Cinnamon Toast/New Poem (Rough First Draft)

Last night I said I wouldn’t rest until I had written something I could feel proud of. Here’s the first draft of a new poem.

 

Cinnamon Toast

 

As a child, your morning always started

with cinnamon toast. The edges had to be

slightly burnt, and the middle, just done,

a slightly simmering, warm spice pool.

 

I mix cinnamon with sugar. Butter

the side of the bread not toasted,

carefully apply the sugar and spice mix.

 

I put it under the grill, watch as I did

when you were four, five and six.

 

You were four when you asked what

would happen to a body in space without

a spacesuit. I took you to the library

and we stayed until we found out.

 

The sun had set by the time we left.

Your father had called the police.

 

I started the cinnamon toast because

I heard you move. I heard you shuffle

slowly in your Father’s socks across

the hall to the bathroom.

 

Three days ago you were so doped

up on diazepam you needed my help

to get you from bed to sink to toilet

back to sink back to bed again.

 

I should be smiling that you’re moving

independently now, but I imagine

your face, your eyes

– like you’ve been forgotten at sea.

 

I imagine your skin, purple hued

like sleep is something foreign,

though at the moment, it’s all you do.

 

That and cry into books you look at

but don’t read.

 

I don’t want to think about the dreams

you have. In my head they’re all dark

and dangerous. In my head you always die.

 

I cut the cinnamon toast into fingers,

arrange them in stacks. I wait.

 

It’s hard to say how long it’ll take

before you make your way

all the way downstairs.

 

Sometimes, you’ll get halfway down,

then move around, go slowly back up.

Hope always congests in my chest.

It always hurts.

 

Yesterday your room smelt of sweat

and animal soaps from the Body Shop.

 

The atmosphere was fragile as blown glass.

I stroked and kissed your head. Said nothing.

 

Before yesterday, I tried to strain

your depression with compromises,

a different medication, more books,

a tea we hadn’t tried before.

 

There was so many sad pauses.

You curled there, naked expect for socks,

so honest and broken, brows wild, spots

and deep scratches across your shoulders

like the results of a dot to dot done in the dark.

 

You appear in the kitchen doorway,

a damp towel that was on the bathroom floor

around your shoulders. You tremor softly.

 

I want to applaud your astounding bravery.

Instead I quietly push the cold cinnamon toast

across the table. You sit. I breathe gently

so as not to scare you away.

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