Desemparats

They’ve gone, my husband and my son. In my mind’s eye, I can still see them waving in the distance, as the boat drifted further and further towards the horizon. And then they were no more.

 My baby and I are alone, and we wait to hear that they have arrived but I’ve lost count of the weeks, and the crossing should have taken just days. I’ve heard of boats not arriving, but that couldn’t happen to my Miran and Sami, could it? They have Allah’s protection. I pray, and they pray, five times a day and we lead good lives, remembering the Pillars of Islam, so we must wait patiently. For how long? another week, another month?

He left me with 100 euros, I can’t spend it, no one will change it for me, they think it’s fake money. We are hungry, this girl child will starve soon. The camp is full of rats and the grain has bugs in it. The toilets are a poisonous death waiting to happen. I have to walk three miles a day to get to a clean place, but then the heat bears down on me. My clothes are rags now, the girl is hungry and was crying all the time, but now today she has stopped.  That’s not a good thing, she’s giving up, missing her father and brother. I miss my men and feel frightened all the time. The men that wait for boats look me up and down, desperate to see if I have money. If they find my euros they will take them.

I have a wound on my leg that festers and this morning I scraped a worm from it. I am worried now, but must hold on to my husband’s smile and promise to send for me, as soon as they find work and save enough for us to join them in Europe. Italy, Greece? Anywhere will do if there is food and shelter over our heads. We need medicine as well. I bleed all the time and have no protection just grimy rags, my child has shit running down her legs. 

We must keep safe, I must keep the girl safe. If the aid workers see us, they may try to take the girl or lock us away and send us home to Syria. Ah, if only we didn’t have to leave Syria, but we would have been dead already if we’d stayed. I watched them kill my brothers and my Miran’s father. We had to leave.

There are thousands of people here, all hungry, all frightened and desperate. The boat price goes up every day and still people find the money and go. If I was a bad woman it would be easier, I could sell my body and make lots of money to get us to Europe. But it’s too late, even if I was a bad woman, no one would buy my body now, it’s full of insects and sickness. I must sleep, perhaps tomorrow I will hear from Miran that they are safe. Suppose they got separated, what would become of my son on his own in a strange land with nothing but a few words of English?  They wanted to pick grapes, work in farms or factories, anything, all hours if they could get it. They will get it, Allah is with them, we are good people and this pain will end, Insha’Allah.

This writing was inspired by a Picasso painting ‘The Desemparats, (the abandoned) displayed in the Musee Picasso, Barcelona.

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Cake and corsets

It’s strange isn’t it, how memories are triggered?

The other day I was talking to my friend at work, about our battles with weight. In the six or so years we’ve known each other, we’ve both dieted a few times, with some success and some failure. I’ve often said that our office makes us fat, because there are around 16 people, birthdays happen around 16 times a year – now that’s a surprise.  Each one of those means a cake day, and regular visits from outside agencies like auditors, also bring cake, chocolates, biscuits or all three. At Christmas, the quantity is obscene and it lives on a table at my end of the room! I can resist some of it, but home-made cake beats me. And there are occasional fund raising days where the more charitable slave away over a hot stove, so that we can indulge while feeling generous.

So, the lovely M was browsing the internet during her lunch break, looking rather pleased with herself. She’s a bit of a minx and I asked her what mischief she was making. ‘I’ve just ordered something’ she said, ‘to sort this out’ she rubbed her midriff, ‘I’ve got to do something about this bulge’.

I laughed and she went on to say that she’d ordered a corset. ‘Ooo-er, a saucy little number for Valentines? With laces?’I asked.

‘Na, here it is’, she took out her phone, ‘I’ll lose weight with this one’. The photo was a bizarre looking thing that seemed to be in two pieces, a tight bit underneath a vest shape bit.

‘What are you on about, lose weight, it’ll just squash up your insides, just like Spanx, really uncomfortable’ I said.

