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.
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.