First Surgical Assist

I wrote this August 2016, but never published it

I thought maybe I wanted to nurse,
I paused and considered the poo and vomit though…
And then thought that maybe I didn’t.
I don’t want to see that
I just wanted to be there when they open up torso’s
I want to watch.
Just let me be there.
Let me see how it works while you’re living.
I found out you can do that as a nurse,
First Surgical Assist
and my soul lit up

Let me be in cardiothoracic
Just let me hold hearts
Still beating

Life got hectic
In so many ways
Not bad ways,
just full.

I’ve had this sense for a while now,
that I don’t get to study,
that there’s no time for me to follow this thread
that I don’t get to watch them crack open chests.
A piece of me sighs with that knowledge.

I’m ok,
truly deeply ok.
I’ve resolved to suck the marrow from wherever I find myself.

I asked God this week to show me,
to remind me,
why it is, that I’m doing what I’m doing right now.
In this time
Of all of the places

And then I find myself,
In the dark,
On the phone,
Walking through the mess of someone else’s broken,
For the second time that day
And I’m stunned
And honoured
And awake
As I look up, and realise…

You’re letting me


For my Dad

They’re coming now
One at a time
Evenly spaced but accelerating
A train of thought
Memory freight
Clattering through with a rhythm
as you pick up the pace
as you leave

Weeks ago,
maybe months?
The first rolled toward me
Allowing itself to unfold and let me examine it
It was packaged and grouped
Separate moments bound together.

Small me,
on the worn green-brown-orange carpet
thumbing through all of the pages
of the illustrated guide to New Zealand fish
Aiming and pausing,
mainly on the scattered colour plates
I linger on the John Dory
every time
and I tell you he’s my favourite
every time.
Years later
East Coast
The net has been out for days.
The sea too-rough.
I’m up at the caravan the day you finally get out there
to drag its contents in.
You paused.
In the middle of everything.
You came all the way up the beach
through the January campground to find me.
You remembered.
I still feel the delight and dismay
You’d caught him.
My favourite
but… too far gone.
Snagged for days and nights in a net
Almost a husk of a John Dory…
but the jump in my chest
that you remembered.

Following that
came the ducks
Husband and wife I guess
strolling up our driveway
one Saturday morning.
That humorous spark in your eye
with the slightly mad grin
and you
wordlessly – almost always wordlessly – communicating
your insane plan
to me.
You’ve decided to entice them
into the garage
Mum is out in the car
so there’s space
(these things always happen when she’s not here)
I think I handed you the crust left from breakfast
crumb after crumb
they waddle trustingly after you
after us, into the shed
quacking softly.
I’m intrigued
No idea what your plan is.
And then you pulled the roller door.
So hard, so fast
So screechingly loud.
We are plunged into a storm
of darkness and duck
My tiny self (am I 6?!)
in panic
as two terrified, fat, waterfowl
hurtle through the air
and Squawking
and slamming repeatedly into the windows.
I look at you through the chaos…
You’re loving it.
Realising it’s not going to work,
but loving it.
Chuckling away at the absurdity
(and maybe my panic)
as you give up on home-kill for dinner.

triggered by the last
in its duck-related category.
Mum is away at a women-y conference
(see what I mean?!)
it’s dark outside so it might be winter?
Or late,
and there you are
on the black and yellow and white
kitchen floor
near the cupboard with the blue dish of sugar
rough wooden board on the lino
dismembering a duck
with a small… axe?
Is that real?
I’m not certain of that detail,
but that’s how I remember it.
Off with each leg
A “Shhhh” signal (with the wrong finger)
and a chuckled – “Don’t tell yer mother”
Maybe I crept out of bed because of the noise?
bare feet on the cold kitchen floor,
the sound of crickets.
I don’t know,
but I do know I felt thrilled,
to be in on the secret,
and the humour,
and the gore.

Another time,
with you sole-charge
Mum at a womens retreat again
you blew my mind with hot cocoa.
I’m sitting propped up in your bed
first thing in the morning – like always
expecting a milo, watery and weak
when instead, bearing my lurid orange, hand-made little cup
(did some lady from church make that?)
you produced a beverage
White-witch worthy
“What is this??”
eyes popping out of my head, blurry in chocolate-scented steam.
You reply in disbelief that I’ve never had one before
something in the way you are, tells me cocoa is a memory for you too.
This time,
I remember your delight in being the one to introduce me
and then hiding your secret technique for making it amazing
There was a way.

You had a way for everything
The tightest good night tuck-ins ever.
Scarcely able to breathe,
mattress buckling,
toasted sandwiched, on a press
Winter time with its chills,
meant Vicks sandpapered into my chest and back
with your chapped, builder hands.
And the squishy jube kind of Throaties lozenges snuck from your private stash
in the bedside drawer,
or the truck.
with daylight savings leaking through all of the closed venetians
Cicadas in stereo
Sticky and hot and tired and irritable and unable to fall asleep
Occasionally you would notice
in the ad-break
and waft a breeze over me with my thin blue and white sheets

Your genuine wonder
at the world around you,
at the baby birds in their nest
woven into the eventually doomed lemon-drink tree
You propped up your homemade wooden ladder
and fetched me to see them too
tiny and ugly with their bulgy closed eyes and wide open chirpy mouths
Delighted and quiet we watched them.

