Susan Wilson’s poems quietly and sensitively explore the range of feelings – numbness, pain and longing – experienced after losing a loved one, enacting within their poetic structures the motions and process of grief.
Missing the Train
Or how morphine takes a loved one and leaves you with the pain
The train whizzes by and I see you again.
A passing glimpse
then away you go.
No schedule to hand and no chance to prepare.
No time for a question
just the breeze.
Finally you’re here and you’re talking to me.
You love me so much
and I love you.
I manage a smile and I squeeze in a hug.
Then you’re off again
until next time.
But there’s no next time, the train’s gone forever.
Just physical space
and me waiting.
Music To My Ears
My real voice lives inside my head and I feel its words talk to me.
Confused? Why don’t you climb inside my head?
I’ll give you a tour.
Over here is my conscience, sitting up high
and over there is a little girl listening to her music.
She’s watching her memories
and waiting for her future to arrive.
You’ll see all the people I’ve ever known –
when I remember them that is.
And here is my special place for the disappearing faces,
the ones called away by a voice I could not hear.
Their images have been recorded onto my walls,
where they have conversations with both my voices.
They answer me in my head with theirs,
warm with smiles from a past ageing better than me.
My real voice talks me up on dull days:
tales of me climbing up onto the stones that nearly crushed me.
See how the falling dust has mixed with my tears?
It’s brushing me in fresh colours onto a new landscape.
I’m waiting for that image to dry.
It’s unknown and yet strangely
familiar voices in my head discuss dilemmas that I face,
their views tend to echo my own.
I’m always searching for the real me:
I see an old body, flipped around, in the mirror
and the photos hidden in the album ask:
Is this really you?
Well, it was.
My thoughts are holding me close,
they’re saying what I write is dictated from beyond.
That’s the place where the faces disappeared to and –
so my voices tell me –
where my real face and voice will go to
when my ears hear a voice call me home.
When they told you that your loved one was dying,
were you able to lift yourself up above time?
It’s an empty space where you float along as moments pass
and you feel no need to look into the past or the future.
You know what’s gone and you know what’s ahead.
Drifting, you hold each precious second close,
like your loved one,
and as you travel along in this altered state,
you are with them,
until time finally steals them away.
Then you can come down again
into the crowded space
where the flow of time is painfully perceived.
Where healing and theft
are slow and fast,
where bad times drag
and good times fly,
wishing you could return to that place,
in the belief that it’s where your loved one lies.
About Susan Wilson
Susan worked in the City of London for 36 years, in roles ranging from Bilingual Chairman’s PA to Document Production Technician. Following redundancy in 2014, she became her mother’s full-time carer until her death from lung cancer in November 2017 at St. Joseph’s Hospice.
Susan began writing poetry shortly afterwards and joined The St. Joseph’s Writers’ Group (subsequently renamed The Inspired by Grief Writers’ Group) where the bereaved could write poetry, prose and conversations to deal with their emotions of grief and loss. In July 2018 the Group self-published “Good Grief” as a fundraiser. Susan assisted in its design and wrote six of its poems.
Between January and March 2019 she attended a series of workshops at Burley Fisher Books in Dalston, entitled “Regenerate”. The closing event featured guest appearances by Juliet Jacques and Irenosen Okojie and was marked by the publication of “Making Ourselves Up: The Regenerate Reader”. It included four of Susan’s poems. Irenosen Okojie liked Susan’s poems and encouraged her to perform them at open mic nights.
In February and June 2019 Susan was a keynote speaker at two conferences organised by Cerner, an American company active in the healthcare sector. She shared the experience of her mother’s end-of-life care to demonstrate the positive impact of Cerner’s connected information software.
Prior to the pandemic Susan was attending the Hospice’s qigong/mindfulness group, creating her own artwork in their Doodle Group and volunteering in the Chaplaincy Department. She was also performing her poetry at Spineless Authors, a monthly open mic night in East London.
More recently, she has completed a Poetry Masterclass at City Lit in London and her poems also feature on Snakeskin.
Contact Susan on: firstname.lastname@example.org