The last night

I should feel relieved that you’re finally going. And I am. Except I don’t really believe it, yet. From first being honest enough to say the words that I want you to leave and go back to your place there’s been a barrage of bloody everything. Texts from you. Your sister. People accosting me in the street. Outside the church. For fucks sake you’re a grown man. Accept it and leave me the fuck alone.

Haven’t you done enough?

Alternately, I’m angry then numb. I haven’t totally broken it yet. I’ve felt like I was in a glass bubble for so long. I can see the outside world, but I’m isolated from it. Increasingly, frighteningly isolated. Like the glass gets thicker and I’m stuck here. With no-one to turn to because the world seems to see a different face.

The affable, jovial even willing-to-help church attending member of the community.

My friend phones daily, my lifeline.

I’m avoiding other people because how can I break their vision of you? It’s not me to do that. And who wants to be effectively, the victim? Admit you were conned? The emotional blackmail is driving me crazy. From anger to tears you don’t fucking stop and I know that goes into following me, too.

I’m paranoid? Really? Am I? I saw your car. I know it’s registration like I know my own personal details. It turned up last night, outside a friend’s house, headlights on full beam and dipped between cars behind me as I walked through the roughest estate I know. Less scared there than I am of you.

I went to work today. Spoke with another friend. You don’t know she’s a friend. Not really. Just that she’s an acquaintance who is kind. Except I now know someone else believes me and it’s another chink in that glass bubble.

Crunch, crack, bit by bit. Her reaction took me by surprise. Something about getting that piece of shit the fuck out of there and to keep a weapon by the bed. I will do that tomorrow.

Curtains shut and getting ready for bed. A small defiance. But I have the key back. So, I have my life back. Finally.

Your car passed five minutes ago. You’re going to your house. And you put the key through the door earlier. A text short, abrupt. You’re picking your things up at a time convenient to us both.

I can get into bed, sleep as well as I can. I’m jittery. I tell myself you have no access and I’m being silly.

I’ve changed the bedding to get rid of the stench of sweat and alcohol that makes me gag. Still I can smell you. You linger like burned food after it’s gone in the bin. Except this is stale and threatening.

I breathe slowly. The doors are locked. There’s only us here. Myself and my daughter. She’s in the bedroom before mine.

And I hear a noise downstairs. You’re imagining it, I tell myself. Know I’m not. No I’m not. There were no lights shining through the curtain. I could just be scaring myself with shadows. Know I’m not. Oh fuck.

The stairs squeak occasionally. I know someone is in here. And there’s only one person it can be. You said yesterday you would surprise me. Your path around the bed I follow with my eyes shut. It’s the smell moving with you. I feel the dip as you sit on the bed. Hear you remove your clothes. You lean over me. Chuckling. At me or to yourself, who knows?

I daren’t move. Whatever you are here for, you’re so drunk that it won’t last long I tell myself.

Know the key being returned was symbolic of the power. A lie. Another fucking lie to add to the list.

You lean over me. Breath disgusting as it hits my face. Im not going to move. The smell of sweat, strong lager, mixed with brandy and mints. You must have seen your daughter. Lately, every time has meant you in a temper. A teenager no longer willing to worship you. I pay the price. The air crackles with danger.

My daughter is next door and I won’t scare her. Whatever happens to me I’ll get over. I can’t yell and scare the shit out of my child. She’s a brave little warrior who’d try and defend me. End up hurt.

You lean over me ‘I know you’re awake’

I don’t reply. Concentrate on steadying my breathing. Hope you’re going to fall asleep.

‘Bitch, I know you’re awake. You’re all the same. Move on when it suits’ you flick my nipple and I force myself to stay still. Calm as I can. Try to slow my heart down. Your hand grabs my left breast.

‘ I can feel your fear’ you whisper ‘you are awake’

Your hand slides away and I hope that you’re going to sleep. Your next words are the worst I’ll ever hear.

You drag your hand roughly down me and utter

‘I’ve always wanted to kill a woman’ fingers tap my neck, and the blood pounds in my head.

Bored of no reaction, you turn over and go to sleep. I don’t move.

All night I lie there. Awake.

It’s only a few hours before you get up for work.

The usual 5am like nothing is wrong. Like last night didn’t happen. You kiss my forehead saying you’ll be ‘home’ later. I put on an extra bolt after you leave. Rusty but working.

I go upstairs and am sick. But my child is safe. I feel myself shivering. It’s not cold at all. I acknowledge it is shock. Yet, I don’t have time for it now.

Today I’m getting the locks changed. The baseball bat my friend offered me too. Im furious and scared. A mixture even I know is dangerous.

©Ailsa Cawley 2021

This is not a poetry post but a Thank you

Today on the birthday of the NHS, it’s made me sit back and see exactly how much I’ve needed and used the NHS over my almost 50 years.

I’m not going to say I recall being born in an NHS hospital, though I was. My first proper memory was the NHS making something not done then possible. I was 11. My Grandad who was heroic to me, was in hospital. As was the case then, nobody said the word death to a child. Children didn’t visit hospitals, especially the dying, or go to funerals.

I’d picked up from conversations he wasn’t coming back. I needed to see. So I didn’t go to school. I went straight to the hospital. He demanded they allow me in. We talked, laughed, said our goodbyes. The nurses were fantastic, but without their agreement I’d never have said goodbye. In fact, I’m crying as I recall it today.

