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

Blanket Days ~ for a friend.

Hunkered down

Pull a blanket around

Hide in a warm cocoon

Where tea flows

And nobody knows

If you’re staying or leaving soon.

Take a blanket day

Ease the cares away

Running everything to ground

As you nourish your soul

Stop the world grabbing hold

Stay invisible to the crowd

Give to yourself the things

You’re suggesting for others

Treat your own body carefully

As if that of a lover

You’re filling up from the inside

Receive till it oozes out of edges

That you never knew you had

Smoothing away the harshness of days

And making you full once more

Until then stay in your blanket

Warm and caring for you

With what you need and a brew.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2021

Flame in the snow

My feet are blue with cold

As I trudge the snowy hills

To find the signs of those gone

Ahead leaving wispy wisdom

Like golden coins in the drifts

Of feather like flakes

Heart thudding as I hear a whisper

It is your turn to pick up the baton

The lit torch in your path

Forge on with it, it’s magical light

Guide for head and heart

My feet cold no longer I see

I am clad in shoes to protect

A cloak grown warmer around me

Heart steadier and surer

That my path however different

Is the right one to take

And so I shall

Head bowed I thank the ancestors

The hills, and wind

The quiet now gone and a bird sings

Heralding my newness.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2021

Climbing

I see the hill to a hard road ahead

Slippery climb through earth

Wet, sliding and falling

Hit the ground, teeth grinding

Against pain as I force myself on

Enduring to win and take back

My power , my path.

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2020

Do you see me?

Do you see me, really?

Not who you want me to be

Or think I should be

Would be if I shaved my edges off

So you could see what you want

And I would be what you’ve desired

All these years your vision skewed

Have you ever once seen me?

Looked at me closely without distaste

Because I’m not who you envisioned I’d be

When you first started pushing, pulling at me

Trying to remove my awkwardness

Angry that what was there wasn’t desirable

I’ve noticed you still trying to cut

Little bits off when you think nobody sees

But here’s the thing

Even those who don’t know you have it

The vision to go beneath your veneer

They see you too and you’re blind to it.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2020

Lightgiver

Teaching not preaching or leading

Words that said this was me

I can tell you how light is in everyday

Sun shining through a crack in curtains

The lightgiver taught me that

You don’t need baking sun

To warm a scared heart

You don’t need much of anything

To make a new or brighter start

Only one thing is necessary

A willingness for light to flood

As it washes away the dark

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2020

Rising

She is rising from the earth to sing

Her age old story on drums

That beat in heart rhythm

And carry on the wind crying

For help and guidance

So she can gather strength

As she walks through fire

Her clay body molding to new shape

Life pieced apart and rebuilt stronger.

He is behind her watchful as she dances

And sings incantations to evoke elders

The forgotten ones, remembering how

To bring them forward he is waiting

For her to signal the way ahead

The time to move on

She whirls lights from the fire catching

Skirts that dance as though alight

Her trance from now to wherever

Is watched with bated breath

She will dance faster, slower, faster

Not stopping until the answer is there

Only then will exhaustion take her

Her words before sleep to be passed

Among the gathering folk

Whispers from person to person

Man to woman, child to adult

She said the goddess spoke to her

Our mission is to carry on before the fire

Listening to the earth and saving her

The message has never changed

We carry on dancing and drumming

The earth is passing the message herself

We must listen for her roar could deafen

Even those who want to silence her.

Ailsa

©️AilsaCawleyPoetry2020

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

High

The persona that you projected

I am up here on high and bear your presence

I will grit my teeth to see gratitude

Spewing out of you and I remain high

Lofty, above you, and someone to aspire to

Accepting all adulation with a wave

Expect you to fall at my feet and you will.

Your world depends upon who sees you as special

Who will do anything to please you

Fawn over you and into line

Like little tin soldiers you watch from on high.

Apparently I dissented in the ranks

Fell out before I was told to go

Oh I can see all the cracks, chinks in armour

I’d rather be here on the outside

Than there on your fake high

Wondering how far it’s going to be

On the way down to the bottom.

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