Drizzle

Waking,
That feeling that colours everything
Drizzle
Named itself - 

Not grateful to be alive
Just afraid to be dead.

Like a tepid eureka moment,
A flat discovery.

This is a wound
That never heals.
But seeps on.
And to accommodate it
I will  limp through the rooms of the day,
With a glooming Looming
In every corner of every activity, idea,
Soul space.

Not a wonder -
Why am I here?
But a reproach - 
Why am I here?

Such a dabbling amateur human,
Tinkering away.
Lots of loud hammering,
But only botched constructions
On sand.

But then a Blue Glimmer
Splits, spills through
Says -
Failure is an option,
Not a disgrace.

And I get up.

Copyright Tina Towey 2021

Dandelion

Consider not the lily,
But
The dandelion.

A root so tenacious and stubborn.
Here I stand!  - a Lutheran plant,
Impossible to dig out,
Unconcerned by quality of soil or sunlight,
It declares,
Here is good enough
Here have I found myself planted and growing.

Open palmed leaves
Cupping every drop of sun and rain
Channeling both down its throat
Gimme! I’m ready!
Pour it on!
Gulping essences of life.

Yellow you can’t miss me flowers
High profile signalling,
Unafraid, unashamed, defiant
Standing out from the crowd
And hang the consequences -
Mower, trowel, secateurs - 
Bring ‘em on!
I’ll be back!

And a generosity of seeds
So barely tethered
That a child’s breath
Will blithe them away
Oh carry us off
On the great adventure!
To skip, spin, sift and settle
Elsewhere.
Somewhere.
Any-what-does-it-matter-where?
Only that they go.

Copyright Tina Towey 2021

This Place

Flung out 
Of the familiar,

Off kilter and beam
Again.
Suddenly,
On the edge of your own life
Uncentred.

This is it.
This place.
Where you find yourself.
Or rather do not,
Not recognisable
Any of it.

This place
And what then?

To try to get back
To the Before?

Or to centre here
In this place?
To start again
In this place?

And would it be ‘again’
Or afresh?
New and naked
Shivering into Now

Facing yourself.
Touching the mirror of this Moment
Tentative, hesitant and hoarse,
“There you are!”

Copyright Tina Towey 2021

All Of It

To see it All
The shot orange palette of sunrise and set
The glory roll of ocean breakers and the rich chocolate of ploughed earth
The hand of design
The hand of destruction.

To hear it All 
Windshush and howl through trees and chimneys
Spillsong of larks and waterfalls
The glad greeting of a friend
The voice of God.

To touch it All
Rough cool cotton and featherblow of a good pillow
The fur and felt skin of a fellow creature
The imagined horizon of our dreams
The heart of another.

To smell it All
The promise of snow in the white woolly air
Fresh bread, ripe strawberries, turned soil and roses
The sweet-sour stench of Autumn decay
The scents of birth - blood, bravery and baby scalp
The whiff of hope in a new beginning, aroma of a promised land.

To taste it All
Tang of good cheddar rolling in the mouth
The dancing tingle of chilled white wine on a Summer day
The acid of fear and anxiety
The sweet of peace.

To feel it All, oh yes!
The prickletickle of gemgreen grass on footsoles
The myriad kisses - rain on skytilted face
The joy of New
The pain of Loss.

To have and to hold All of It
To be part of All of It
To not flinch from All of it
To hold your nerve and cherish All of it.

To be Alive.

copyright Tina Towey 2021

Grief

If I stay
Absolutely
Still,
The shards of my exploded life
Will not
Rattle,
Grind against each other,
Fall from my internal hands
And shatter further

Perhaps even now,
In this sorry state,
They are fixable,
Can be pieced together
To Before.

But only if
I stay still, absolutely.
Do not disturb them
With Thought, or Action,
Or poke with an Emotion.

If I absolutely stay still.
Don’t even
Look at the Broken,
Maybe
Ignoring, avoiding
Will glue and reset
And I will seem again
To be Whole and Hold - 
Although, who could trust such a vessel?

If only 
Grief had not 
Caught me up unawares,
Dashed 
Me
Against that brute wall of silence
Between the Here and the Hereafter

But if I stay still,
Absolutely,
And yet mending is not possible.
And instead there is only carrying the pieces
What then?
How then?
When then?
Live my life?

copyright Tina Towey 2021

Follower

You have to remember,
Life was pretty dull and dusty.
Grimed in resentment towards
The Powers That Be -
The sand-scoured soldiers
Bitter and burnt
Far from home and fed up
With our surly compliance.
The priests and pharisees,
They were worse.
Disdainful and despising 
Us - the workaday Jews.