‘It’s supposed to make me sweat because it’s tight, and that will make me lose weight’. Now M is always hot, I’ll have a chunky jumper on top of a vest, with a scarf around my neck and shoulders, while I’m sat at my desk, and she’ll be in a thin sleeveless blouse. I reminded her that she suffers from the heat as it is.

And then the half-formed memory burst out.

When I was a little girl my grandmother was a bit plump, as ladies of a certain age often are. The best grandmothers are plumptious, but mine was quite short, so couldn’t get away with it as well as some. I remember her ordering herself a rather expensive corset, that was also supposed to help her lose weight, by making her sweat. Funny how things go around. It arrived from the Traffords mail order catalogue, and she was so excited when she opened it. Made of skin coloured rubber, rather like swimming caps were made from, and with hooks and eyes that I had to help her do up. It was incredibly tight, but she hoped for a miracle.

She had a few of these corsets

, they had a tendency to tear, and she would get very angry and curse the manufacturers for selling ‘a pig in a poke’.

She did lose weight sometimes, I remember her grapefruit diet, but invariably she regained it, as do I and my friend M.

It’s easy to lose, easier to regain and I hope my memory made you smile.

 

The Offie

This morning I read a prompt from Oloriel at ‘We Drink Because We’re Poets’. It’s about remembering a place from your past and she said
‘This week I would like you to share with me a poem about a place – a place that was dear to you, but is no longer there. It can be a bar, a museum, a library, bookstore, your old school – anything. I invite you to tell me what changed, what got replaced and how did it make you feel. Form, length, rhyme, all is optional.’
Me, being me, read the prompt entirely wrong. Why I would read a prompt on a poetry blog and not catch on that I was supposed to write a poem I don’t now, but I’ve only just caught on. I’m posting anyway because the little memories were special for me.

The Offie

Sparkling white art deco instead of grubby cream. Now the future homes of well-heeled, aspiring middle class, first time buyers. Curved windows that will forever be a problem to curtain well, high ceilings that will keep the fuel bills high. I used to peep through those windows to see who was sitting on the curved seats inside them, all the time wondering what it would be like to sit there. By the time I was old enough to sit there, it was the last place I wanted to sit, not trendy enough for me, filled with old men and Laners have a night in the posh one instead of the Flying Horse. Me, I preferred the club scene, even if a Babycham was twice the price.
I wonder what happened to Ross, Mr Whitaker. He always had a soft spot for me and watched me grow from a toddler to an eighteen year old, who thought she was sophisticated. In the beginning it was Spangles, Maltesers or if I got lucky a big bar of Dairy Milk. Crisps were Smiths, and the salt came in a little blue paper twist, that you had to reach to the bottom of the bag to find. It was never enough to make the whole packet salty! I loved the salted peanuts as well, until a connection was made between eating them, and waking up an hour after bedtime with vomit in my hair.
The entrance was on the side, in, turn left, no dawdling to see what was up the corridor – barrels, boxes and a pay phone and then a choice of two doors side by side. I was only allowed in the first, the second was for adults. It was years before I was tall enough to lean on the tiny counter to ask for my own sweeties or bottle of fizzy pop. At weekends it was rowdy and when I stopped being a little girl, I’d get yelled at by the blokes who could see me from the other side, the dark side.
Years later I learnt that Ross and his wife had moved back to London. I felt sorry for him, she was a miserable old boot. I rarely went that way and when I did it had deteriorated badly, windows and doors boarded up and generally going to wrack and ruin. Rumours were that it was going to be demolished. Then last year, I was stuck in traffic at the bottom of the road, craning my neck I saw the dazzling white paint. The St Loyes had been converted into apartments. I wonder if there is any trace of the art deco left inside. I wonder if the beery, cidery, smoky smell has ever left the pub and if the Off Licence is someone’s bedroom.
If you’d like to check out the prompt and use it properly, it’s here.
http://wedrinkbecausewerepoets.com/2014/03/17/poetry-prompt-2-the-places-we-are/

No Small Stones

For the last two Januarys I have chosen to write a small stone for each day of the month. This year it came upon me suddenly – who knew that January was on its way? Late on New Years Day I thought about joining in and decided against it. I also looked at the idea of joining the WordPress  ‘Zero to Hero’, month but again it didn’t quite fit with my goals.

