Alive

I wrote this during napowrimo 2018. The challenge was a conversation between two selves. This is a chat between my sixteen year old self, who was so alive and loving but she also self-harmed, starved herself, suffered from intense anxiety and once tried to not be alive anymore and me as a mother. I wrote this from my current office, my bed whilst nursing my baby to sleep.

#mentalhealthawarenessweek

Alive

So we’re still alive?
Yes. And we have a baby.
Woah! We said we’d never do that. Are you married too?
Yes.
Jesus.
You still believe?
Um. Uh huh. Yeah. There’s something there. In the trees. On the way up to New Marske Woods. You remember?
No. Tell me.
That path. Leading up to the Pine trees. We couldn’t see where it led. It broke into tiny steps that went up and up and we turned around and we could see everything. The new built houses. The bean field. Even the steel works. Then the sea curved around everything like a blue hand.
And that’s God?
No, not exactly. God’s the path and our long skirt brushing the needle floor making the same sound as the sea. Being connected. I don’t know. It’s something. What’s it like having a baby?
Like that – connected. We sleep curved around him. His breathing sounds like that. Like our cotton skirt touching the needles. But it’s tiring. Really tiring.
Is it like we thought? Is it patriarchal oppression at its most insidious?
We thought that?
Is it?
No. A bit. Mothering is not valued. It’s harder than it should be. It’s hard.
What’s he like?
Himself.
So we’re a mother and a wife?
Yup.
Do we eat ok now?
We make our own falafel.
Woah!
Are we still, you know, is the fear still there?
Yup.
Shit.
But we just get on with it anyway.
Woah!

Author: Carmen Marcus

As the daughter of a Yorkshire Fisherman and Irish Mother, my writing brings together the visceral and the magical. My debut novel #How Saints Die was published with Harvill Secker in 2017. It won New Writing North's Northern Promise Award as a work in progress and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize in 2018. My poetry has been commissioned by BBC Radio, The Royal Festival Hall and Durham Book Festival. As a child of an 80s council estate I am an advocate for working class writers and stories. I’m currently working on my first poetry collection The Book of Godless Verse and my next novel. I try to live up to the words of my first critic and primary school teacher ‘weird minus one house point.’

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