Stay at Home


Stay at Home

Was it fear of time alone with you?
Too much time just you and you and me,
a remnant of the early days when
panic flooded me at double cries
and “Help!” I’d cry at crack of dawn
“Come and help, they’re both awake!”

I drag these bright and cheery faces
here and there from house to shops
to parks to groups to Gran to town.
We play and rush and chat with friends,
we hurry hurry put on shoes and sunscreen
search for missing hats and vitally essential toys.

Now illness, mild and barely there,
has anchored us to home, in place.
Long days, four walls, dream space
time for every game and time to spare

Endless hours we have to fill until
in swathes of time alone distill
the essence of what draws us near
that purest love that casts out fear.


Endless time for play dough numbers


Pretend Living

I love being a grown up. I love the fact that sometimes people believe what I say now, that they seem to think I know what I’m talking about. And I like having a house of my own and filling it with stuff. I just sometimes wish I was better at keeping it tidy and clean. Sometimes there is a run of several days where I have occupied myself with more interesting things than housework and it becomes so bad that it really gets me down. It is on those days that I wish I was a child again, when even cleaning had a mysterious sheen of glamour about it, something special that grown-ups did that meant you were Big.

This poem is about how really I’d quite like to move into my children’s Wendy house.

Doing pretend washing up

Doing pretend washing up

Pretend living

My dream house is standing in my garden right now
Blue roof, pink door, little shutters
open shut open shut
spend the day
just open shuttering
Then hiding away inside in the shade
Plastic tap, pretend cooking, a pretend cup of tea

I spent most of my childhood pretending to be
Mary Poppins, ballerina, a barmaid,
or just an older version of me
older smarter
spend the day
rowing my bicycle like a canoe
pretend nineteenth century laundry
teaching skating to students only visible to me

Real life isn’t always what the Wendy house promised
Real cooking, real laundry, real washing up,
cycle recycle plodding on
spend the day
making money and plates dirty
Then hiding away under the duvet: can it just go away?
If I wish really hard, will it all turn to plastic and back into a game?

(c) Judith Kingston, 2013

Linking up to Prose for Thought.

Back to life

This one is for my wonderful mother in law, who does not deal in poisoned apples but only in loving support, cups of tea and thoughtful gifts for no reason.

Back to Life

The slug under the stone
oil slick glistening rainbows
Seventeen years and then some
Still it’s lurking
Still it’s growing
Still it’s here
year on year.

But you too remain
you get on the train
weary once more
trying treatments
no more
of the ins and outs
the jargon or the details.
Enough, you say.
Just this: the train, the walk,
pill or needle – look away –
just whatever the doctors say
then home and back to life.

We meet on another sunny day
shops or park, the children play,
Coffee, lunch: “My treat,” you say.
“It will be my treat today.”
We both know you say this every day.

There you are by the swings
Tired but still standing
Sore but still smiling
Worn but never beaten
Still giving, ever giving
Enjoying living.

The slug under the stone
is biding, waiting,
Devour & swell & overrun
it might
it may
But you stand firm and you pray
It will not win, not any day

There may not be a remedy
But death can have no victory
You drive home with a cheery wave
Confident in the empty grave.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2013

Linking up to Prose for Thought.

Ingredients for an Evening of Me-time

Being a Mum is quite a busy, social profession. Even trips to the toilet are usually not undertaken solo.

Just before the summer holidays, the lovely lady who runs a parenting group I attend gave us a sheet to fill in. On it were four periods of time: 1 minute, 5 minutes, half an hour and an hour or more. She asked us to write down in each box what we would do if we had this amount of time to ourselves. Often time to ourselves is unexpected and unplanned, and we end up frittering it away on frivolous activities like the washing up or tidying. She suggested we could make the most of our free moments by plotting in advance what we could do, and sticking the bit of paper on the fridge.

What would you do with 1, 5, 30 or many more minutes to yourself?

Ingredients for An Evening of Me-Time

Two knitting needles and 6 balls of
Debbie Bliss Cotton DK
in Little Red Riding Hood

A mug of cocoa
no matter the temperature

and more chocolate:
type immaterial,
but lots.

A film
in which boy meets girl
and after much
witty dialogue
some misunderstandings
a few tears
and a moving speech
they kiss –
and the world
melts away
the pieces
fall into place
and life begins for
the only two people who matter.
(That’s them
and for that one brief moment
it is you,

to accompany
said film.

When you come home
I will be
asleep on the sofa
while the credits roll.
Take care to
kiss the chocolate
from my face
before you carry me
to bed.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2013.

Linking up to Prose for Thought.

Prose for Thought

Skeletons at Midnight

An old poem this week. I spent a wonderful evening  with a friend once sharing all the gory details of our past with each other, something we hadn’t done yet although we had been friends for a while. The Boy wasn’t around yet, but she had quite recently had her first child. We got so involved in each other’s stories that at one point she said: “For a moment I forgot I had a baby upstairs!” When I got home I wrote this for her.

Skeletons at Midnight

behind the door was not
the shallow grave of dead secrets

but Narnia

Deeper now, and richer
are the colours of your face
against this backdrop.

These chords I hear
for the first time
change the meaning of the melody
that you are to me.

And here, for you, is my symphony.

These former selves are not us
just trailing shadows that lead
to now
and who we are
and will be:

two women
on a couch at midnight
with a cup of tea.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2010