Stuff

Poetry

I built an island from my stuff, and at least once a week I dive under to check that it is all there and in good order.
The ropes are tied, everything is accounted for. I’m rich.
The deeps are intoxicating and sweet even though I am better off with plain old air to breathe.

I wake up one day, my face resting on warm sand, and hear voices in my head.
“I had to hoard, because you never know
if it’s a rescuer or a tsunami that’s around the corner.”
“Those pirates tricked me, said you can’t have too many pairs of shoes
and, girl you look good in the jacket with the epaulettes.”
“You can send me out an SOS, anytime. I sleep with my message bottle under my pillow – you should too.”

It sounds like nonsense. I can’t weigh up any more
whether it’s all worth drowning for.

Terrified, I abandon my island.
With every stroke I try to distance myself from my treasures
but the island threatens to drag me under.

The damn thing is still tied around my waist – by a shoestring.

My stuff can
suffocate
in the middle of the night
My things
unhinge me
when I try to put things right
My possessions turned into obsessions –
first a chest of sentimental baubles and now a mountain of memories that will not set sail, even if I say I want to cut loose.

Without all this, who’d I be?

I’d be swimming to open sea
I’d be a dolphin,
I’d be free.
I’d be visiting all the four corners of the world, sky and me.

I was a grown woman when I faced my hydrophobia,
so I’m still a novice when I tread water.
I fill my lungs with useless things like:
Ditch the extra anchor, faster, we only need one!
oh no, where is that rope, I really need it now
how will we pay for the island taxes next month?
too busy with hurling sandbags into the ocean, I forget to enjoy my husband and my children.

We can’t be good at everything, and
minimalism can be an addiction.

Someone’s throwing me a life line tonight. A ship’s captain who steers his own vessel on the same course as mine and keeps close watch over me, says:

You know how swim. Go slow. Just throw the ballast overboard bit by bit.
It’s what little you have on your travels that matter,
not how too much you don’t.
Transform that old fear into a rocksteady certainty that you do manage to keep your head above water. You always do.

Help is on its way.

Then, he puts his arm across my chest, I let my head rest on his breast,
and he brings me and my island safely back to shore.

He helps me make a trapdoor.
Stuff and ideas I don’t need anymore
go through that hole in the floor.
I’ve got a telescope
and a periscope
where I search for hope
that I can master both my memories and some things
yet still be free to spread my wings.

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