My next thing was finding out I am epileptic. I was 13 and I suddenly had a seizure in my bedroom. From then until I was roughly 18, I was mostly OK. I’d just started to see a fantastic neurologist, and the morning after my birthday, I was rushed into hospital. I’d been prescribed a wrong tablet dose. A mistake no doubt, from an underpaid overworked junior doctor. I was 10x overdosed. I was chuntering about leaving as my mum entered my room and the ambulance arrived after the doctor literally ran across from the surgery. I was lucky. Thanks to the NHS and their speed and care.

I was in hospital week in, week out for a long while and I’m talking years.

Then a good few years where I tried not to bother them!

They took care of me through pregnancy and then during post natal depression and depression.

I saw my dad having a spell in hospital after 5 heart bypasses when he thought he was having a double. It was just business as usual, we’re going to tell you everything. I can’t praise the staff more. My Dad has now sadly passed away, but we had him for many more years than would have been possible without these wonderful people. The people who care, in every sense. They understand how the patients feel and they’re there .

I’ve lost many family members over the years, as have we all. But if we were without the NHS, our NHS, I ask a simple question. How many of us would actually be here? Medicine doesn’t come cheap, hospital care is not cheap, and seriously having been on the nursing side, though not a nurse, I know how devastating losing a patient can be. How those people are taken home in worries and not forgotten about.

For all this and so much more. Thank you NHS. Happy Birthday NHS and here’s to many, many more.

Plated

Stepping forth in her armour she felt invincible

Her resolve not to be broken

The looks on their faces were shocked

Astonished at her audacity

That she’d not done what was expected

Her face cleared of the usual paint

Sleek hair left to be wild and exuberant

Suddenly in her nakedness she felt it

Powerful, in control

Their shock at her being as she wanted

Scared them

No heels, paint, sleek dress just her

Armour plated by being naked

She stared them down when they demanded

Smile pretty lady it’s not the end of the world

Yeah? She replied it is.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2020

The world he’s locked in

His stories are those of a person persuaded

That life has passed him by

People crushing his spirit and grinding

Their heels into his head

Because he isn’t what was expected.

So he chooses the path of least resistance

Pressing a button that destroys his world

Because he’s afraid of losing happiness

Fighting it from happening is easier

Than the disappointment as it walks away.

He’s tired of hiding behind the shell of pretence

That he’s so carefully constructed

To show the world the clown who loses

But it’s there flickering , the light

That’s now refusing to be extinguished

Now he knows some people believe in him.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2020

Promise the North

Let’s look at the North frozen wastelands

Win them over boys again.

Tell the same stories, change the words

Dangle carrots full of powerful pain.

Yes, I know we told them that last year

Also probably the one before

Saying we’d give them help

It’s the North, they only settle scores.

Subdue, substitute and ignore

All we’ve ever done to the place

We’ll keep our powerhouse for us

Tell them it’s impossible, save our face.

Forget it now, this promise to the North

All they do is march, pour forth

Didn’t go to our old chaps schools

They can’t see we’re a ship of fools.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2019

Differ and change

Undercurrent flows into conversation

A bitter edge that says you’re not better

Yet I never said I was

How do you explain it?

That you just need to see what else there is

Know what other choices there are

Make decisions without fear of

The failure that surely follows

If you dare to change

And allow Times mist to swirl around

Carrying you with them to new things.

If you’re happy where you are I’m happy

For you are living your plans

As I am

Neither of us better or best

Just different and happy with our choice

So we shall have to beg to differ

And I will follow my change.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2019

Queen of arrows

She sits there like a queen on her throne

Sceptre a fag hanging down

Flicking ash she makes her choice

Of which horse is worth the money

Not a gamble, it’s a definite winner

Mind you, she’s usually right

Her arrow throwing hand would’ve made her

A formidable opponent in war

These days she’s making sure that in the corner

They’re not messing up her score

As she hits the board to win the darts

Knowing once more she’s nailed it.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2019

Fireside secrets

Listen girl keep looking you’d say

Watch that fire flicker with dreams

See pictures of life cross it

And swallow the future whole.

Tell yourself you can see and you will

Shadows of orange flame become futures

Worlds of opportunity open to you

If you only believe they are.

I’m not talking magic or hocus pocus

My words are meant to convey

The simple life you can make

If you should need to escape.

The rat runs here no more comfort

Than the days when I was small

Well, in some ways it is but really

I’m only saying why have the same

When you could have it all?

Written about conversations with my nana as a child

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2019

Broken man

A broken man skeletal but proud

Walks in daring anyone

To mention his weight loss

Haunted face deathly gaunt

Knowing each day brings him closer

To the end.

He knows what is happening

Will tell you after a drink

Wants no sympathy, fact dealing

So there’s not speculation

As he hears them discuss him

Talk about the ‘condition ‘

Coming to take the life he knew

Your words are not accurate

This thing filled him with stoicism

While eating away who he was

Wanting to tell them while asbestos eats

He can still hear every single beat.

Written about the close friend of my dad who was a fighter and battled asbestosis, a very brave man even as he was being broken down.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2019

Pushing

Try pushing, cajoling

Screaming and wails

Hurl insults like boulders

To get through the day.

Try threats coated in treacle

Not subtle or sweet

You’ll wait till I’m ready

I bow at nobody’s feet.

Watch through cracks in the story

Make your own fairytale end

I can see through your mask

Don’t break and don’t bend.

I may say little to you but read

You so well

I’m wary not scared

You are but a shell.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2018