Finlay’s Hours: ‘Definition’

 

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

Definition

Strength is the ability to assimilate the extraordinary into the ordinary.

Bravery is the ability to meet each upwards oscillation of fate with a new intensity of frequency that establishes a new plateau from previously unspoken peaks.

Fear is the complete and overwhelming realisation that you have no means to control the things, seen or unseen, that threaten to alter the accepted defaults of your existence.

Relief is the realisation that expectations have not changed.

Joy is the acceptance of good fortune.

Happiness is the confirmed acknowledgment of Relief.

Guilt is the suspicion that you could, or should, or might be able to effect changes in your current stability that could prevent Fear from infiltrating your personal circumstances.

Love is the inability to exist on your own elemental terms, independent of the existence of another element.

Support is the tendency to recognise the underlying beneficial factors in someone else’s decisions and meet these factors with your own enthusiasm.

Commitment is the ability to choose Support on spite of Fear.

Worry is the early onset of Guilt.

-Unseen Flirtations

Finlay’s Hours: ‘Like Birth’

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

Like birth,
Progress is so gradual,
So incremental,
That you can easily miss it.
But there’s always that moment,
That moment of give,
That takes you a step forward,
Upwards and into
Something new.
A before and an after,
Clearly in view.

-Unseen Flirtations

Finlay’s Hours: ‘The Best Art’

 

 

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

(note: Before going into labour, my wife bought me a book of British short stories so as to have something to read during the process. The introduction to this collection was rather academic. Among other ideas, the editor, Malcolm Bradbury, posited the notion that the best short story writers of the 20th century challenge the notion of the short story as a format as well as seeking to make a statement through the content of their work. This thought rolled around in my head like an inky marble, before eventually being manifested in the poem below.)

The Best Art

The best art challenges the very notion of itself.
If this holds true,
Then you are a masterpiece
Because you revision life
And interrogate the form of life we had formed
In our creative minds
Before you were born.
You took our imperatives
And put a question mark on them.
You made us think, not again,
But for the first time
About what it essentially means to be.

You Quentin Tarantinoed our Hollywood production,
You James Joyced our perfect novel,
You Alexander McQueened our Spring Summer collection,
You Chris Ofilied our shitty lives,
You Emined up our bed
And Eminemed up our bars
And Nasir Jonesed our debut record.

You Grand Wizard Theodored our neatly stacked vinyl,
You Zinedine Zidaned our pregnancy final,
You Picassoed our classics
And Maleviched the four-cornered square of our lives.

You Damon Dashed our business plans
And John Coltraned our saxophone solos
Into something supreme. Sublime.
You Jaco Pistorioused our bassiest lows
And punk rock studded our high street clothes.

You Zaha Hadided our walls and our ceilings
Mike Tysoned our lights out
And Dysoned our feelings
Into a vacuum.

You William Morrised our florals,
You Michel Roux Juniored our meals
And Rodney Mullened all four wheels
That we ride upon.

You Michael Jacksoned our video,
Then Gondryed it,
Then Shynolad it,
Before you Da Vincied our smiles,
Becketted our short stories,
Woolfed our consciouses
And Shakespeared our sonnets.

You did all that
Without brush, pen, or palette,
Creative genius
Placed on this planet.
Your raw material:
Intensive care,
You Finlay Hostick-Boakyed
The air.

-Unseen Flirtations

 

 

 

 

 

Finlay’s Hours: ‘Imagine’

 

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

Imagine watching your 6-day old son have a tube forcibly inserted down his throat, into his lungs, before having mucus and secretions withdrawn manually.

Imagine his arm spasming with every push, his mouth forced open with a plastic brace tied across the rear of his head.

Imagine his quaking body and curling toes, his silent protestations and bandaged nose, another tube in one nostril drawing substances from his stomach.

Imagine his eyes, glued shut with fatigue and morphine, struggling to open as well-meaning hands pummel his chest.

Imagine seeing his signs of life digitised in primary colours, fluctuate in real time.

Imagine seeing him retch and stretch in seeming distress, bare chested, breathing in flaps, bursts and jets of activity.

-Unseen Flirtations

Finlay’s Hours: ‘Question’

 

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

(note: Even in 20/20 hindsight, I can’t unravel the crypticism of this poem. God knows what was going through my head at the time of writing)

 

Question

Is this the bravest thing I wrote:
Do these words show naïve hope?

-Unseen Flirtations

Finlay’s Hours: ‘Some Shapes in the Sunshine’

 

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

We slowly pick our way through treacle days,
Our arms outstretched in constant hesitation.
New born: each step in studied desperation,
Eyes down, to see the feet and find a way

To navigate. We stagger in directions
Dictated by this landscape we have made
Of scattered twigs and dust and naked questions
That sit like snares with open jaws. We wait

For day. But simple light is all it brings.
Illuminating what we cannot see
At night. And struggle still to really see,
With no idea of what these shapes could mean.

-Unseen Flirtations

Finlay’s Hours: ‘Attenborough’s Cameras (Interrupted)’

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

(note: A lot of these poems were written right by Finlay’s bedside, and at times, they would be interrupted not by new thoughts, but by actual medical emergencies – by which I mean things of a medical nature that emerged. This is one such example)

Attenborough’s Cameras (interrupted)

He sleeps in a din. A cacophony of bleeps and
Jungular rhythms and audible sighs
That whisper and hiss. Each dip and each peak a
Wing flap that flutters to canopy skies.

Therein, he lies. Entangled in creepers,
Twisted in cables, anemones, vines
That trace around limbs, around hands, over feet and
Disguise all his features from flickering eyes.

Our eyes, that hover like Attenborough’s cameras,
Scanning the landscape. His body provides
Exploratory—

“Are you sure you’re ok to watch this?”
She asks. I’m standing apart, watching two hands become four as problems emerge and get solved. Mechanics, they operate with intensity, sometimes not gently, feeding tubes deep into his body. Withdrawing dip sticks from this miracle engine, bending, tuning and bending again tubes in various directions. Heart rate jumps, 200 plus. Oxygen falls, 90 below. I know what this means and brace myself to be asked to leave as the crash team arrives to intervene. Lunch breaks interrupted and parents gently ushered out of swinging double doors into echoing corridors. I’m still, watching. Numbers fall and rise in the wrong directions. Instructions arrive in haste, as well as speed, a few fumbles, further instruction, sail boat focus, race determination, everything for function towards destination. I’m far away, but I’ve stayed. I’m staying – I’ll surf the fluctuations and dip-climbing waves with my beat-slow heart and unwavering gaze. Then I am brave. Am I sure I’m ok? Impossible to say as split second decisions remain split seconds away.

And then – a blue-handed high five. I smile, bovine friendly and uncomprehending, eyes panning side to side. Another moment survived, like Attenborough’s cameras; in front, or behind, left, to right, on the wrong or right side.

-Unseen Flirtations

Finlay’s Hours: ‘Updates’

 

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

Like a morphine drip,
Relief hits
And my central nervous system grabs it:
Trying to form a habit.

So I’ll need a bigger fix
To deliver another lift
Before my heart sinks:
I’m becoming an addict.

-Unseen Flirtations

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