This is ’Skeletal’ – I wrote this over lockdown when myself and my family were going through something really difficult. I wrote this poem in a moment of despair, to try and make sense of something that was, and still is, so alien to me. To try and make sense of what was happening to somebody I love. This poem is written to someone close to me. It is written to two sides of their being that were in conflict, and this poem is an appeal to both of those sides of being. I have shared this poem with friends and family, and obviously my family knew at once what it was about, but those who weren’t aware of the direct meaning, came up with some really interesting ideas about what the poem could be about from dementia to global warming. However I have chosen this poem as one of my favourites merely because it is about something deeply profound and important to me, and I think that is portrayed clearly within it.
My poems are 90% of the time in free verse. I don’t tend to stick to any particular form, partly because I don’t take my poetry too seriously; It is a cathartic exercise for me. I use it to make sense of my own feelings and experiences (much like my songwriting) rather than to create a piece of art to be appreciated by others. However I have always admired free verse poetry as it holds something in it which I find enthralling which I can never quite put my finger on. There is something free about it, something wild and untameable and abstract. I hope you can enjoy the poem and I am always extremely fascinated in hearing other people’s interpretations of the language and the style.
You shrink – deep inside yourself,
Further and further, you sink into the dark –
Away from us beyond our reach,
As we wonder whether there are no bounds –
Bounds to your endless pain,
Bounds to where light may seep through,
Bounds where you might stop all of this.
Day in and day out we watch you change,
Little by little your light ceases to shine –
Through the tormented spirit that occupies your mind.
Like an army he stands his ground,
Drawing his weapons every morning and evening,
When your medicine is placed in front of your eyes,
For you only to be told it is poison.
The frailty of your body and the meagreness of your bones,
The dwindling daylight of hopeful memory,
Each day we all share the same demon,
Each day we pray he will leave you be.
When the fork is out and the plate takes its place,
We cannot find you anymore.
You are far beyond our reach –
As we beg of you on our knees.
Now, to see you laugh brings sunlight to my life,
It reminds me that you are still there,
The part of my life I accepted in a blink of an eye,
But now fight to hold onto each numbered day.
I wish there was a way to get inside your head,
To undo all the knots that need a hand to unwind,
To cut the cords that are strangling your life,
To soothe the aches and cleanse your wounds.
But this troubled monster inside your mind,
Is made of chains that we cannot break.
Every day he pulls them tighter and tighter,
And only your spirit can set itself free.
But now I am talking to you, you troubled shadow –
To the phantom that stalks you and lingers closely behind,
If you can hear me, I’m asking you now –
When will be the day when enough is enough?
When her flesh is as thin as a flake of snow?
When her bones shine through in their skeletal frame?
When I can no longer touch you for fear you might break.
Image: by W. Carter on Wikimedia Commons. URL: