Friday, 7 June 2013

Neat-freaks and self-confessions

Okay, time for another soppy poem.

I am not much of a neat-freak, I have to admit. I’d like to be – well, actually I’d just like someone else to come and clean my house as fast as it gets messed up – which is pretty much daily.  When we were kids and I shared a room with my sister, she actually got to the point where she drew a line down the middle of the room because she got sick of my messiness! But now that I’m a growed-up Mummy, the job of chief bottle-washer & tidy-upper now appears to be mostly mine (don’t get me started on my feminist principles!), so I have learnt to put away after myself – and the 5 other people who live here,  not to mention the cat, dog and bird who consider themselves part of the family.  I’m betting for every parent out there, there is a time when the dust bunnies and cut-out messes drive you mad, so some aspect of this poem may resonate. Trying to keep my beliefs about mindfulness and presence in daily practice, this poem is a reminder to myself about what is really important.

I have been having this on-going discussion with myself and anyone else who will listen, ever since attending the Auckland Readers and Writers festival, about what makes good writing? Is it just enough to ‘express yourself’ or should you actually have to connect with an audience, have something to say, make a point, add to the reader’s life experience? I have to confess I just do not ‘get’ some of the really famous stuff. Am I being obtuse, just not sophisticated enough (both possibilities) or is the rest of the world as puzzled as I am, but Emperor’s clothes syndrome is preventing from anyone else from saying anything? Discussion welcome (Add a comment below)!

 Meanwhile, enjoy ‘The essence of you’

The essence of you

Sometimes I forget
The essence of you
And I get caught up
In the lost shoes
The mislaid jumpers
The solitary jandal
as if they were more important
in my misplaced priorities.

Sometimes I forget
The essence of you
When I see piles of crafty debris
Half-completed projects,
paint pots and staplers
Pages of your spider-writing
Weaving webs about the house
Paper cutouts all over the freshly vacuumed floor
Leaving a trail of destruction
In my organized mind.
Sometimes I forget
The essence of you
When the dust bunnies
under your bed
taunt me and laugh at me
As I discover
discarded underwear
they have been hiding
From my washed out thinking
Sometimes I forget
the essence of you
as I discover
that rattling sound from the drier
was your tooth
you had put in your pocket
when it came out at school
and refused to put
under your pillow
for the tooth fairy
because you “will not sell your body parts”
as I sell my sanity
Sometimes I forget
The essence of you
As your dinner plate tips
Food flops to the floor
In a splodge of spaghetti blob-inaise
And you contritely
use the hand towel
to clean it up
Leaving a greasy shine
on the just-washed lino
A smear on my psyche
Sometimes I forget
the essence of you
When I tuck you up in bed
a quick cuddle, a kiss
My tired body
aching for the couch
numbing TV
and a cup of tea
and you say
in your sleepy voice
“Mummy, I don’t want to do things wrong”
And suddenly
My litany of sins
Washes back over me
And I think of all the items I have lost
The things I have broken
The chaos which commands my cupboards
the virtual warren of dust bunnies
vicariously breeding under my bed
the half-done projects
I have been avoiding in my in-tray
And it’s all I can do
To stop myself saying
‘get used to it, baby’.
Instead I fight back the tears
And try to come up with something profound
That you can take away with you
On your years
“If you don’t make mistakes,
You won’t learn, darling”
“We all stuff up sometimes, sweetie,
it’s part of being human”
or maybe
a clever quote
from Dr Seuss
or Einstein
(Were they maybe
the same person?)
But all I can come up with,
As my heart melts
Is that nothing
is as important
There is nothing
I love more
than finding
strewn about the house
the essence
of you




  1. I love this and I love that I can hear your voice when reading this. I would love to hear YOU read this out loud, one day.

  2. Lovely poem.

    Regarding your question, I think if a writer wants to share their writing with an audience they should make some effort to give the audience a reward. There's an implied contract when you put your writing out for public consumption - there's something in it for the reader. If it's just you expressing yourself without offering anything of value to the reader, keep it between yourself and your therapist.

    In any case I don't get lots of stuff. Writing, art, music, philosophy. I tell myself it's the Emperor's invisible clothes (when it's probably just my philistinism showing).