High Alert


Pressing anxious paws against my lower arm,
she marks my skin,
3kg of stiletto feet.

Easily startled, nerves like gum,
she twitches like a bird:
permanent fight or flight.

Even asleep, she is awake
and I worry:
what does this do to her?

by Rebecca L. Atherton


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Mixed Emotions

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Yesterday it was sunny
and I basked like a cat.

Today I am listening to the rain come down
while inside different parts of me cry.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Precious things


 
You came into my house and took without thanking;
and even though I gave you all that I had,
all that I was able:
it wasn’t enough.

In the silence of your departure,
I examine my loss:
unpicking it and licking it
until it calcifies.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Rock face


 
All she wants is for the man inside to show up –
not as a child or as a petulant teenager,
angry at the world and at her –
but as an adult, as himself.

A bit of compassion,
kindness…
mindfulness and presence,
would also be nice.

And yet…
living inside his stone fortress,
imprisoned inside layer upon layer of himself,
he watches but cannot not act.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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This little thing


 
I expand on the outside
as she grows within:
this little thing,
no bigger than an aubergine.
Tomorrow, she will be a baked potato.
Next week, a marrow perhaps?

I wonder what she’ll be like
when she comes out
and if she’ll look like my cat,
who has sat on top of her for days
keeping a tab on the various ways
I am changing.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Stuck

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Sometimes, spoken things have more potency than one desires;
said “spoken” things hurting, cutting, impaling,
creating wounds and drawing blood.

Sometimes was today,
and yesterday and the day before that,
and the wounds are still bleeding red.

Unresolved, open-ended,
party to a conversation part-done:
there is no moving on or away from.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Frogging 

Gut raw.
Bleeding emotions.
Avoiding interaction, just in case.

Feeling the aftermath of a night spent
spinning and dancing,
twisting to avoid colliding

with unpleasant things
like heat and rage
and a body invested in self-destruction,

unpicking and undoing
everything
that time and love hath made.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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What I would like 

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A misunderstanding turns what should
have been special into something plain
and the associated pain hurts more
than I care to describe.

I stare at the window and will
what is real into something else,
replacing what is
with what I would like.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Learning to dance again

Opening a closed heart can be dangerous;
especially if you have not adequately prepared.
Just look at Pandora and what happened to her!
In the end though, there is no other way:
denial only prolonging what will one day find a way out.

Navigating extreme feelings –
emotions that threaten to overwhelm
the casing in which they reside –
I battle the urge to run backwards,
something external holding me to the floor.

Placing hands on parts I have for years now
happily suppressed – suffocating, starving,
ignoring… until they appeared to die –
I listen as they wake back up:
hungry, angry, needy.

Tears fall, sobs escape, screams wrench
and I keen like a mother grieving an infant: open, raw, exposed.
And while it might take a while,
for the denial runs deep:
even this small freedom is a respite.

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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Lavender, tea tree and Himalayan salt

Autumn leaves coat the pavement
like careless gems,
their silent bodies slowly rotting.

Likewise, a finger glowers and sweats,
unhappily attached to a hand so busy surviving,
it hurts more than it helps.

Days later, betrayed by Mary, Jesus, God,
lavender, tea tree and Himalayan salt,
the body interferes

insisting on manufactured
ointments, pills and plasters
to cover and protect what it cannot heal.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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