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Saskia Campbell Dec 2019
‘how are you?’ they ask

‘fine, thanks’
I smile.  Because my face does that. That’s what it is meant to do. And my outside and inside are not connected any more.

‘do you want to talk about it?’ they ask

‘It’s a lot’
And I watch them wait. See them watch me smile. Watch them try to connect my outside to my insides.

But they can’t do that.
Because I can’t do that.

Sometimes I say the words out loud.
Pluck them out of the blank space inside my head and hurl them out into this normal world.
They are an act of violence.
Dressed in my normal speaking voice.

‘my daughter tried to **** herself’

In the hospital, they called her ‘the overdose in bed 16’
As if the method of it mattered.
As if that was the part that needed healing.

And they ask her why.
And she tells them.

‘He left me.
Without him I have no reason to stay’

And I reach across this endless space and hold her hand.
And I hang on.
And I try not to feel my insides.
Saskia Campbell Aug 2019
I woke up this morning and
I had been made blank.
The colour and texture of me erased.
Even the hollow and empty were gone,
and what I have been left with
is this quiet stillness

this seems fine

my life plays out, a vintage home movie in
the distance of my mind, in faded
colours, with muted dialog.
There is an echo of a laugh-track
that does not hold my interest.
I’m not sure if that’s important.

but it seems fine

like my guilt and want and need,
my desperation,
were ropes that bound my ankles
that wrapped around my neck
and I have been cut loose.
to drift away in this quiet stillness

and this seems fine.
Saskia Campbell Aug 2019
I think it is science, or art, or nature?
maybe there is no difference,
but when it works, it is beautiful.
Not like kittens in a basket,
but like a Mandelbrot set;
intricate, nuanced and perfectly balanced.

it is the balance that is my undoing.

In the beginning I was meant to hold her close.
gentle, warm and welcoming.
until that welcome and warmth reached
all the way inside her.
Like charging a battery for the first time.
but nothing comes from nothing,
and I ran dry.
too soon.

So now she wears my damage
like a wound, an accusation,
a plea.
and I want to make her whole,
but giving feels like punishment.
Like I have to choose; who will get
this oxygen? her or me?
and will everything I have ever be enough?
to fill either of us?
Saskia Campbell Jul 2019
today I took the phone off the hook,
then I wrapped it in a heavy jacket
and hid it in my drawer.

the drawer where I hide my candy.
so, I swapped them.
I let the rich, sweet colours
take my focus and forced the world
to hide beneath my tastebuds

so now the world, the phone and I
do not exist.
for this little while

I think I’ll leave my glasses on my desk today.
I’m not sure I want the
world in focus and this
gives a simple reason for
the pain behind my eyes.

there is no point
in brushing my hair. my lips
are too heavy on
my face, and my eyelids only
seem to bother with every second blink.
or maybe third

I do not really understand
how this numbness feels just like burning.
or why nothingness weighs heavy
like wet wool.
and I don’t really care.
Saskia Campbell Jul 2019
‘remember’ she said
like it were simple,
painless, clean.

‘why don’t you like to remember?’

and it oozes in, like the stench of rotten flesh

too much
too close
too close
too close

and I remember;
I am not allowed to stop this
not now
not then
this flesh of mine belongs to someone else,

and I know, this is not the same.
but I am stained with this debasement
and you must suckle from my shame
can you taste it?
That I don’t want this.

Can your newborn eyes see how ugly that is?

and I remember;
how I want to sing hymns to you.
to fill your world with pink and purple sound.
to wrap you whole in clouds and sunshine
I want you to be safe here

and I remember;
how you are bare, defenceless
tender like the flesh of ripened fruit
and mine are not a mother’s hands

because mothering is lush,
endless and unstinting
sincere and welcoming

and I am dry, barren, wrong
miserly and empty

this is not mothering
this fear
this resentment

your need is a question I do not have the answer to,
huge and terrifying,
it will swallow us both whole.

and I remember;
how I want to run,
I want to put you and your hunger
and your greedy ******* want
over there.

To keep space between us.

Because you want more than I have.
Need more than I am.

and the only thing that hurts me more than remembering,
is the idea that you might remember too.
This will probably be uncomfortable to read, it was certainly painful to write. But surviving ****** abuse can make mothering a new born, no matter how cherished and wanted, difficult and painful for both mother and child.
Saskia Campbell Jul 2019
my world is a life boat,
a nursery rhyme construction
of wood and tired paint;
almost safe
almost stable
almost dry
almost real

I have crafted it from pure will
and grip tight with aching fingertips
even as I stare over the edge
at everything I want to know.

Everything I fear.

because the ocean makes no promises,
it is a story told in real time,
destination unknown

and I sip at the flavour of it,
let the rich and briny thickness
of it coat my tongue
and dry crisp against my skin.

And I pretend at understanding

With loving reverence, I curate tales
of its inky black mysteries
and full spectrum shining life,

I watch it flash and froth beneath the surface.
out of reach.

But I have never let it take me whole,
never let the rhythm of it press against my flesh,
never danced with waves from the inside,
never dared to open my eyes in salt water.

And I wonder
if I have resigned myself
to growing old here?
Saskia Campbell Jul 2019
I want to label this wound
with a single word
but I cannot find one that fits

I wanted to call you Father,

but you would not have stood for that
you would have seen my intent,
tasted my defiance.
you understand the power of our names
you scent it in the air,
an instinctive predator.

Father, would have given me space,
the first step towards an open door

Dad, bound me close
with coarse, abrasive rope
that you called
love and loyalty and family

it would not hurt me, you said
as long as I kept still

so I hid my heartbeat from you
in the steady thrum of others'
because there is safety in a crowd
I offered you Father-in-law
I let you have Grandfather

but I cannot do
what is second nature to you,
I cannot look at family
and see prey

so I ran
I took what I could carry and I fled
I chose my own name for you

I called you no-one
I called you my past

but a letter came today
registered post
and you have signed it
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