own mortality and the cruelty of death and loss.  i feel like i am losing her and if i hold her too tightly, she may just disappear from me altogether and leave me in a blind panic.

a panic.  just like a time when i was a little girl, shopping with my mother and father, and losing her amid a strange, deep and dark forest of strangers’ legs and loud voices, and hideously patterned floor.  i remember looking… searching… frantic for my her, for her legs to cling to… for her hands to stroke my head… for her voice… that song in her voice.

i was lost.

at a loss, and lost – as i feel right now.

but today, i am taller.  my mind, still curious, is now awakened to the weird fairtytales that were once adult conversations.  the smoke has cleared and i’ve learned to dance to the music. i have found my voice and i have travelled to the other side of the world.  i no longer search for her legs to cling to and hide behind… oh… but what i wouldn’t give to be able to be a child again… for one day… to be, once again, with my able mother and have her hold me and tell me everything is going to be alright.

because it’s not…

… she isn’t going to get better.  her body is failing and her mind is permanently on vacation; it has a one-way ticket out of here.

i wish I could keep her here, now… or in that memory… but maybe i am not enough… maybe my brothers… her grandchildren… maybe a visit from her other daughter…?  or  maybe… maybe our family is not enough to keep her here.  i mean… how could it be? it’s incomplete.  someone is missing… someone vital… someone who could have sealed the cracks.

tonight, i stood tall and gazed up at the ceiling… there are cracks in the ceiling… some big, some small… many irreparable.  just like those memories of childhood, when i would gaze up in wonder.  the mystery is no longer a mystery.  the cracks no longer hold mystery;  she is no longer a mystery, but yet i marvel at how she managed to go on after such loss.  i know what she wants.  the cracks are beginning to show. they are deepening stress fractures from bearing such a load.  life. loss. death.  death of a son.  death of her parents.  death of her sisters and brother.  death of her husband and my father.  death of friends.  death of her able body.  death of hope.

but her mind is, strangely, liberated.  i take comfort in that.

sitting side by side on her hospital bed, haplessly covered with a stained blue blanket, we talk.  she tells me she’s done.  she tells me she is tired.  she tells me things that only her eyes can convey.

as a grown-up, i now understand. i get it. but oh it is hard to bear.  hard to hear.  hard to accept. but not hard to comprehend.

she is trapped inside ‘this useless body’ – she is imprisoned. imprisoned in ward 3.  imprisoned in her dementia and silent world.  it is no wonder she prefers to escape with sleep.  sleep ‘to pass the time until…’

‘until what, Mum?  elevenses? visiting hours?’ i ask, choking on my own throat.

[the big sle..?]

but her mind is on holiday, she changes direction, and once again i am that little girl lost.

so… should i patch up the ceiling… could i patch it up?  could i patch her up?  if only i could, yet i wonder…  if i should?  i feel as though i am losing her, little by little, crack by crack and splinter.

maybe i should let her go…  or have i lost her already?

 

(c) Kat McDonald 2017

 

 

 

 

Post-Brexit Thoughts from “An Immigrant”

Hello Followers and Casual Readers…

… I have to share this post written by a beautiful soul I have come to know through Social Media and mutual love of art and animals, floof and sweary words! I have not met the girl… YET… but I am working on it and I am confident that our paths will cross one fine day.
It saddens me to read this entry in her blog TetrisandCheesecakes because NOBODY should be made to feel like this. There is so much hatred in this world and we are all too quick to blame other outlets, such as mental health issues, media, peer-pressure blah blah blah… but really… the only person to blame for ignorance in the way we view and treat others is ourselves and our own blinkered ignorance.
I cannot abide racism. I cannot tolerate it and I will not turn a blind eye to it, but when a lovely girl, like Lucie, writes about the HELL that she has been through in her life only to be met with unfeeling and mindlessness by people in her circle of supposed ‘friends’ it is just too much to bear. NOBODY deserves to be treated like this. she is a human being. a wonderful, intelligent and caring human being.
please read this carefully and digest every word. she could be the girl next door, your brother’s girlfriend, your girlfriend, your daughter…. she’s a woman. a human being. being made to feel like an imposition, an inconvenience, an imposter, a freak, a taker, a faker… is completely immoral, unethical, cruel and ignorant.
next time you look at someone of colour, or converse with someone with a non-UK accent, please consider this: what is their backstory? they could be like Lucie. a good person, who fled from fear and certain death and control (something that privileged British white people cannot even begin to imagine) to a supposed better and safer life – only to be met with judgement, hatred and assumptions – is just insane. insane.
wake the fuck up, humans! #evolve

