Most mornings it is a mound
A heaping pile of glistening pebbles
Pearly white or shining ebony
(depending on my mood)
I feel it brimful, topped up, an hourglass ready and full,
but often I awake and it’s already half-gone.
The sun moves across the sky
shadows shift and winds change
And each pebble drops noiselessly
It leaves not a vacuum, not empty space
An empty weight that presses down
pushing the next pebbles forcefully through
Their shaft opening greasily, yawning wide
until the bulk of the pebbles fall
and I am left with pressure alone
that bends my shoulders and curves my back
lowers my brow and grinds my teeth
furrows the lines from nose to mouth
picks at my cuticles and tears at my nails
exhaled in sharp breaths and paining my stomach
I take deep breaths
count to four
blow out slowly
count to seven
isolate the tension
be mindful of surroundings
one or two orbs pop gracefully back through
comforting ease like small hands on my skin
they wobble and fall as easily
tentative balance broken
I bend, cracking, creaking, groaning
counting the minutes until I can collapse
and let it build again.
It helps to be held at the end of the day
or in the middle.
Arms around me bring the pebbles up
patting them back into place.
Freeing my lungs
Lightening my feet
And I can take the load again
Answer the questions
Find the sought-after
Give the instructions
Laugh and enjoy
until the pebbles sink low
tinged with red
have a cup of tea
put the pebbles back
Byron said “She walks in beauty” —
He mentions no worry
I wish I were she.
Relaxed and fulfilled
Accepting and ready to embrace . . .
I try to remember what it was to be small
To be young and new
Everything massive and frightening and free
If I can see light through their eyes
Remember the joys and heartbreaks
Confusion and revelation
Competition and pride
The pressure lessens as the hourglass refills
in defiance of physics.
Every year gravity gets stronger
Harder to resist.
Savour the small moments of peace
that allow the pebbles to surface again.
Tomorrow the struggle returns.