I wanted to write a poem about ‘stillness’. I am a classic introvert who can find over stimulating environments exhausting. Given that I am a teacher and a mother I am quite often in over stimulating environments, I am quite often exhausted. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children and my job passionately; I thrive on the buzz and the chatter of being constantly surrounded by little learners. But, in my own time, and in my own space I cherish a little bit of solitude and a space to engage with my thoughts. Within my stillness I love music, reading, thinking. I love to write and I write, primarily for myself, a mixture of the eclectic jumble of what is going on in my head and in my life. My blog reflects this. It is a disorganised collection of posts about teaching, about being a mum, poems, prose, photograph albums. I don’t plan what I write, it appears in my head and grows into something with its own life. I love that about writing, I love that my subconscious climbs out of its box and stretches it’s legs for a while and that my conscious brain allows these moments of restless scribbling to give it some permanence. It can be shockingly enlightening and utterly cathartic.
So I was writing a poem about ‘stillness’. I wanted to capture what I love about re-energising in a tranquil space. The poem was going to be about mindfulness, and how I feel centred in the quiet moments. I wanted my poem to describe how stillness can help me to connect with how I am feeling emotionally or spiritually and how this can be a centring and grounding experience. A line came to me for the poem, some music went on. I got comfy, I climbed into my ‘zone’ and I wrote.
I wrote about ‘stillness’.
Here it is.
The sinking in the stillness,
Of socks and blankets warming toes.
We are waiting in this stillness
when nothing comes and nothing goes.
Embracing in the stillness,
Is quiet light that floods a room.
There’s singing in the stillness,
a favorite song,
and silence breathing breath that’s gone.
The quiet of this stillness,
Is hand on hand,
the warmth of skin.
And waiting in the stillness,
Is breath breathed out and breath breathed in.
My sorrow in the stillness,
A tear that falls, the stillness claims.
I’m praying in this stillness,
My whisper breathes your dying name.
A breath that’s come and gone again.
I’m not expecting my poem to speak to anyone else, that’s not why I wrote this post. I know that it isn’t a work of ‘poetic art’, I’m not after any kind of applause. But, I did want to speak about the process of writing it which, for me, was a little bit of an ‘epiphany’. It was clear to me after about 30 minutes of writing and redrafting the first verse a few times that I was not, in fact, writing about my own ‘stillness’ at all but was describing the last few hours of my fathers life as I sat in the chair next to his bed just over a year ago. The words (“socks and blankets warming toes”) that arrived in to the poem without any conscious connection on my part evoked in me such a physical and emotional response that I found myself crying as I was writing- and making sense of emotions that I had, perhaps, suppressed in the chaos that follows a significant family member dying. I then spent some time in ‘my stillness’ thinking about my father, thinking about sitting with him, thinking about the impact on myself of watching him die. I looked at photographs, I listened to his favourite song . I looked at the photo I took of his hand in mine the day before he died and I tried to remember his voice. I sat in my stillness and grieved and cried and made sense of it all. My stillness provided me with space and peace, and my writing gave me the perfect outlet for that.
Writing is amazing,
Be still and write.