Wednesday 27 November 2019
Tuesday 26 November 2019
And as you and Dad and I know, finding the good news seems an almost impossible feat these days. Everywhere is humanity in crisis. With each step of seeming progress we strangle ourselves and our planet. For each glimpse of an extraordinary human rights achievement like the UN’s adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we decimate ourselves with slavery, genocide and war.
Into each troubled time, a prophet emerges. Vilified, of course, by many, but onto these individuals entire nations pin their hopes for action.
So what’s the good news?
Greta is the good news.
In a time of instagram frenzy for likes, and a reality TV show host for President - one who crucially did not sign the Paris Agreement - Greta Thunberg takes personal responsibility for climate change activism. Watching her meet senior officials and instead of playing the smiling game, be the straight talking activist she is, is radical.
There is talk of a Nobel Peace Prize, which makes me think of Malala Yousafzai becoming the global voice of girls’ education, and like Greta, being the daughter of a man who listens and demonstrates no particular ego in sitting beside his daughter as an equal.
Friday 4 October 2019
the crocuses are out
And when the snowdrops
and when the bluebells
and how to listen, carefully,
to the nesting birds
between our rooms.
Daisies will come
and roses will grow
and perhaps we shall walk
and reminisce about the snow
and kick up some leaves
and weave up some dreams
while the world passes by
my father and I.
© Shaista Tayabali
(Dverse Poets Open Link)
Dad fell hard on the concrete pavement outside our house, broke his femur and had surgery a few weeks ago. His road to recovery is long, challenging and filled with his extraordinary light.
Friday 30 August 2019
Last night I trawled the house looking for a fan and came up empty handed...
This summer has been a summer of children coming and going - one nephew and niece from Singapore, and now my twin nieces from Malaysia, and as you can imagine their houses are designed perfectly for intense tropical heat, the humid or the dry kind. ‘Where’s the air conditioning?’ Bella asks, as she flings herself about in my bed trying and failing to get comfortable.
And wondering what the four children make of their aunt with her tablets, and eye drops and staying in bed so much, and chipping off to the hospital for hours and hours, and sometimes days, weeks... but after the ghastly campylobacter and PICC lines of earlier this year I seem to have escaped nasty infections thus far. (Touching wood madly...)
I had some scuffles with A&E, am hobbling around with Achilles bursitis trying to catch Pokémon, balancing my days finely on excruciating migraines... a new drug and I did not fare well together and my steroids have been souped up. Rituximab is around the corner albeit half the dose and twice as far apart. Also, I had a birthday with hand made cards and some delicious Malaysian food …
Friday 9 August 2019
Yesterday, a butterfly -
- white, monarch -
I scent my grandmother near.
She was not a poet
Nor a deep thinker,
But she liked the quiet,
Which was strange
Because she hated to be bored;
And yet she could sit for hours
On balconies, in conservatories,
With only herself for company,
A book, a ticking clock,
And the sky - ever changing, ever the same.
©Shaista Tayabali, 2019
Inspired by Vera, my beloved grandmother who died a few days after my birthday, six years ago... both our anniversaries are coming up as Vera and I were born only two days apart. Many lifetimes but only two days...
Wednesday 29 May 2019
England's green is unlike any other.
So I stop by the bridges,
and let the green wash me clean.
Eyes, ears, nose and... breathe.
I know I live in a conservationist's dream.
The birds mark time with me.
Chweet! Trreet! Prreet!
Have you ever tried to transcribe
the song of a bird? It is beyond me.
I catch Pokémon as I walk - the game
that reflects our real world biome.
On my phone, in the palm of my hand,
friendly creatures snarl and land
feet from me, greeting me.
Old worlds, new worlds,
we are the other, we are each other.
All it takes is a different sense of seeing,
that I am you, and you are me.
Captured now and then,
and now again free.
(c) Shaista Tayabali, 2019
inspired by Anmol for Dverse Poetics: On Wandering & Observing)
Thursday 16 May 2019
to move one way or another;
an infinity of maybes and what ifs.
A bird muscles her way
through a series of calls,
like twanging rubber bands on repeat.
Nothing helps a human
to make a decision,
Everything is obscured.
We are a series of obfuscations,
an infinity of chaos.
Yesterday, my tears were a hurricane.
Today, I am sitting in a stripe of sun.
Tomorrow, the purpose I sought
will greet me at my door,
and welcome me home.
© Shaista Tayabali, 2019
For Dverse Poetry
Friday 26 April 2019
Sunday 31 March 2019
Back to hanami in the heart of town. I arrived too late on Japan Day to enjoy any of the food - of course, Japanese food would be the first to be devoured! But I did sit down at the calligraphy table, and I did buy some beautiful handcrafted lavender scented worry dolls made by Kazuko, the chef herself!