Do I even have a goal for blogging? should I have one? Blogging is addictive, I absolutely love it, the never ending surprises when I open my reader, but most of all, the connections with you my dear followers.

So, rather than commit to posting every day for a month, I’ll commit to continuing, hopefully improving my posts to Lucid Gypsy this year. I love photography, but this blog didn’t set out to be about photos, I would like to write more instead. That may be my simple poetry, it will never be poetry that takes hours to write. It will never be fiction that is honed to perfection, but I hope there will sometimes be stories, perhaps flash fiction that will make you smile, or irritate you or just feel.

I will keep looking at the world around me with  writer’s eyes because these eyes see some crazy sights, and I’ll try my best to show you what I see with or without my camera.

Thank you for sharing your time with me, every comment, like or whatever is a note in my gratitude jar.

Love and light, from Gypsy.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshot

Today Erica at the Daily Post said,

At a concert. Snap. At a restaurant. Snap. Watching the sun set. Snap. These days, everything feels like a Kodak moment. What happens when you stop taking pictures, and use words to capture a moment instead?

This is what happened when I didn’t snap today.

Snapped Flags

A windblown flash of colour caught my eyes. He turned, dropped a stub of fire to the ground and rubbed the heel of a Nike trainer into it, pressing the pavement like a dog leaving its scent until it was extinguished. The colour flashed again. He swept aside green fabric with a white cross emblazoned on it, the flag of Devon, revealing scruffy denim with frayed edges.

Intrigued, I looked up; two people were ahead of him as he waited to get on the bus. I stopped, fumbled for my phone camera but changed my mind, what if he saw me . . . Instead I acted as if I might just get on the bus. He was wearing a letterbox red gilet, somewhat effeminate, over a bold shirt with a large black and white check pattern, below a crown of orang-utan hair.

As he moved up the queue I took my eyes off his hair, and his garments became clearer in the light of the bus. He bent to pick up a bag, stooping from the waist down, releasing more fabric, dipping onto the damp path at the front. It looked like he had a dozen or more oblongs of bright silk attached to his middle. How? Tied to a belt? Made into a silk version of a grass skirt?

No-one else seemed to notice him; if they did they weren’t acknowledging him in any way. I was blocking the way and had to move aside and I nearly missed his ascent of the steps. Before the bus protected him, a final small gust of breeze caught him, bright as a Morris Dancer on amphetamines, blowing first a Union Jack,  next, a red flag with a star and a crescent moon, I hunted back through my memory Turkey, yes that was it, Turkey. Stripes of black, red and yellow, another blue with a small Union Jack in its corner, and a Star Spangled Banner, bold as it should be. The door closed behind him, narrowly missing blue with yellow stars in a circle, familiar of course, the EU flag.

It is a public building, but not in the centre of town, and there were no events taking place, no festival, although he wouldn’t have looked out of place at Glastonbury. Perhaps I’m just dull; I wonder how I would look in a flag skirt. Maybe if I were younger I could get away with it. I didn’t even get to see his face, but I could tell that he was middle aged and happy in his own skin. I suppressed a laugh, people never stop surprising me.

Does this seem real? well it is, I actually did see this today. What have you seen today that made you smile? You all know how hard it is for me to not take photos, how about you? If you care to share go to . . .

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/weekly-writing-challenge-snapshots/

Crossing genres

A writing friend of mine, Rebecca Alexandra has penned the Myslexia Blog this month. It’s an excellent read in which she talks about genre and breaking a few rules. Rebecca’s first novel will be published in two months and I can’t wait to read it, click the link to find out more about Myslexia, the writing competition that helped Rebecca achieve her dream and her novel ‘The Secrets of Life and Death’.

Crossing genres.

CPW’s Picture prompt

Last week I went for a lunchtime walk with Crazy Polish Woman who complained that my blog is full of photos and not much writing these days. I explained that I have to keep my best writing for the course I’m studying, and to build up a body of work, but I do try to do the 100 word challenge most weeks, because flash fiction isn’t too trying.

