Sylvia Clare

Childhood beaches

You know the kind, 
where eternal stretches of sand 
fill with infinite possibilities;
excavation, how deep can I dig,
burying, the weight of the sand 
cool and heavy on my own body
building, castles adorned with pebble windows, 
seaweed flags, and decorative shells, 
each representing 
a fairy story in your head, Beauty and the beast
Rapunzel against the tides

You know the race against
the tide coming in, 
to build your own swimming pool. 
Hoping it will be filled,
then watching it all washed away
You know the time,
when days seemed endless
yet always ending too soon,
when muscles ached from races 
up and around sand dunes,
scratches of maram grass against your legs
the wounds of battle inflicted.

You know the shivering
when too much time 
is spent at  the water’s edge
engrossed in the ebb and flow of each ripple,
feeling it flood against your warm skin,
trickle between your fingers, nudge your toes 
until your own body is forgotten
until it reminds you, the wind is colder today.

A path through the forest

muddied and puddled in rainy weather 
this well-worn track 
used by dogwalkers 
and family explorers alike
takes on a different nature 
when moon reigns

This is our time, 
when our hulking frames 
wander at ease
when we play and roll, 
tumble down banks, across clearings
in abandon. 

Our shadow natures 
show us the dark paths
the secret hidden ways of life
of the forest, of the universe
sparkling above our heads
morse signaling their secrets
back to us.

We still know, as you once did
the interconnectedness of it all
there is no ‘lost’ in the eternal
no otherness, we are you, 
the forest, this path, simply 
segments of space in time,
the eternal mystery.

                                         I was once given a badger as a power animal to guide me through the dark times and forests are places I come to again and again in love and wonderment, to feel reconnected to life itself. 

Becoming true to herself

Celebrate who you have become but also celebrate 
not becoming what you might have become.

Let us toast the inner child, her rebellious
nature, each day being grateful to her,
for not giving up on us, on women,
for not yielding, conforming, acquiescing
allowing the distortions others sought
to twist her spine and hush her voice.

Locked away in cages of cruelty
called education, discipline, guidance
she bides her time, sometimes rebelled 
risked consequences, accepted outcomes,
knew she would always do it again anyway,
to prove to herself that she still could, 
or would, not yielding to coercive cruelty.

‘Once they have done their worst, 
there is nothing left to fear’.
We could all have fallen by the wayside,
yielded, cowed down, denied our womanhood.
We owe it to her not to do so, but to still be the 
unsilenced voice, the woman they could not stop
she who will live her own life, whatever it takes.
Homeless, in poverty, finding a way, 
her own resources far outstripping those
of her would be captors and rulers.

Easy it is to under-estimate such women, 
foolish too, such men with jewels in their hands,
they recognize only lumps of coal.
Such blindness, such wasted lives.

                                       Elizabeth Packard was an American women who stood up to her husband and expressed her own views on politics, and thus behave in ways that were contrary to the dominant view that women should be silent, obedient and the chattel of their husband. She already had six children when she started to speak out, instigating the most cruel treatment from her husband as a result. He had her incarcerated in an asylum to retrain her to her role with him. Her youngest child was only 18 months when she was incarcerated. In other words she was declared insane for speaking her mind, for using her mind. 1860, she is 43, lying in bed in her marital home, wondering what would happen if she disobeyed her husband and stood up for herself

Flights, Issue Eight, March 2023