Poem for my big sister Jill

unspecified

I wanted to give you a poem
eighty years back
when you were first-born
and armies were rising
and peace receding.
You learned about consultation
in the womb.

I wanted to give you a poem
to thank you
for protecting me
and holding my hand
and showing the way
and making peace
without any fights or feuds
or atom bombs.

The poem sat in my head for weeks
waiting for Mother’s attention.
On a short dark day
lop-sided day
turn-around day
a fence of shards and sand
and shrapnel sprang up
between the poem and me.

So I clambered over the fence
ripping my shorts
on splinters
lost a shoe
and clambered back to you
the almost perfect baby
to give you what you lacked
the one thing all big sisters need:

your very own big sister
just like Jill
to shelter and protect you
and hold your hand
and take the lead
on dark days
and on bright days too
the way big sisters do.

with love from Rachel 23 June 2016

Survival kit

seal

Being alive involves
a certain quantity of losing,
maybe six per cent.

Ships planes and
hospital beds, letters
from head office and
blunders all contribute.

The soul travelling
looks for a cloud
and even in the sea
dehydration is
the greatest danger.

The wise provide
for such emergencies.

Knowing a friend may leave
at any time they hoard food
and water, especially water,
and bandage up the heart in advance.

This way they can afford to cry.
Which is right and proper
and the heart does not leak
and they say Yes, yes
I am saved, I have not shrivelled.

Good, good we all understand—
except for how and why at times
a person cries
from the opposite of losing,
from a kind of overflow.

*

Rachel McAlpine