Seven Children (Curtsey To 2022)

My word was ‘child’.

Next to ‘sun’, what more powerful symbol is there? The child is hope, future, faith. Innocence, purity, wonder. Regeneration, the potential for salvation. A connection to the divine.

Every year has a word and a theme, emerging out of hindsight.

2022 had seven children.


ONE

first, the child that passed away: 
I loved him fully, I grieved him fully
grieved him as I’d grieve a son
I expected him to leave
just not in a hurry

Grief, you tails side of the coin of love, forged in pain instead of bliss. Yes grief is love, acutely so. Not missing, not longing. It comes with a sword and aims for the heart, demanding a humble surrender.

Grief is love dressed in black.


TWO, THREE, FOUR

three more children flanked my heart
to repent, to nurture and believe in: 
the child I betrayed
the child I made
the child I chose

FIVE

clung to my skirts, a fifth child peeping
my younger self
forever slipping in and out of consciousness 
on an icy dark road of the Nineties
desperate for strong warm arms around her
for a saviour to find her

Some traumas do not vanish. Some children don’t grow up. She will always long for arms, and look for them in all the wrong places. That’s what they do, if not looked after. The children within.


SIX

the sixth child poked me
put the Bible in my hand, said ‘Read! 
Lay aside your judgement of religious institutions. 
Don’t let false prophets prevent you from finding Truth. 
Neither let your fear of madness.

then opened the fridge, got out some chocolate
sat down on the couch
and watched me

I envy those not looking. How peaceful life must be when your gaze is fixed in one direction.

I forever stroll, curious of perspectives. I read great thinkers, most dead, all crazy. In their worn shoes I walk their madness. In the pockets of their trousers I find matches. I light fires.

I do not get wiser from wisdom. I pee it out like excess water. I dance the dance the mad man dance, and the child giggles at my bliss, my ecstasy, my fury and frustration. For I see, and it’s exquisite! But no words can explain, no painting depicture. And I turn to God, for who else would understand?

‘I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance’, wrote Nietzsche.

I can testify that God is an excellent dancer.


SEVEN

the seventh child: the Bible
innocent and true, it placed itself on the kitchen table
the book of books
of patterns, of meaning, human DNA in writing
like any child, full of symbolism
like any child, annoying, hard work
like any child, full of contradictions, mysteries and madness

‘I am’, it said

I don’t pretend to understand – its accent from a far away time, its language buried in me under layers of rationalism.

I have a shovel and I dig. To find who we are, where we are, where we’re going. I dig for me and I dig for the child. For we’ve been here before, mass-killing children. An answer is in there, somewhere.


THE CHILDREN

Nietzsche was wrong: 
we did not kill God
we tried, but we couldn’t

and so we went for the children: 
killing hope, faith, dreams, future
innocence, freedom
unconditional love

Youth is worshipped, the children strangled. If released into adolescence – coughing, weak and indoctrinated – they’re put on a golden throne to rule us all as influencers. And we bow and say ‘Look, there’s the child, alive! All is well.’

In unmarked graves dug deep in our subconsciousness rest the child never born, the child mocked and crucified, the child bored to death as we stubbornly argued the colour of the inc of the pen that wrote the book of patterns.

When all beauty is stripped, the words are silenced, all meaning reduced to red, blue and yellow, the child will die of boredom.

God never intended us to be this uptight. He wrote the book of madness for us to know ourselves. He’s dancing. I hear him playing records in his solitude.


EPILOGUE

seven children came:
four flanked my heart 
the fifth I had to cradle
the sixth pointed the way
the seventh spoke the truth: 
life is madness

but there’s method to the madness
and truth to the method
and God in the truth

as long as there are children

It’s almost 2023, far too late for sanity. I curtsey this year and take my leave, bringing with me all my children. For one thing I learned: never sacrifice your faith for anyone’s fear. Never trade your ‘yes‘ for someone else’s ‘no‘. Never leave a child behind for anything but other children.

Happy New Year!

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