His skin

13.18pm (in the studio)

It is a relief that the din of the chainsaws has stopped and the tranquility of pit pat rain is all that I hear.

Rain falls. The leaves fall, forming huge piles at the sides of the road. The piles are sodden. Swept mountains of summer gone.

P is in surgery, its nothing serious, a routine operation, still I am anxious. See I really care. I hardly slept, I wanted to make sure I saw him before he left the house.

I am waiting. Waiting for a text to collect him.

Mum and Dad are paying us a surprise visit, they have returned from their northern home for a few days. Its terrible timing, but they are coming over, I miss them. I need to see them. It will be fine, P will just be sleeping, recovering in bed, I will be glad of some company.

I have to spend 24 hours inside with him. Watching over. I am a terrible nurse. I can nurse children, but I struggle to have the patience to care for adults……..care its all care.

Each morning I take off Naoise night clothes when he is still sleeping. I slip clothes off his legs. I pull off his top. I replace night clothes with uniform, then he snoozes a little longer. I wake Syd. I stroke his hair to raise him gently.

Naoise skin, translucent, soft, and downy blonde white hair. I observe scratches, faint bruises from falling on the tarmac in the school yard. I see scabs mending.


I forgot to take Naoise guitar into school, so I had to go home and then back into school again. I am so absent minded. I cannot contain everything. I cannot remember all the forms to fill, the pounds for poppies, the reading book to read.

In the studio remembering how to draw. The weight of line. Drawing bodies leaking breast milk. Enjoying the flow of the ink on the surface of the paper. Repetition. Practice. Drawing breasts and nipples and pregnant bellies filled with safety pins.

The river flows full.

The ink.

A line of miniature clothes pegs red, green, yellow, blue, purple.

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I walk along the pavement to the shop to buy lunch. I struggle to walk the pavement as I meet the crocodile of primary school children. I splosh in the puddles. Water stains the tan leather of my shoes.

I have an interview next Thursday. I actually got an interview for the Breast feeding Peer Support Co-ordinator job, so now I must read, read, read, prepare, prepare. I have to do a role playing activity, god how I hate role play. My friend is an actress, she says she will help me prepare. Prepare with some improvisation. I will make her the queen of breastfeeding. I question the purpose of the activity; apparently its to test my people skills , I shouldn’t worry. I shouldn’t worry says the kind woman on the other end of the phone. A parent is coming in. So at least its not make believe.

I bought a skirt in the charity shop, hopefully a lucky red skirt. It reminded me of the autumn and my mum. Its all russet, and leaves and a thin satin ribbon around the top. Mustn’t eat too much between now and Thursday, it just fits my waist. I need a brown top, brown tights and a pink, red or brown cardigan to match. If nothing else I will dress up, tame my werewolf eyebrows, slip lipstick across my lips, where my favourite red shoes.

I ordered a book. I think of breastfeeding as a political act. I ordered a book that I saw on my friends Facebook wall, (The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business by Gabrielle Palmer). My friend is a midwife. A clever, creative woman. She knows the best books to read.

Put your arm around me mum. Arm over. Arm over. He requests in the middle of the night. I put my arm over. I feel his small body, so warm. Little Naoise. Precious boy. In his sleep so deep, so peaceful. Arm over. 

Mummy come back, don’t get up. Mummy come back. 

Hold time. Hold it. Hang on to your sons. Hold on. Hold them close. Hug. Love. Adore.

Stroke his hair. You notice his hair, where it has been shaved. You notice how he reminds you of his dad. Your hand traces the contours of his skull, the texture of his hair. He gently stirs.

He shows you his woodwork project, a moving photograph frame of cogs. Its impressive. He comes alive as he explains it. I adore my son. I adore my elder son. Taller than me. Almost a man. A faint shadow of facial hair beginning to appear. I hear you. I hear you.


His words engraved in my mind. He has a way with words. Sometimes gentle. Sometimes angry. Sometimes expressing love. Sometimes about the joy of riding a bike. Simple song lyrics.

Hang up the socks, the pants, the t-shirts, the pairs of jeans. Hang them up on the laundry rail and the radiator. Hang them up in neat rows. Wet clothes filling the damp house with damp. The whole valley is damp. Damp rising in my heart. A valley home of moisture. River, reservoir, rain, puddle, canal. Wall. Stone. Cobble. Heather. Mud. Path. Moor. Thick bog grass. Yellow. Grey.

P had his leg shaved. When I spoke to him he had marker pen drawn on the leg that was to be operated on. Talking to him, I think of waxy Robert Gober sculptures, legs protruding from walls.

Is he waking. Is he waking.

I hear the studio buzzer, but I pretend not to hear it.

Where does time go, I would rather be around the ones that care. The ones that care. (Billie Marten) 

I remember looking at the mushroom growing in the field. Looking at all the veins underneath. The circle of the mushroom, the pinkish grey.  Thinking of it as a clock. Line upon line, marking out time. Passing. Hold. Record. Long for. Except its beating, walk with its pace.

Your skin. Your delicate skin. A red mark. A blemish. Porous. Open. Breath. Lungs. Red pulsing veins.

A dream home. Chickens, a studio. Hugging children. Sitting in a garden. The sea. The sun. Warmth. Blue.

I hang my hopes out on the line. ( Billie Marten) 

Hold my hand. Hold my body. Hold my hand. Hold my hand tight, your little hand in mine. Gentle skin. I guide you. You holding my hand. Holding my hand is the best ever. I LOVE YOU.

Teenage boy wrap your arms around me, you make your mum so happy when you wrap your arms around me. A strong hug. A hug of a boy almost a man.

Man make me a cup of tea. Man help me with the dishes. Shower our children in love and happiness. All of us sleeping; sleeping, talking, walking, singing, dreaming, making mess and playing.

Screaming. Crying. Being cheeky and naughty and sarcastic.

Plastic toy jumble everywhere, staples and wax crayons, felt tips and books and little metal cars in the bathroom to trip you over and warm mugs of milk, and half eaten pealed bananas.

Sip tea. Brew tea. Sip tea. Stay AWAKE.




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