Tetris & (Cheese)cakes

The past few days haven’t been the easiest. I have seen so many stories of an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment, heartbreaking stories of families and schools being targeted by those who misguidedly thought a vote to leave the EU equalled sending all “foreigners” home. I may be unique amongst my friends as I do know people who voted “Leave” for reasons that didn’t include the immigration issue. They made the decision based on their own feelings and histories, and I really don’t want to detract from that. It’s tragic that though their personal reasons were not have racially motivated, their voices have now given credence to the racists and xenophobes in our country, who have taken their numbers as a sign that hate is justified. 52%. I really want to believe that 52% or Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland aren’t racists, and who want people like me to “go…

View original post 756 more words

soon…

soon

“soon….. x” he wrote.

“soon….. x”

 

[Oh the unquantifiable wait.
the undeniable weight.
oh the irrefutable beauty
of monosyllabic
poetry.

four letters. infinite variables. one critical
sum, happening in my head… quicker than
i can convey verbally
and i can be verbose.

soon = absolute x.

i was good at math
but you know that
don’t you?]

 

 

(c) Kat McDonald 2016

 

 

a psalm for the loveless

IMG_5386

there is comfort in clean sheets and the promise of “a good night’s sleep”. the allure of cool, crisp cotton beckons. the black ink of night fuels my scribe as i scratch across cheap paper in the dim of my lonely room. writing a song, in the dark, with a 5-string guitar, is cathartic. but there are too many distractions. my thoughts resolve back to the dead fox cub on the Standing Stanes Road and i sob,  my arms wrapped around Julio*,  my shoulders shaking. outside, the street lights shine like beacons for breaking hearts, insomniacs, poets and moths. someone is yelling. God knows what, but it’s 4.42am and the streets are already wet. the atonal hum of summer rain sounds like a song for the hopeless or a psalm for the loveless. a burgeoning hope, that tomorrow will be a brighter day.  the sea sounds so far away; weak, and diluted by this new precipitation. this time of calm is stirred by an itch in my [open] left palm. and, a ringing in my ears breaks my thoughts in Fmaj7.  i play along.  words fold and unfold and float by me, like soggy paper boats in my own sea of rambling.  i lay down and strum. sleep will come, easily.  songs often manifest in my dreams. there are six planets on their rise, elliptical. they are all visible with the naked eye, if you know where to look.  i close my eyes, put down the pen and close my book.  i hold on tight to Julio, in the absurd hope that he will sing me to sleep, as i pluck strings in harmony with the gentle peal of the wind chime above my head, as the palest breeze waxes lyrical.

[i don’t remember falling asleep, but i guess i must’ve………………….]

5 hours later, i find myself awake and Julio still asleep on the bed beside me.  quiet. there is paper and guitar picks everywhere.  my thoughts resolve to my lover, along the coast; i can still smell his scent in the tangled mess of my hair.

 

 

(c) Kat McDonald 2016

-for Robert – with you, i never feel loveless. i love you, like i was born to.

the bathwomb

IMG_4235

i like this place;
this space;
this calm…

i like to be enveloped
in the balm and
silken
fragrant warm.

to be cocooned,
away from time and traffic,
the chaos, the
havoc and
loud voices;
where choice is
simplified;
and silence,
amplified.

i do my best thinking
underwater,
here,
in the bathwomb.
’tis where i feel
most alive; where
i let go
of all that
blinds, binds and
reminds
me of the human error
hysteria
and
abject terror.
there are no false flags
here.
no fear, nor cruelty.

it’s quite simple, really.

 

Word & Image (c) Kat Mcdonald 2016

– another 10 minute prose exercise.

“Always be a poet, even in prose…” Baudelaire.

