It was the fifth of November
When suddenly out of the still and foggy evening sky
Came a loud bang from the left and scream to the right
As splashes of colour glimmered for seconds above me
Smells of chemicals drifted by
Visual memories of childhood flashed before my eyes
Before jumping with another bang louder than before
Like an unseen enemy approaching closer and closer
The whistling did not stop them
The echoing of spits and bangs sounding like guns
As the red then seemed to dominate the colour above
Had the troops now gone over the top in war’s name
Sparklers waved in the distance
Catching my left eye with their hypnotic swaying song
A sign of hope that all was not lost to this new enemy
And the stars would soon return to wish upon again
© Fi S. J. Brown
It is funny how some days and events are engrained in the memory long after they occurred. Twenty five years ago my parents marriage was over, the day is as clear now as then, combined with being muted of words and feelings to be expressed left me alone and unable to express the world I now felt part of. I already knew things were not right with their marriage, and my father leaving for another woman did not surprise either as already knew he was having an affair with someone else but as an eleven year old I was not able to say as much as was what my instincts had said for months. My father was the parent I could trust, my mother was not, making the blade of pain that bit sharper that felt like it cut me up day after day as she sunk in her venom like a snake.
I hurt for days to months and years after the day itself as like so much in life it is the ripple or domino effects we feel from the actions of others. It is only as an adult can I put myself in the shoes of both parents; to think of and empathise with the emotions and feelings they were going through. What that day continues to teach me is how important communication is and the children should not be left in tearful mute because the adults do not talk on issues. My father managed to highlight again how poor a communicator he and my mother are by neither expressing what the “split” actually meant. Why could someone not say it meant it was over. My step mother could not understand as I tried to explain to her things I could not change or have done differently then when in contact after a decade of paternal estrangement.
I have learnt that we need to talk to each other and accept things in life, no matter how hard they seem today because these are the foundations of tomorrow. Thus dwelling on the past means we cannot enjoy what the present has and it soon will be but a memory too. I may not speak to my father again but that is my choice as this day was the domino for times he’s hurt and/or let me down when I have tried. My mother still will never move on from that day, many a time she still sees me as that eleven year old girl, not the woman of almost thirty seven. All our actions have consequences, so remember that and the ripples they touch (the good and the bad). Life is not disposable, nor is it recycled, so appreciate those that bring us joy and love, not bring us down with negativity and jealous hate.
© Fi S. J. Brown
Today marks the birthday of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, with many having a traditional meal with a haggis but not me. Many of us that grew up in Scotland will remember learning his works at school, I still stumble to understand and read them now. However, Burns was part of my childhood in a different way, as my beloved great uncle Lauderdale and I would always walk along the banks of the River Nith to the Robert Burns Centre in Dumfries.
Although there was a play area outside I seldom played on it, instead we’d watch the majestic swans gliding on the river, the deer that lived on a near by hill but nobody could explain to me why they were trapped in a wire cage not free to roam and the changing colours of the leaves, like the world we live in, which was often a theme of our discussions. This was in stark contrast to the exhibitions at the centre, which would never seem change; we’d laugh when the statue inside of Burns had a paint job between visits, as the centre seemed lost in a time I did not know and my great uncle had seen and now gone.
Lauderdale helped me to see as it really is, the only time that matters is now, and life’s only constant is change, although some things may seem constant with no apparent change. Yes as an adult I would love to spend another hour in his company, and feel safe with my hand in his as he’d smoke his pipe and wear his deerstalker hat, which always made his long white beard smell. Even now if I smell it in the air, I swear at times it’s him keeping me company or checking I am okay. So Mr Burns, Happy Birthday, and once more I’ll walk along the Nith with my great uncle Lauderdale.
© Fi S. J. Brown
There is something uniquely special, intimate and comforting about holding someone’s hand. Perhaps as it something that reminds us of earliest childhood, that comforting feeling when a large hand enclosed our little one, creating bonds and memories throughout our lifetimes. Then as we become teenagers we no longer want to feel the hand in ours as want to feel the freedom of not being tied to our parents or anyone else.
We touch or hold hands with the person we love as bonds us together, symbolising that two souls are touching and uniting. It may not be a kiss but a clear signal to ourselves and others of our love for another. A Pagan wedding tradition is for handfasting, which entails gentle wrapping cords around the bride and groom’s clasped hands and tying a knot, symbolically binding the couple together in their declaration of unity.
As adults ourselves, we are the ones with the big hands, which comfort and bond with our little ones. We connect with friends and strangers alike in stress and crisis. We also want to hold our parents hands as now look wrinkled and older now, they seem more fragile as the child’s and want to relive our own happy and carefree memories from childhood without the responsibilities that being a grown up has brought to us.
