The return

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To return
To a place
I felt not in but out of,
From a sense of obligation
And commitment.
Sets of rules and strategies
I had no part in setting,
Goalposts I have no interest in aiming for…

My heart is heavy
I can feel its weight sinking down,
Lead poisoned,
into my stomach.

Life is short
And good health a privilege,
A bonus
Not to be taken for granted
Squandered or misused.

Talent is a perishable gift
With a best before date.
Needing nurture and nourishment
Not neglect.

Duty will make me return
To post.
Passion,
Belief
Attention
To the lift of mind and spirit
At the rhythm of word and sound,
Tune and tone,
Will steer me away.

If I listen to the rise and fall
Of my breath
On an air or a reel,
My pulse will match the pace
Which I could follow….
If I listen…

‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

Marianne Williamson

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Without a safety net?

Taking risks is a strange and confusing business in Britain these days.
Health and safety has become a huge industry in its own right, demanding risk assessments in all aspects of public life.
We have to see potential danger everywhere, forced to become so paranoid that it’s surprising we even get out of bed in the mornings.
Only hardened high risk junkies ride bikes, climb rock faces, hang glide or step on the cracks in pavements.
Or bankers..they don’t seem to mind a bit of a risk…although its not really their risk… They have airbags and parachutes made out of £50 notes and cheques signed by Mr Osborne.

So the ‘accidents will happen’ adage is becoming obsolete, a dinosaur in the litigious ice age of ‘where there’s blame there’s a claim’

Six weeks ago, had I completed a risk assessment before undertaking my leg breaking activity, I would not now be with broken leg. Spontaneity, I am the victim of spontaneity.

As a teacher, I am not allowed to take a group of teenagers off the school premises without a whole shit load of pre-written paperwork, even if it is only 100 metres away to visit another school.
I used to be able to go out on a rare sunny afternoon and treat a group of kids to an ice cream and a walk on the beach for good behaviour (cue wavy lines and random harp music again)

So, if when my friend phoned to say ‘Do you fancy a bike ride this morning?’ I had enquired ‘have you completed the risk assessment?’ I would not be sitting here alone in this bed of cushions, with a collection of crutches and a Zimmer on the side (is there a collective noun for mobility aids?) From now on I will demand full paperwork, signed by my next of kin, before leaving it.

Hanging from the wall, twice our height,
By my finger tips
I let go.
Adrenalin rush and trust…
I always bounce
If not
A scab on the knee
Is a fine medal of honour
For an outdoor girl.
When it’s my turn
I go again
And again,
Dangling,
Daring,
Dropping down,
Down..until the bell rings
And we have to go back to class.

And on the grassy bank
That became a glacier
in the January cold
We slid, in Clarks shoes,
Slipping, standing or sitting
From top to base,
Over and over
No killjoy shovels of salt and grit
To spoil it.

Were we tougher,
Rougher?
Or was it just because
We had Tiger Feet to land on?

Outstanding

Tears for fear of discovery,
Afraid to reveal the senseless, spiralling
landscape of letters
That batter her brain,
Defeating logic and reason
Displacing any possibility of understanding.

At eleven she is ashamed,
Embarrassed by her inability to distinguish
b
from d
from p
from 9

She has yet to notice
the light in the background
The hue and the shade.
Textures that weave and spin
Such patterns in her imagination

She is too busy hiding,
Disguising,
Avoiding.

At fifteen she is proud
Of the Twilight Saga, volume one,
And it’s 551 pages she carries
Under her arm in the school corridor.
Her conquest:
The head of a slain demon.

Her mind flooded with colour
Has captured and coded
And conquered.

Using weaponry offered,
By teacher/arms dealer,
Choosing those which sat most naturally in her grip,
In her grasp,
She battled and fought,
Forcing meaning
and story
and truth
From the marauding masses.

At twenty she is herself
And the tapestry of her talents
Slips seamlessly
From head
To heart,
To hands.
Textiles
Soft and sharp,
Bold and subtle
Layer upon layer of interlacing
Light and shade,
Designs displayed
In dress,
In drape.
Indeed.

That,
That indeed,
is outstanding education.

I can sing a rainbow…

Bouncing in like a weird flamingo,
you made the captive audience punctuate the air
with close fisted karate moves,
Comfortable in table zone,
Avoiding the writhing, slithering snake,
eying everything incredulously from the sidelines,
Wondering, greedily what flamingo tasted like?

You brightened up grey walls
where the memory of old urinals still lingered on warm days,
With sparkly feet and spotty tea pots,
pink princess mugs and tasty treasure,
Hidden away for a rainbow day.

Cerise legs dangling, data scanning,
You smiled to find an 85…we knew it,
Some of us just know it.

You have the instinct and the intuition,
Are both fearsome and fair,
And must
Must
Return to wear
The colours of imagination
The skittle scarf,
The burning hair….

The coiled snake will never,
Ever
Ever
Taste the rainbow
As he doesn’t know it’s there.

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