A poem and related musings.
Do not expect this to be my best work. I am writing it directly into the Substack app, immediately after the thought has crystallised.
That said, that is almost exclusively how I write my best poetry.
If you can, listen to this whilst reading (works on different tabs on PC, or with Youtube Premium on phone/tablet)
A long way back I lent you to a girlfriend
in hopes I was showing human emotion
and she laughed at you
said I ought to throw you away
I’ve done that now but at what cost?
twelve years hence and further back
I lost a good part of my childhood
I guess the question is
what else remains?
when I’ve given the good away
for other children
your little body
not seeded with trauma, smiles outward at the world
and I hope some little boy or girl is loving you
as I once did, as I still do
I realise now that I regret giving you away
but there was no room and a part of me needed to die
to get here
I shed my skin to pass through the door
I leave my flesh behind
All that’s here now are stories to tell
and faces in crowds
the stage is my island
and I will make the best of being shipwrecked, for you
I won’t be readint that back for a while.
I wrote this as a sleep-deprived 30 year old.
Why am I sleep deprived you ask.
Because I threw away an old toy several months ago.
It’s the language that stings.
My dad trained me to feel immense guilt for getting rid of old things, even if it was the utilitarian thing to do. It got so intense that even now, giving a childhood doll to a charity shop in hopes another child might love her has left me unable to sleep properly for several weeks. I am only just learning now, at 30, that if I sell an old thing my family won't disown me.
It only creeps in when days are quiet. When I am alone in the house. Sometimes I have to call my mum and ask her if she is upset that I cleaned out my old things. Of course she isn’t, but dad always would be. It led to me becoming someone that someone else would once describe as ‘materialistic’. I like my treasures, sure, but I could live without them.
The issue underneath this poem is really one of cold utility. If the doll went to a landfill I would be fucking furious. I would blister my hands to find her. If she is in the hands of a smiling child I will die knowing I did the right thing. I would not be able to take the doll back, because I would know she was spreading happiness beyond the bounds of my own skull. She was in a box in my room, gathering dust, and I could not possibly keep everything. I had many, many toys as a child. Moreso than the rich kids in school (they had one iPad that could tell the future and braid their hair whilst cooking 5 star meals, but fuck all else).
Ultimately, losing things, whether intentional or not, is a small symbolic death.
And I have passed through many of those. And more are on the way.
Thanks for reading.