After heavy rain,
we’d climb in the truck, drive over all of the bridges
and look at all of the rivers
Cyclone Bola led to hours of driving,
looking at all of the farmland collapsed, ruined, and sodden.
So much wonder and fascination.
So much insistence that I see it too
Thank you for taking me.

Your truck with its particular engine noise,
and quirky windows
the smell of sawdust and oil
the rattle of tools on the floor
having to perch my feet on top of the pile
in front of the passenger seat

You’d brake at the letterbox daily
on your return home from work
letting me run out to you,
climb up, hold that thin black steering wheel
and drive it into the garage
Immediately raiding behind your drivers seat
for the old vanilla bottle of milk you’d taken for smoko
warm from the long day in the heat
I loved that ritual

I remember being very small
and riding in the truck with you to the dump
You’d grin and let me know when to stand up on the seat
scratchy, broken, worn leather seat-back prickling my tiny bare arm
I held on while you swooped down that sudden drop on Springfield road
Laughing with you as I squeal, my tummy somewhere in my chest.

Nothing filled your heart more,
than your girls being kick-ass

At 3 I declared myself able to run around the block alone
told you, across from me
over the marmite, butter and pale green shakers
at the lunch table with the bumpy yellow cloth
You scoffed and said I would be too afraid
so I let myself out the door and down the road.
I can still feel the rough of the hot concrete under my small feet
hear the sound as they pound a rapid rhythm
around the corner,
past the house with the overgrown garden where Witchypoo lived
round the next corner and down
pausing (like always) to pat the black stone dog
on the wall at the brick house
thrilled at my freedom, heart bursting with it
round the third corner
past the big transformer up high with its perpetual ominous hum
finally rounding the last corner and seeing you looking for me
at the other end of the street,
expecting that I’d give up and come back the way I left.
I remember you turning around,
green walk-shorts,
but your face,
and your laugh
your surprised and proud laugh
at my stubborn independence
was everything,

It still, a little bit

I don’t know what I’m doing, but I have to do this.

I have spent a long time feeling that I’m not ‘creative’.  You see, I like rules, I like things to have boundaries, I like knowing what to expect… but in saying that I also like to push against all of these things in other people…  I don’t even know what I think anymore.

I do know that I was created to write.

I don’t know why, or who for, or if any of it will matter, but I know that it will matter to me (spoken like a true creative… “Guuuuuuys!! I just have to do this for myself, guuuys!”).

I know that when I am not making time to, that I feel like I’ve let a little of my purpose grow limp.  My life is full, I sometimes don’t know how, or when to make the time.  I don’t write well in the evenings.

I am fussy, I want every effort to be amazing.  I wish I cared less about every piece of writing I put out.  I want to apologise for every sentence that could have been better, for every story that didn’t have the right arc.  I want the world to read it, and I don’t want anybody to.  I want to hear all of your feedback, and I want to put my fingers in both ears and scream at you not to tell me.  I wish it wasn’t so torturous.

But it is.
And I am.
And I just have to deal.

(I am also fluidly selective in my adherence to punctuational and structural rules, and I don’t give a rats’ about it)

I feel like the era of the Blog is fading, and I also don’t feel like that matters.  Any writing I do is practice, is honing a skill that will be better with use.  It actually doesn’t matter whether nobody ever sees it.  I will be sharpening my instrument.

I write best about what is burning me up inside, and right now that would be the fostering journey that we are on as a family.  I’m not allowed to write about this.  At least not publicly.  What am I going to do with it?  I want to create a history.  I want to help other people on their fostering journey.  Ugh.  Confidentiality agreements and I are not easy bed-fellows.  I am learning so much.  Wish I could blog about it.

This quote has been stuck to my fridge for maybe a couple of years now.  I whole-heartedly believe it.  I know that I will be better, even if my weekly output makes me cringe and apologise.  I want to be this disciplined, for my own sanity.

Ira Glass Quote

I plan to give it a serious go this time.  There will be tantrums.  They will be at home.  Sorry Ramon.

I may not post publicly once a week, but I will be writing something.  I have to write, to process this foster-mum stuff, but you won’t be seeing that.  Sometimes I am fleshing out controversial ideas I have about a variety of topics.  You won’t see those either, I’m too scared of all of you.  Sometimes I will have something to write that is perfectly publicly acceptable, perfectly tolerable for general audiences.  You’ll see those.  I apologise about both the infrequency and potential mediocrity of them in advance.  I’m going to do it anyway.

I have to do this.