So following Jesus,
One of us but with an Edge,
New angles on right and wrong,
On should and could,
It was a blast.
A lot better than working anyway.
Laying it on thick with the parents,
“Exploring my faith…
Holy Man …”
Dad swallowed it - pleased.
Mum gave me one of her
Looks..

Because I was young
They insisted 
I come home to sleep each night.
This curfew -
 A frequent missing of signs and wonders
Of parables and discussions
Making do with hand me down participation.
But I got a first-hand share too.

Out in the sudden evening chill
He’d sometimes sit by our makeshift fire
Talking 
And listening.
He was interesting and interested.
He remembered what you told him.
He cared.
He was 
The most Alive person
I’d ever met
And great company.
That’s what kept me coming back.

Roaring with laughter 
On the road home
At the way he’d flummoxed
The tight-lipped and tight-minded
The furious frustrateds
With his wit and arguments.

It wasn’t hard to find him each time.
Somebody would tell somebody, would tell somebody
He was on the move
And we’d track him 
Following the clues and signs - 
A woman smiling, singing softly,
A man skipping blithe as a child
Declaring himself a miracle,
An empty village
Dustkick in the distance
Showing where everyone had gone 
To see him.

When it stopped
Being a lark,
Being exciting -
Rumours that the Great and Good
Were running out of patience
And he was running out of time
And Dad started begging me
To stop following
And Mum started following me following him -
I knew I’d keep going 
To the end.

I was there at Golgotha
Afraid, silent, appalled.
I never saw the tomb
Closed, open or empty.
I never saw him risen as others claimed.
I didn’t go preaching. 
I didn’t stay around.

In truth
Mum found me at Golgotha
And led me home by the hand,
A small child again.
Dad held his peace
Never even a hint of 
“I told you so”.
I blundered through the days,
Dull of wits, mood, feelings.

Then the rumours came
Of the body gone,
Risen or robbed,
Depending on the source.
Hope sparked.

There came a day,
Our Rabbi and his cronies
Scoffing at two resurrection preachers
Come to town.
One of them I recognised;
His words faltering, 
But his faith firm.

I went and stood beside him,
Said I believed their testimony.
Rabbi and rabble full of scorn
Demanding evidence.
Mocking my inarticulate “I just know”

And then a calloused hand on my shoulder,
Dad,
Quiet and reasonable,
Asking them where was their proof
That it wasn’t true.

A bit of blustering 
And head shaking;
Then they left.
A small knot of Questioners
Staying to hear more.
Dad squeezed my shoulder,
Nodded.
I nodded back.
I was so proud of him,
But I didn’t say it.
We never did 
Say much.

He went home.
I stayed on to listen more.
But when the two left,
I didn’t go with them.
There was no need.

But there was a need to stay.
It just seemed wrong
To leave Mum and Dad
To leave their love.

I stayed home.
I tried to be 
A good son
And later
A good husband,
A good father.
I never really went 
Anywhere else again.

But I did follow
Down all the days
I still followed.

Copyright Tina Towey 2020







Illiterate

John 8:3-11
Sick with fear
A stone already in my thoat
Waiting for the real ones
To follow the hurled accusations.
Those flint faces,
With pitiless pebble eyes,
Fists clenched around cold certainty 
And hard religion.

But then a holy man -
I think he must have been,
I don’t know - 
Writing on the ground.

What did he write?
How would I know?
I’m just a woman;
I can’t read!

And it wasn’t what he wrote,
But what he said.
Stopped them.
Silenced them.
Sent them away.

Everyone knew what I’d done.
No idea what they had been up to,
But clearly No Good!
Even now when I see one of them
They won’t look me in the eye.

It’s just what he said
After they’d gone.
No.
Told me to do - stop doing.
That I couldn’t, can’t ignore.

Was it,
Is it,
Easy
To stop
Being with the one you love?
The one you’ve broken
God’s law for.
To fight the ache
To bear it
A life sentence of Lonely
Instead of that death sentence?

I am not Good.
I try.
I fail.
But whatever else I do wrong,
I will keep doing this
Hardest Thing
Right; 
Not reach for, look for 
My lover’s touch again.

I can’t read or write,
But those words,
All of them,
They’re written in me.
And even I can understand.

You can be found guilty - 
And I definitely was - 
And yet
Be pardoned,
Not punished.

There’s this word
I do know,
Though I can’t read or write it.

Mercy.

copyright Tina Towey 2020

Sleeping For Grief

Lk 22:45
Only someone who never lost someone
would be surprised that we were 
sleeping for grief.

