My Garage

My garage
is very large
and accommodating
with space for everything
except my car

The garage walls
and roof
and door
make sure it is safe
like sacred space

My garage
doesn’t judge
it just accepts
and holds
and waits
until the winter cold
abates

Then when I start
to sweep
and sort
I rediscover
all the junk
that I once bought

Summer sun
brings clearance days
some things I take
to car boot sales
the rest I give
away

Eventually
the garage space
is free once more
large and accommodating
with space for everything
except my car

Ready for the debris of my life
to accumulate
all over
again

2017 & 2021

The Man in the Thin Grey Jumper with Eyes like George Clooney

The thin threads of your grey jumper
Lie loose on the bones of your back

Your life has been hard
Just getting through
So little has come your way
So much that you lack

But now you are here
And a change has begun
You have a wife
A new life
Less pain

When you smile
Your whole face glows
For a while
And best of all
Though you do not know
You have the eyes of George Clooney
Fit for a movie

As the story of your life
Continues to unfold
I hope you will find
The strength to be bold

Be happy
Be true
All good things
In the world
Should now come
To you.

© Maggie ‘Glad the Poet’ Baker 2015 & 2021

Spring

The cold, folded steel
of your handles
fit precisely into my palm
where they belong

Thumb finds familiar catch
that slips silently to one side
releasing the spring
opening your blades
for action

You are my weapon of choice
as together we cut and thrust our way
to the possibility of new growth

Season after season
we have fought fibrous flesh
of one kind or another
but today I use you
for a different reason

With a delicate snip and trim and dip
down each cutting goes into the dark holes
I have prepared for them
ready to take root
if they choose

I don’t want to lose them
or you, as I sometimes do
in places that escape me

Then, as your dull grey surface
greets me once again
I know we will go on
you with your blades
and me with my hands
to create many pots of cuttings
and piles of thorns
amongst the blossoms.

© Maggie ‘Glad the Poet’ Baker 2017

The Pie Poem

This poem was inspired by my partner’s love of pies generally and one in particular, The Famous Cow Pie at the George Hotel in Keswick. http://georgehotelkeswick.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/The-George-Evening-Menu-18.09.20.pdf.

However, even though he helped me to write the poem, I’m only crediting him with eating the pie, unless he wants to eat his words. Ha!

The perfect pie

The perfect pie
is sensationally satisfying
oozing with succulent
gorgeous, gravy goodness
as the nostril-caressing aroma
emanating from its slab-like form
stimulates the anticipation
of marvellous meatiness
turning into an explosion of flavour
the savouring of which
makes the world immediately
a better place –
perfection
on a plate.

Washing Up

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

One of the few things I remember from school is ‘The Order of Washing Up’:

Glasses first, clean and bright
knives and forks come next
plates follow on until they’re done
the saucepans finally too
I’ve washed up many times and yet
the order still comes through

Washing up is not a chore
it’s a time to stand and think
of soap and suds and water
and all things in my sink

I hope my pile of washing up
is there for me each day
I never dry, just let it drain
and then I put it all away.

January 2020

Cancellation

Cancellation

My holiday was cancelled

and I had to stay at home

I started feeling angry

and even a bit glum

But then I saw the sad news

so many dead at sea

fleeing from their countries

just wanting to be free

I was disappointed

they were lost and drowned

it gave me some perspective

and made me look around

I only had to change my mind

I still had life and breath and limb

I’d only lost a holiday

While they’d lost everything.

2013 & 2017

The Pebble, the Picture and the Plant

Perfectly placed on a shelf, they appear to have arrived where they were always meant to be, the pebble, the picture and the plant. Which is odd really because pebbles are meant for beaches and pictures for art galleries or walls; plants can be anywhere that nature calls.

I’ve no idea where the plant came from apart from the supermarket where I picked it up. Or did it pick up me, with it’s green and white simplicity?

The plant is now closely proximal to the pebble and the picture, in a ceramic pot.

Three things together that I like a lot.

2020

Cycles of Recovery

Grey Island

Grey island
you spin and swirl around me
(or is it the sea?)
as I sit and wait
for my thick-headed brain
to clear
which it does
almost, but elusively
and all too briefly
teasingly
still tense
tension immense

Four seagulls soar
one sits
probably shits
(or is that on the wing?)

Thrift, rock, heather
purple, black, yellow, mauve
green, grey, white
weather wild
mild
quite

Walking, talking, inwardly
I sit (still) and wait
for my thick-headed brain to clear
and allow me to feel
the joy of the sea
and the splendour of the trees
and everything around me

So, I sit (on a rock) and wait
for my thick-headed brain to clear
and know that someday soon
it will be free
hopefully

© Maggie Baker 1998

A quarter of a century after I started my self-directed journey of recovery from a complete personal breakdown, it would be easy to think at this stage that I never will get that sense of mental clarity that I have been seeking.

I hoped by now that I could have been sailing instead of struggling to find the energy to get through each day in a remotely positive way.

There are significant differences though, between then – when I started out – and now – when I’ve arrived at a particularly low down point, wondering how on earth I’m going to summon up the motivation and momentum to start going ‘up’ or ‘forward’ again.

The most significant difference for me is that now I’m in a loving relationship.  My partner and I care for and about each other in ways that make us both feel good.  He suffers from depression too, so we often alternate in terms of who most needs support from the other at any one time. We’ve both had almost catastrophic life experiences to contend with in the past, both just come through by the skin of our teeth, both had to learn to trust again – often the most difficult thing of all, including trusting ourselves as well as each other. And we’re both now thankful that we’ve found each other. ‘Together Forever’ is our motto. We want to make the most of the time that we have – both now in our 60s – and that, in itself, is a motivator. At the same time, I’m still feeling profoundly exhausted and know that I need to do some more work on myself to pull out of this and finally put the traumas of the past behind me.

I know that it’s important to sometimes push myself and at other times do nothing. Doing nothing is hard as it brings with it the fear that it will become a permanent state and that I will vegetate from doing nothing to being nothing. At my age, fear of dementia also comes in to the mix. But in the depths of depression, doing anything at all feels like just too much, so where do I start?

I keep coming back to affirmations.  Affirmations, some gentle regular exercise, healthy eating, not too much alcohol.  All sensible things.

The affirmations I’ve identified for myself at this time are for depression and hearing problems.  While I don’t really have hearing problems as such – other than age-related deterioration – I do have problems with ‘itchy ears’ and I have also had problems in the past with being heard. 

I set about learning and practising active listening skills when I trained as a volunteer bereavement counsellor – it must have been about 20 years ago now.  I’ve found those skills invaluable in different jobs and roles that I’ve held, although more latterly I’ve found it increasingly hard to concentrate.  Active listening, by definition, means giving another person full attention. I think my body and brain have been telling me to give myself full attention for a change; had I ‘listened’ to what they were telling me earlier, I might not have arrived at the state I’m at now, although by the nature of cycles, they do have to go full turn.

Anyway, the affirmations that I’ve found, to say to myself when I can and when I need to, are:

“I move beyond other people’s fear and limitations. I create my own life.”

“I hear with love.”

https://healinglaffirmations.blogspot.com/2014/04/self-healing-through-affirmations-from.html?m=1

When I say each of these, at the very low ebb that I’m at now, I get a sense of uplift in my spirit, even if my body and brain are running well behind.  I hold on to the belief that they will catch up though. Eventually.

Oh, and of course writing – something, anything – can be therapeutic as well. I’m going to keep writing, and affirming. And washing up, and doing a bit of gardening …