I forgot your birthday

Two years ago,
after twenty,
I forgot your birthday
remembered in the evening
when there were candles on a cake for a different purpose.
This year though, this year.
Yesterday I could not recall the date. After twenty two years.
Perhaps it would be tomorrow
or perhaps two days before.

Of course it is, of course.
It’s today and always will be, as it has been for ninety five years,
even for the last twenty two.
It’s today.
Of course it is.
Happy birthday mum.
There will be cake.

Today has been

Today has been a day of swings from yins to roundabout yangs. Some favourite things – sunshine, watermelon, friendship – and others not so tip top: wind skipping up sand, warm water and jellyfish in the shallows. But when the rain came and there was one umbrella for all of us, how many could take shelter? All of us, of course, because that is always the answer. All of us, together. All of us.

The first hands

The first hands to touch me were a woman’s, a midwife’s. Then my mother’s.

Years later after good and bad and right and wrong the touch I had always needed and waited for finally arrived.

Now the thought of your touch still sparks the stars beneath my skin. The stars still spark.


Helplessness. It’s worse for me you know. You are only suffering but you do that every day. But every day I wake up and with the reddened sky I know that I can never help you. Hopelessness. It’s worse for me. You can imagine a cure or some relief though you know – you know – that that will never come. All I want is for your pain to go away for ever. And you know please know that’s not the same as not wanting you here forever. Look into my eyes, please look into my eyes and please, please don’t show me pity.

Written for wp.lancs.ac.uk/translatingpain, an interdisciplinary critical/creative project bringing together people living with persistent pain, representatives from pain charities, creative writers, academics, and medical practitioners.