I was so charmed by a young girl in her grandmother’s kimono, that I wrote to the administrator to say so, to thank them for the day. The person who wrote back turned out to be the charming girl’s mother! Which is always handy. When people praise me to my mother, I know she appreciates my daughter-ness. Filial success!
Hiroko replied, inviting me back for an informal hanami celebration. She is learning the ways of the tea ceremony herself, and I was guest of honour. The matcha was delicious, so lucky to have had two bowls (chavan), and the cake and sweets were all perfectly balanced.
Monday 25 March 2019
(sharing with Dverse Poets Open Link Night)
Today is the one year anniversary since my friend Shelagh Cheesman passed away. Shelagh loved spring, the blossom and the warmth that returned to her Raynaud's afflicted fingers. I miss her, I have grieved the loss of her, and I feel her guiding hand strongest this month.
Our mutual friend Colette, Shelagh and I also shared a love of these doll necklaces that were sent by Meme, another lupus-pal who lives far away in Australia, but really only a heartbeat away by snail mail, and email, and her loving spirit. Onward we go, with the friends who take care of our hearts.
Friday 8 March 2019
I was relieved when I saw the bread
And paused beside the bridge;
I watched the swan sip,
And sunlight dip,
Friday 22 February 2019
(On the one hand, I am privileged to be taken care of in an excellent teaching hospital by skilful doctors and deeply caring, efficient nurses... on the other... well, on the other ... is a needle in my wrist, a PICC line in my arm, twenty tablets needing to be swallowed... but if I may borrow a third hand - yours - there is also spring... and crocuses... and summer to come... if I am weepy for now, bear with me, as winter bears up till spring.)
Thursday 14 February 2019
Who are you, bug of my gut? Why do you wish me to be your home? You have turned my body into a battlefield and I look nothing like a warrior anymore. I am the slain defeated soldier, wishing only for the earth to open and swallow her whole.
Campylobacter. Another name acquired to add to the list. Did you know it is a common enough bacteria mostly found in poultry? Chicken specifically - factory farmed, sad toxic little chicken... but also the plastic packaging which contains the chicken, and any fresh produce which comes into contact with either. So really, just about anything can host the little devils. Many people in the UK population have had campylobacter chomp away at them for a day or a few days or a week. But the normal body expels the unwanted intruder ...
Perhaps we should all be vegans but we have developed such a deep and passionate art for cooking throughout the ages and embedded in every culture and nationality, that to erase meat and fish for the sake of the occasional gut attack, appeals to a select few. We know we contain bacteria within us - just as we ourselves once were bacteria...
Then there’s your tricky antibody deficient, immuno suppressed lupus patient.
I had mysterious bouts of sepsis several times in 2017 until this bacteria was finally discovered in my bloodstream - where it should not have been. This is supposed to be a strictly gut bug. We pelted it with IV antibiotics and thought ourselves in the clear. But all through last year I have been trailing behind a sense of weariness, an unwellness hard to define. Was my dosage of Rituximab too low? Too spaced out? Did I need a new drug added in? More steroid?
I travelled to the East, and seemed on the surface to have managed miraculously well... but every evening and by nightfall I was close to tears with whatever it was that was battling away inside of me. As soon as I returned home from Singapore I went into an exhausted depression under my duvet, and thence into the grip of fierce abdominal pain. Was it my kidneys finally declaring nephritis? I even wondered if I’d had a mini heart attack, so intense was the painful grip.
The psyche of a lupus patient is a horrible fascination. For months now I have felt despair and entrapment at the thought of this being IT. I have always somehow freed myself from the idea that the future is bleak because I will always be ill... but this time around I seem to have less will, less reserves...
Today is Valentine’s Day and my present is that the medical team have agreed to stop the three streams of antibiotics that were eradicating me with their toxicity. It will take time for my system to clear itself of these drugs ... but the PICC line is still in place so it is hard to believe such a time will come. It will come. Will it?
I could have waited to write an article when light and hope had replaced the nauseating struggle, but this is real too. This in the middle of the thing, this neverending ghastliness that is the nature of this life. Waiting for the energy of hope to pulse within.
Thursday 17 January 2019
in a black wool skirt
splashed across with koi;
red fins, white bellies,
swimming in the creases
as she moves.
The skirt is from a tiny shop
in France; she says this sadly,
knowing she cannot satisfy
my craving for koi
beneath my own fingers,
in friendly wool.
I pass Fiona Sampson’s ‘Orpheus Variation’,
and travel up the long tube
to the topmost floor,
which tucks me away
from apheresis, and other humans,
and I swim
into the closed wards of the infected,
the diseased, worming in to join
the dark night of our souls.
But when the blood moon draws closer,
and blue Monday arrives, I arise
and begin to shed the creature that holds sway;
small sheddings are small victories, these days.
©Shaista Tayabali, 2019
participating in Dverse Poets Pub