Nine times out of ten I write about real things in my life. Because of this, I am able to be totally raw, which is both good and bad. With cooking you only need a little garlic and onion, and tears flow involuntarily. It’s brilliant to be able to evoke your reader’s feelings. Too much raw onion or garlic can overpower, causing heartburn or thrown in with other ingredients, mixed and made into something marvellous, or not. Cooking and writing are similar, just one uses words and one, food. Personally, I like to think of poetry as food for the mind and soul.
At the start of March, Dad passed away whilst my two sisters and mum and I were with him. He had been sick for a long time and when Mum rang, I hurried to the hospital. It was just horrible to see my Dad, or anyone for that matter, helpless, and just, there! I couldn’t believe that my dad was now on palliative care. Five days, of heartbreak watching him decline before our very eyes. It broke me as I could also see minute by minute, a little bit of my Mum died too, as we watched helplessly for the inevitable. I have spent the last few weeks and months writing, and poetry and journaling has and still is giving me a little comfort. I wrote this in January and edited it in February, we knew his surgery in January would only buy him some time, we just didn’t realise, how little. You can have all the money and fame in the world, but time and health can’t be bought.
© Grace O’Reilly Jan/Feb 2022
My heart aches
My insides feel like shattered glass
It hurts to breathe
My eyes heavy, with tears and exhaustion
Watching someone you love deteriorate
Struggling for real breaths
Their delicate heart fragile
Waiting for their heart to break,
Stop for good, is heart-breaking in itself
And when that inevitable time comes
A part of my own heart will be chipped,
This next poem, I wrote just after Dad’s funeral. Emotional numbness is very surreal, and can only be temporary, if you are to get passed whatever it is that has made you numb or you are being numbed from. Otherwise, you are not living, you are merely, surviving. Tapping into music, reading and writing helps me, for others it can be drawing, painting, knitting, pottery, cooking, baking, gardening, and if it helps as a therapeutic remedy, well that is a start.
© Grace O’Reilly 7.3.2022
Living in a haze
This week has been a maze
Full of hectic craze.
I wish of all the days
Filled with hues of greys
And colourful bouquets
This time came with delays.
It didn’t, coming anyways!
Now all I have, is the sun’s rays
Bright stars where I gaze
As your body decays
Your soul dad, stays!
While the moon and shadow plays,
You are earth
You are air
You are water and fire
You are everywhere.
I am dazed
Keep hoping that this is a dreamer’s phase
But it’s not,
You, as I knew you are gone
While I watched my Dad slip further, and further away from us, poetry, was my Saving Grace. It was the one thing that I could do. Words! I sang to him while stroking his face. I spoke to him, holding his hands, moisturising them. I recited poetry, I knew by heart for him, and read from my very old, battered, yet treasured, and much-loved Robert Louis Stevenson poetry book ‘A Children’s Garden of Verses’. I read ‘The Moon’, (which I have rewritten in different words, it is called ‘Luna’), and ‘From a Railway Carriage’ amongst others. I also read him a poem, he used to recite to us many times, ‘Daisies’ by Frank Dempster Sherman.
© Frank Dempster Sherman
At evening when I go to bed
I see the stars shine overhead;
They are the little daisies white
That dot the meadow of the Night.
And often while I’m dreaming so,
Across the sky the Moon will go;
It is a lady, sweet and fair,
Who comes to gather daisies there.
For, when at morning I arise,
There’s not a star left in the skies;
She’s picked them all and dropped them down
Into the meadows of the town.
My Dad may be gone but this poem, I shall print out and frame and place proudly on the walls in my home as it reminds me of him. Mum is getting this poem put on his memorial cards. I will teach my children, and grandchildren this poem, and tell them Grandad Ollie, or Great Grandad Ollie used to say this to me and my two sisters when we were little and going to sleep, when he would tuck us in tightly, also saying, “don’t let the bedbugs bite”. He said that his mum, my paternal Granny, (Downes) used to recite it to him. I can keep that part of him going, and quite simply told that is how a poem becomes so very important, sentimental and timeless, as it came from a time in history.
(c) Grace O’Reilly
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Irish Poetry Therapy Network.