The 22nd

The current term of my creative writing programme is all about poetry. Lots of reading, critiquing, analysing, and, of course, writing. We’re being asked to write about things that move us deeply. And to share work from published writers (who I think of as ‘real‘ poets) that inspire us.

The first poem I wrote this term is about saying goodbye to Sofie. She comes to mind so clearly on the 22nd of each month: the date of her death (in February) as well as the date of her birth (in December).

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An ode to rosacea

Note the red streak down my forehead and the bright flashes on my nose, cheeks, and chin in this un-filtered, un-colour-corrected photo taken mid-cardio

As long as I can remember, my skin has been prone to redness. Exercise turns my face into a blotchy tomato. Cold and wind burnish my skin to a ruddy shine. Even washing my face, no matter how gently, leaves it pink. And there’s a good reason I apply SPF 50 daily—UV rays and I are not friends!

I’ve dealt with acne and/or rosacea (dermatologists can’t agree which is the underlying issue) most of my adult life and have tried just about everything to fix it. Cutting out dairy. Limiting processed sugar. Applying expensive creams. Buying celeb-endorsed treatment systems (Proactiv was both ineffective and bleached my pillowcases). Using prescription ointments. Attempting hormonal intervention (so thankful to be off the pill!). Taking antibiotics… then different antibiotics… and even more kinds of antibiotics. And now retinoids, which at least deliver moderate improvement.

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Poetry by memory

Earlier this week my mum mentioned that it would have been her father’s 104th birthday. It shocked me to realise how long ago he passed away… more than a decade and a half. Despite not having many memories of my younger years (I’m told I had a happy childhood and the photos certainly support that!), I’ve retained strong impressions of my grampa. They’re mostly fleeting images or smells or a remembered turn of phrase or tone of voice; often comforting and rarely complete. And sometimes those memories arise at strange times.

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Pandemic entertainment

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

Keeping entertained during the novel coronavirus crisis is a balancing act.

I’m torn between wanting to stay informed about the current state of the world (physically distant, begrudgingly hyper-local with an undercurrent of pervasive anxiety) and the desire to dig my head in the sand. I don’t want to numb myself to reality, but I also know that too much awareness about the number of infections, the dangerous absurdities unfolding in the US, and the prognostications on when we’ll return to ‘normal’ (ha!) are bad for my mental health.

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