Finlay’s Hours: ‘Limbo Pivot’

 

A chronological collection of writing during my son’s first fortnight of life, in Neonatal ICU.

And as the poems become unfinished, the titles coming first and the thoughts failing
To complete, the end of form is lost to ellipsis. The thought of a sonnet,
Absurd in its complexity, makes me weary as… an
Unfinished simile. Or a failed metaphor.
There goes another thought,
Over-wrought,
And then
In
The interval
Of that line to this,
You, yes you, are phase
Shifted from the ironically named
‘Family Room’ to right beside Finlay’s crib,
Where we stand and witness a doctor’s fist pump
And enthusiastic “Yes!”, after clearing some mucus from
His quivering chest, improving his gasses, while oxygen intake
Remains relatively static at 99, with only a little bit of Nitric Oxide.
We might even see him open his eyes this time tomorrow, and, suddenly,
With eyes equally as wide, I cannot find the pessimism within to believe otherwise.

-Unseen

Finlay’s Hours: ‘About Time’

 

A chronological collection of writing during my son’s first fortnight of life, in Neonatal ICU.

Elastic,
With the ability to snap quick
Forward or back, with
Agility, acrobatic,
Or inebriated slackness.

When I was winding my stopped watch forward,
I caught myself bordering on the ecstatic,
Watching the hands spin that quick
In agreement with my naïve tactic

To skip these weeks.
O’erleap days two three four five
Six seven eight nine
Ten eleven twelve thirteen
And fourteen,
Straight to that warm scene that I need to be seeing:
Me, him and her
Hospital leaving.

But days two three four five
Six seven eight nine
Ten eleven twelve thirteen
And fourteen,
Each need to be seen
Individually,
On their own terms.

And that’s what I’ve learned
About time, how it works,
How it makes every moment
Deserve to be heard.

-Unseen

Finlay’s Hours: ‘New Routines’

 

A chronological collection of writing during my son’s first fortnight of life, in Neonatal ICU.

 

New Routines

Unlike the gestation period and eventual birth of a human infant, new routines don’t gradually emerge into being, unseen.

They arrive with jolts and starts, like unexpected steps on familiar staircases, when you’re carrying more than you expected.

Finlay’s Hours: ‘Strings’

 

A chronological collection of writing during my son’s first fortnight of life, in Neonatal ICU.

Your granddad always wanted to learn guitar,
So I gave him a lesson,
While we were fretting.

We fretted and plucked at strings
And I showed him things
He had only heard before:

Major chord, open,
With those same big hands
That laid the floor upon which you’ll crawl.

And with hands that painted Snowfall on walls,
I walked him through an open E.
Forefinger, middle, ring finger,

Three fingers sore.
But I was more calloused than he was,
Hardened to strings that push pack and keep us

Alert and aware of the pain that it takes
To turn metal and wood
Into something like music.

-U

Finlay’s Hours: ‘Punctuation’

A chronological collection of writing during my son’s first fortnight of life, in Neonatal ICU.

(Note: This was written in two sleepy halves. Stanza two came after news that one of the medical interventions was being significantly reduced. The first stanza was written very slowly, through emotional treacle, during a limbo morning)

Punctuation

By your bedside, all the murkiness of poems written in the dark clears, to let me see my pride, and my joy, and her strength, and your life, each blinding cliché, wash away the dirt of my fears. Like grit from pebbles on gloomy beaches ahead of sunshine – son: Mine, in daybreak. Relief takes shape out of the shadows I make, made, have made and undoubtedly will make again, in the shady hours.

And then, I find I can breathe again. Read my pen: it says, ‘I can breathe’ – again: ‘I can breathe’. My pen bleeds relief in swirls of drowsy cursive, secreting unrehearsed words of… anti-grief? Relief, let’s call it. All this is important. We just talked with the doctor who recorded blips and bleeps that send me spinning. Actually grinning, we asked about her shifts. 12 on, 12 off, with other people’s kids, like ours, like you, all drips, clips, blips and peacefully closed lids.

Eventually, I realise that this carefully constructed mess of wires and increasingly familiar guests in our lives have become part of the nest, a home we never planned for. A home we hated at first, feared, recoiled from, rejected, but heeded, haltingly, and essentially, needed.

-Unseen Flirtations

Finlay’s Hours: ‘Then I am a Coward’

finlaycrib

A chronological collection of writing during my son’s first fortnight of life, in Neonatal ICU.

(Note: At this point the infection had been confirmed undiagnosed and we didn’t yet know when or if he would be able to oxygenate his blood, unassisted)

Then I am a Coward

If bravery is standing in the face of the unfaceable,
Unflinching
Or quaking,
Then I am a coward.

For I only face forward
Because there’s nothing to turn to,
Return to
Or hurtle
Towards, in retreat
From the beasts that greet me.

I need to see them defeated
Or let them just eat me,
Piece-by-piece me
Or swallow me whole.

At least then I’d know,
For a bit,
Where I am.

Or maybe it’d be better
To be picked to the bone,
Ripped into bits without any risk
Of accidentally claiming that dark as my home.

-Unseen Flirtations

Finlay’s Hours: ‘Twitch’

 

 

 

A chronological collection of writing during my son’s first fortnight of life, in Neonatal ICU.

Supposedly comatose,
Until I saw that one foot twitch,
Which shouldn’t happen
But I swear actually did.
Just a toe,
Just a bit,
Which made me stop and wonder if.

So I call over the doctor
And she goes over
Some of the finer details
Of what’s being done
And how he is under
The influence of drugs
That take him into
‘The land’ (as I call it).

But if he’s roaming
Elsewhere,
How can his toe
Prove that he’s here?

Easy answer:
They’ve turned off the one
That keeps him under,
Unknowing, undone
For some length of time
During which, he reminds us
That he’s here in the world
Beside us.

-Unseen Flirtations