Back at my desk she emailed me this picture, with the question ‘What is happening here?’

Desktop

The picture, by Charles Sims is called ‘and the fairies ran away with their clothes’ . But this is what I think is happening, what do you think?

Small Saboteurs

Now my love I want you to listen carefully.

You see these pretty little creatures at my feet? Well they are my small saboteurs and they lived with me for a long time. In the beginning they smiled and told me I was a silly little girl. But gradually they started to change. They said I was stupid, a hopeless case and that I would never get anywhere in life, and I believed them and became just that, hopeless.

Next they said I was ugly, and that I was getting fat. And so I never smiled, I screwed my face into a frown, turned my mouth down and ate and ate until I thought I would burst.

Worst of all, was when they told me that no one would ever love me. So I made sure that no one would, I behaved very badly.

Still my small saboteurs told me how bad I was, they all shouted at once and gave me such a headache that I shouted back, ‘Stop it, shut up and go away,’ I was very angry. They fell silent and huddled together, so I quickly put them in my hat and locked it in my drawer.

I felt a little better right away, and the very next day I met a handsome man, who said that I had a pretty smile. I smiled at myself in the mirror, turning from side to side, and saw that I had a tiny bit of prettiness, so I smiled wider!

The handsome man was always kind to me, and before I knew it, he said that he loved me and wanted me to be his wife. I was so happy that I forgot all about the small saboteurs, and then along you came.

So I want you to know that if ever a saboteur speaks to you, they speak untruths, and you must never believe them. I’ve taken these creatures out of the drawer and I’m going to drop them in the old well one by one, never to be seen or heard again.

 

 

 

 

100 Word Challenge forGrown Ups Week# 63

100WCGU (7)

 

Julia has gone for a seasonal prompt this week with ‘and winter will bring . . .’

I didn’t think I would make it, but as I’m babysitting this evening, the late night is an opportunity, so here is

Winter’s Gifts

And winter will bring enduring moon

regal rotund shining for hours through the six a.m. alarm

through sharp ice sky rolling to the west

as  dawn ripples from the east.

And winter will bring ice

crunching crystals on grass shooting veneer onto pond

silvered birch a forest of icycled chandeliers.

And winter will bring

spiralling north wind on street corners

whipping around limbs and petrifying ears.

And winter will bring light precious from low sky sun

concentrated through window an illusion of warmth

no substance and stunted shadows.

And winter will bring thrust from the underworld

Galanthus to herald the spring.

Join in with Julia at http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week63/

100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups Week# 59

Julia has chosen this picture for her challenge this week. A photo I have seen before and wondered, whatever would make someone walk to the edge, never mind sit there? How would you get back up again?

So I think it would have to be a very desperate reason.

Long Drop

That morning he’d found her cowering in the barn, her face turned eggplant purple, and an ugly gash to the back of her head. His brother-in-law had stirred when Ray took the gun from his belt, and pulled a blade, as he used the hay bales to push himself up. He crumpled instantly, blood sprayed from his mouth, it took just one of his own bullets, shot from Ray’s steady hand.

He listened until he had heard both a heavy thud and an empty metallic clatter. That’s taken care of it. I’ve covered my tracks and she’ll come to no harm again. 

We Go Out After Dark

I’m finally having a go at Maggie Elizabeth’ prompt, this week she said it could be  a photo, art, writing or a song. 

So I’m using a photo you may have seen before  and have just scrawled this to go with it. You may need to live in Britain to get it, I don’t know?

We go out after dark

Freshness of face hidden

Under identical masks

Displaying our individuality

Our dress sense unique

Only five thousand made

For a top shops 440 branches

Glittered American nails

Rhinestoned sweep of lashes

Scaffolding to access

Gold heeled sparkling platforms

Break our legs on Jagerbombs

When we go out after dark

Very rare huntresses

Maggie would be thrilled to see you if you would like to join in!