Ceinwen Haydon

Ceinwen Haydon lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and print anthologies. She was Highly Commended in the Blue Nib Chapbook Competition [Spring 2018], won the Hedgehog Press Poetry Competition ‘Songs to Learn and Sing’ [August 2018] and was shortlisted for the Neatly Folded Paper Pamphlet Competition, Hedgehog Press [October 2018]She is a winner in the Nicely Folded Paper Pamphlet Competition (July 2019). Her first Chapbook is due to be published shortly, (‘Cerddi Bach’ [Little Poems], a Stickleback by Hedgehog Press. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University (2017) and she is developing practice as a creative writing facilitator with hard to reach groups. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

Mariam [Yida Camp, South Sudan]

Mariam’s sleeping body shifts
seeps fluids. Blood, sweat, milk and tears
leak on pallets in the women’s tent.
Her stains join others and dry, scrub and soap resistant.
 
These stubborn marks record her life
and her sisters’ times –
all who hid bold hopes,
those who wandered through before
and the ones who died here.
 
Each daybreak she wakes, ignores her stomach’s ache
and scans the sky for signs of water or escape.
 
One day, your British plane comes in and there you stand.
 
In your face, western woman, Mariam sees
shock haunt naïve eyes.
She knows your faint heart
defies knowledge, deflects comprehension –
 
desperate she reaches out
invites you to rest by her desert-dusted body,
hear her stories, feel her emaciated arms,
sleep in her hard bed. Bids you try
to walk one day in her thin-soled shoes.

Caring

chinks of light knife our curtains apart
I fart   sniff and waft the smell away
she stirs beside me   beneath her thin mound
of covers/chequered blankets woven in Welsh mills

her moist brow and thin pale lips fill my eyes
how can lips deflate   I remember them so
full/warm and greedy  their welcome
an invitation to join more than mouths

my tired memory is long   I prop up
on my elbow   haul myself to sit   swing my legs
out of bed   wince as muscles snatch/aches spread
feet find slippers rooted overnight   placed
in their normal space
by the po   routines reassure
my anxious fear-bound hope that soon she’ll leave
my bladder drives me to our backyard netty
and I fret –
today   will her meds help her to be numb
drift her pain away …
inside   I lay our fire/set water to boil
arrange her breakfast tray   weak tea
linctus and soft-boiled egg –
this last
a soft gesture    she hasn’t eaten in a week

upstairs   our bedroom door stutters
rocked by my heavy feet   I force a smile
to greet her   before I see
I can let my true face show
grief smudged with relief
for we have been released

A Sure Giveaway 

The first time I noticed was when you took me to bed. 
You claimed you were tired of free-wheeling
wanted to settle down for good. 
 
It throbbed into view again
when the pregnancy test was positive. 
You acted pleased, said great, move in with me. 
 
Years later, I said, I don’t understand. 
Your old lover’s photo’s your screensaver.
Your temple almost popped under the pressure,
that night you went out and got canned. 
 
Last month, I came across you in town, 
saw you slink into the bookies, like it was home. 
When I queried that night you lied
and almost kept calm 
apart from a distinct pulsation.
 
Last week, your GP found a small lump
in your balls. Quite common, she said. 
But we’ll refer you just to be sure.
Better safe than dead. 
 
Today, you were checked at the clinic. 
Six hours on
you sway back from the pub.
All’s good, you say,
glance back over your shoulder,
and go to climb the stairs to bed. 
 
The landing light catches your frown,
ridged and set like steel – 
 
and that small blue vein
on the side of your forehead throbs.
 
Gobshite, I scream, For fuck’s sake,
Can’t you stop pretending, even now?

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