The other Robert.

a dark and seriously twisted tale of psychopathy…

… meet ‘THE OTHER ROBERT

Robert lives alone in a house with all the windows boarded up on both sides. Windows are bad. The lighting in the house is always dim and carefully positioned to avoid casting any shadows. S…

Source: The other Robert.

 

they

Ravens-by-Masahisha-Fukas-002

who are they?
who are these
old souls,
that walk among us,
clad in black feathers?

do you see them?
do you hear them?
because they speak to us,
in ancient
encrypted
dialects.

and they are watching,
waiting…
waiting for our Death.

and they speak of us.

corvid,
in cabbal and clique
they gather
to scold us:
yes.
to scold us for our own
trite flights
of fancy;
our sycophantic
fanciful worship
of false prophets.

they mock us,
laugh at our ineptitude,
our ignorance
and vapid existence.
Shhhh!
if you listen… you too
will hear them…
chattering among themselves-
hooded and
clandestine
in their plotting.

i see the way they look at us
with incisive intel
and devisive intent

but who can blame them?

we are lame.
cripple and incompetent.
our cognition,
dissonant.

i know we have failed,
as a race
we fell from grace
could this be their
coup de grâce?
but… here’s the caveat:

they never forget your face…

so you and i
try
to make this world a better place;
little by little
we whittle
and strive
to enhance this life
in this space
and time
we call ‘now’.

words (c) Kat McDonald 2016
lead image: from The Solitude of Ravens by Masahisa Fukase, taken before he sadly plunged into a coma…

the other image, found on Rebloggy – apologies for the name of photographer remaining unknown. damn you internet!!

the stains of holy water

it is time...

there is another world, down there, beneath
the surface and superfluous;
a world i spoil for,
to revisit time and again,
a world i crave.
it is a beautiful world;
when stripped
of the binding and bondage
of the humdrum
and the crowded mundane.
a vast expanse of golden desert,
where the mouth, dry with thirst,
seeks quenching;
where the temporal
and lumbosacral
dissolve, drenched
from fire and furnace
of desire;
where limbs become molten
and weak.
i seek
one sip from
that fountain.
it is a beautiful escape,
a flank of desert dunes
that shift
with each breath.

i want to lose myself
and all sense of time
and purpose
in this space
and feel the land
slide and arc
beneath me
as i fumble;
because here i could stumble,
blind,
for days
circling, crazed by
a thirsty daze.
i long to feel its silken sands
pass through my hands
and taste the salt
on parched lips.

it is time
to disappear from this world
and to make my
ephemeral pilgrimage
to this altar; to exalt
until exhausted,
to pray, idolatrous,
’til consciousness
is lost
amid the stars and the attars,
the incense and
the stains of holy water.
i have time to devote there,
are you ready, my love?

image (c) Kat McDonald Photography
words (c) Kat McDonald 2016

+ it is time, Robert…  are you coming?

Sirius

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

a cracked rib. a thorn in my side. [fuck!] seering pain. seeing stars. [don’t move, Kathryn… just close your eyes and breathe…]

i yearn for sleep. a sleep unbroken. the legs feel like sand, heavy; but head and hands are light as air.  the mind, coiled like a cobra in a basket. waiting. the imagination, untethered like a cloud, drifts eagerly above and beyond. the body, grounded, upon a bed of cotton and fur* but it may as well be a bed of nails. i cannot recall my last seven hour sleep. it has been weeks of dotted hours. the air i breathe is lilac to the touch.

prescription painkillers and a scribe are all i have in sight. they are all the entertainment i have tonight. this pain. driving me mad. but the visions are nice. my write hand, seemingly in zero-gravity, struggles to stay down upon the page. inside, i rage. i am invalid. the worst kind of invalid. i will bite. it is going to be the longest night. [you think this is trite, don’t you? fuck you!]

oranges illuminate the world outside. so pretty. the gentle hum of traffic in the distance is a not altogether unpleasant accompaniment to my own breathing. all is still.

i look up at Sirius with his head bowed; pining the death of his master, his starman.  [after all, all that is left are dying stars to illuminate this life… now that our brightest is gone]

“are you lonely?” i yell.

his voice is thin and white; but i hear him through my skin.

(c) Kat McDonald 2016

image: NASA, of course.

*faux, naturally…