I relate to the battered and the bleeding, the used, old, worn-out and wretched, skulking along dimly lit passageways, caught in the head-lights on a wet zebra crossing.
I relate to the whites in peoples’ eyes, and the hole inside. Those with burnt fingernails, brown and staining from too much foil and broken bottles.
I relate to the thinned out man who has soiled himself in Canal Street, and his fat wife, screaming at passers by.
I relate to the two soft, pink children, left on a mossy bank of the East London stretch of river, wrapped in plastic Asda bags and newspaper, and dirt and mud and too much poison filling the air.
Now, my face is bright with innocence. My cheeks flush young, my neck graceful. I was made perhaps for harp playing, and clear mornings in April, and romance.
But my world is that of the beggar and the bugger, and my music is down and dirty with the rest of them. I am Welsh, born and bred, my mother from a steelworks town, my father, Llangollen foothills. I never knew honour or chastity or blessing. Love was hollowed out of me from as young as I remember.
Still, I flew round our garden with the small feet of an infant angel, searching out the scent of dewdrops, sniffing the heather and crumbling it between short fingers. I worshipped grass and wetness and the pink falling of Spring time, and the rustling of Autumn, death of Winter.
Summer was hoses, and tennis rackets and me circling the driveway on my boy’s bike, a silver racer. Days were long and sweet, like the soft fluffy sponge that my mother turned out upon the old wire rack on the vinyl kitchen unit, her lip curling inward in anticipation, me hiding behind the white counter, not wanting to distract her from her moment of perfection. We would both cheer as it landed, safe and sound, with a light thud on the metal below.
This is what my eyes still show. Eight years old, eight years old
But between this steps a darker figure. When night came, doors slammed tight, the house creaking, riddled with daggers and fear.
And for this, my face betrays me.
I come from a common breed. I come from what the books and scholars and right on tellers of how it is call ‘dysfunction’.
And life was never a speeding bicycle, and success comes despite, not because of.
I sit with my two sisters, in a triangle. One is beside me on the two-seater, the other, on the purple armchair. We all look at each other, our palms turned upwards to the ceiling, and all we can do is shake.
I’ve always longed for love to be a soaring, beautiful thing. I lose myself in words and notes and singing to find this elegant bird, to fly with it.
But love, it cuts me up, and I am serrated, bleeding nothing.
And so, I will always want the misfit, I was born for treachery and losing and blank evenings and mystical eyes weaving secrets……I was brought up to look reality square in the face…and to run out screaming.
And I write to lose the pain, to find the pain, to roll it into a ball and stick it under my tongue in silence, eyes looking right, eyes looking left, hands clasped behind my back in fake nonchalence. I write because I don’t want to do self-harm, I don’t want to go the way of the beggars and the buggers, the drinkers and the crack-smokers, the saboteurs and the sadists.
Writing is life, and life makes sense in the word.
My father bred us and broke us, one by one.
So I’ll climb atop Snowdon, and I won’t stop my eye from roaming, across the bleating of North Wales’ smoke filled pubs and hedgerows, to the borders, and England, to cities, the sea.
I won’t stop searching and I won’t stop running and I won’t stop the blood from gushing in my veins, because I know that life is almighty. You may crucify yourself again and again and again, and crawl to heaven on dislocated knees, but today, I saw what they might call Divine. It was in my sister’s pale shaking hands, and the frost covered pavement as I walked slowly back home to the tinsel, the tea, and the table where my mother’s arm was resting. It was in the sight of the back of her head, watching television, a fake pink rose holding her hair in place. It was in 5 music boxes, lining the top of the television, shaped like a snowman, a Christmas tree, a cottage, a soldier, and a teddy bear. I opened them up and tiny scarf clad figures were skating around and around on the ice inside to the music from ‘Swan Lake’.
It is in love, despite everything, refusing to be broken.
It has been a bitter Christmas.
We all saw our father for the first time in nearly 8 years, and my whole family stood in the same hallway for the first time in more than twelve. We were all together again, a family, for ten minutes.
My father was tall and his hair was shoulder length and silver. And I tell myself, he is no monster, he is dying. But in the glare of the lunch-time sun, I turn away, and I wonder.