© Fi S. J. Brown
As I approach the thirty sixth anniversary of my birth, I walk up the hill with an observatory that I have climbed many times before, often in the company of a four legged friend of fur and bark. However, today I walk alone to reflect not the lens of a telescope to the stars but my mind on the journey I have taken so far to reach the point I am at today.
As I walk, I look out to a city that became my place of birth after an eleventh hour decision meant I was not born where my journey had biologically started. This city of birth is also the place of many childhood memories that now echo across where I look and make trees sway as feel their vibrations. Many of the trees look on fire, not with passion but as a warning not to dwell on the past for too long. If look close some are shedding their leaves in empathetic tears to the memories they now feel from my memories, good and bad.
I think back to my earliest days, filled with wonder to the world around me and curious to its ways like a newborn puppy yet as wise as an owl in what I seemed to know. I remembered a world that was filled with many colours, but school and family taught me that it was black or white; they replaced the songs of birds and rivers with their own drills and guns; they said I had five senses but I was sure I could pick up at least twice that; and gave me pills to sedate me from asking the questions I wanted answers to, as could or would not answer them. The grown-ups ultimately told of a world of them and us, where the humans ruled over all that l could see and deeper, wider and higher than my eyes could; they were only judged by a man named god, who had created it all and forgave if I did wrong as long as I asked him to.
As I became a grown-up myself I felt a boomerang effect, in whatever I did and wherever I went this city would bring me back. Sadly, I never wanted to be back, in fact quite the opposite, I longed to explore the world like the explorers I read about in childhood books and was not content to do it from a seat any more. At the same time, those around me were settling in “normal” life: getting a job, finding a partner, setting up home and having kids. I felt like an alien in a world to which I did not or would ever belong. Restricted to a tourist visa but not granted citizenship to this world.
Like a circus freak in Victorian times since my earliest teens I wanted to hide away, as my head said I looked like the love child of Frankenstein’s monster and the Hunchback of Notre Dane, an unloveable ogre with growths over my body, and faults greater than San Andreas. I often wondered on making my curtain call, I had enough of being a player in someone else’s movie and being used by those I thought I could trust. When I took what I wanted to be my final bow, I fell not on concrete but autumn leaves, leaving no visible scars but many scratches that I could not itch. Picking the pieces up I knew only I could glue them as there was no one but me there to add glitter or shine.
Much of my life I felt like a donkey among the thoroughbred horses in a race of life, but against the odds I completed a degree, masters two and PhD before I reached the age of 32. When I signed off my final word on my doctorate, I took my own Hippocratic Oath, never to work or study in a laboratory again! The relief felt like I had been given the chance to start again from where I had last saved, which turned out to have been almost twenty years before. So I picked up my pen and let the colours, visuals, sounds, tastes, feelings and smells of that moment release like a series of tributaries forming one big river with each ones strengths and weaknesses.
Now I return my thoughts to today, spinning around on where I stand, thinking where in each direction I could go next without the boomerang pulling me back here. I thought of people that I knew in every one, the special people who’s emails, texts, and phone calls make me smile like I could never have imagined but two years before, for it hurt my face to even try. Whereas now I could share my journey with them, sharing in tears of both pain and laughter. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I know where I have been. Life has a bittersweet taste but the colours, sounds, visuals and things that belong beyond my wildest dreams are within my touch, so I’m going to take a leap and follow them wherever they may take me next.
© Fi S. J. Brown
Perhaps because I never knew my grandparents, who died before I was born, the previous generation to my parents enchanted me in childhood. Their wisdom gained through living in times I could only imagine and how different the world that changed around me daily through my young eyes but to them must have felt like a different world to them. A place filled with hard times and bloody wars they had survived to be met with the concrete jungles of corporate buildings of fifty shades of grey and a sound like drones of bees in a hive, which were growing across the land instead of old forests of greens, reds, oranges and yellows filled with unique sounds, smells, words and tastes.
My guide to the world then was my Great Uncle Lauderdale. His role was to awaken me to use all my senses, look for every colour and shade, take in the changes at home and away. When we were together, be it in his little room away from the noise of my great aunt playing a game his father had made with a home-made die or walking along the River Nith proudly with a man who looked like a slim Santa Claus and Sherlock Holmes in one, perhaps the beard, hat and pipe gave him even greater wisdom beyond his years. He was a gentle man, I never once heard him angry at anyone. He gave me powerful gifts and insights, which he encouraged me to use in oral and written form.
I was not related by blood to my great uncle but the memories I share of him for nineteen years play back in my mind as happy times. A person that I will forever be grateful that touched my young life and showed me the world as I continue to see it. Earlier this month marked 110 years since his birth, so wanted to write a little thank you note and feel his presence once again, remember the times of happiness in a childhood that had many tears. In the autumn leaves as I walk I can smell his pipe and we’ll go one day again to walk along the river. I may have felt his passing as he died those years ago but his gifts to me will never die and it is these gifts I share with you now in my writing.
© Fi S. J. Brown