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.
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?