It's the shock.
The revelation, realisation
that Death is coming,
will not be blustered or argued aside,
will not be fought off.

Death of hopes, love, dreams,
Life.
Anyone who has known these,
or seen them waiting just up ahead,
has been tempted
to pull the covers over their head;
sleep through the dull, numb 
nightmare
and push back the waking moment 
of 'Gone'.

So once we finally
understood
what we had been told,
before and before and before.
Once we could no longer
block out that understanding,
it was a wave of Misery
that hit us
Cold and Brute
and sucking back
draining us
of all but Dread.

Were we sorry that we fell asleep?
Stupid question!
Could we have stayed awake?
I don't think so.

Who has been asked to pray,
wanted to pray for someone beloved,
and been unable
for the very reason that
they love so much?

Grief 
possesses, paralyses
silences and shuts down.

I could wish for you
that you'd never have to understand this,
but that would be to wish you
less than human,
to never have loved fathoms drowning deep.

It wasn't that we didn't care enough,
but because we cared too much
that we were sleeping for grief.
copyright Tina Towey 2020

Let Quiet Come

Let Quiet Come
And torment with calm Peace busyness
Into Stop.

Let eyelids close and looks go inward
To accept the dark Nothing.

Let mind closet
And snap to the clasps
On all bright apish ideas and notions
So the New may
Possess the yawning space
Between boredom and birth.

Let limbs loose to lassitude and liquid
That movement and activity are stilled.

Let all of me unravel.

Let me be.
Let me be still.
Let me be still and know.
Until.

copyright Tina Towey 2020

The Better Man

My father Jacob had fought an angel

And had a limp to prove it.

We, his sons by Leah,

Awestruck.

A pack of puppies scrabbling for his attention.

Cuffed with affection and irritation by turns

But then there was Joseph.

 

If not for the dreams

None of it would have happened.

A spoilt brat

Asking what they meant, when he knew full well!

Who couldn’t interpret them –

“Better than you”.

Poking us with his visions of greatness.

Goading us to react.

 

And that coat!

That was the other thing.

The rest of us out with the stinking stock all day.

No special coats for us.

And that little sneak,

Telltale,

Rewarded for his shyness and spying

With a coat fit for a prince.

 

The unfairness of it

Boiling inside us.

Merciless as the sun that awful day,

The will to kill.

But I, reason winning out,

And my heart for our father,

Saved him (I thought)

Put him alive in the well, not dead in the ground.

Teach him a lesson.

Give my brothers time to calm,

And me time to rescue him later.

 

When they told me he was sold

I stopped breathing

Thought I would die on the spot.

Sold!

Already haunted by his face as we’d lowered him down,

I couldn’t, wouldn’t imagine

The fear, the fright, the begging tears.

And now, only now, the others considering

“What will we tell the old man?”

 

So the next plan was mine too,

And the burden mine.

To bear the bloodied coat,

Like a murdered baby,

Back to Jacob’s arms.

 

All the years then following,

Watching him wounded now within,

A heart limp to partner his sore hip.

It was worse that he would not blame us.

But we, we avoided each other’s eyes and company

Which he mistook for grief.

 

Young Benjamin consoled him somewhat,

A new favourite – petted, praised and overprotected.

But no-one dared resent him.

Once was enough.

And besides, he was just a lad,

Not a Joseph.

And there was no coat.

 

When famine came, we felt responsible.

Punished.

I still loved my brothers,

But I thought we deserved to die.

Not Benjamin though, or father, or our families.

So with begging bowls to Egypt to see the Great Man.

All well enough until… that missing cup.

I knew it was a plant.

The look on Benjamin’s face

Echo of another’s years before.

Not again!

Stammering, begging, pleading to take his place.

 

The world tilted.

The Great Man wept words.

Impossible! Joseph alive!

For a sickening space,

I conjured an executioner.

Retribution for my indefensible failure to defend him.

But then,

Reconciliation, not revenge,

Reunion, not recrimination.

Our father also, too beyond joy

To question how and why.

 

Forgiven then, but never forgotten,

On my side at least.

On Joseph’s – never a sign of anything but love.

Once or twice, I tried a halting word

Bumping into the memory when we were alone,

But he would gently guide me round it,

A friend to a blind man.

 

And so I have come to see

If not for all the wrongs of yesterday,

We would not have lived to today.

I tell my children this –

Whatever you have done or failed to do, there is always hope.

 

And another thing I see.

Joseph was right all along.

He was and is a better man than any of us,

Than I.

Copyright Tina Towey 2020