I don’t recall my first birth!
I was born again, to Jesus, 18 years later, or
For that matter, my first steps or words.
Imagine your first memory; is being thrust
From your mother’s womb; Dear god!
Some say they do, I’m not so sure,
how Freudian is that.
Nor do I recall my first flu, a few weeks later
Or the penicillin which nearly achieved,
what the flu could not,
How many times since,
have I filled in that ‘allergies’ box?
My first memory of Mum, aged three..that’s me,
was in hospital with my new born sister
Taken there by my gran of whom,
my first abiding memory is in the house,
where she,and her mother and mothers mother,
had been born bred and buttered.
With a cigarette in her bony hand and
long finger of ash on it like a twig
of a silver birch tree, ready to fall into,
the pan where she had just thrown
the still wriggling fresh skinned eel
my grandfather caught only an hour before.
Another cigarette smouldering,
on a wee dish, beside the stove,
and another by her favourite chair.
And yes she died of cancer way before her time
but looking so much older.
My first day at pre-school aged 3 ¾,
Miss Churchill’s school of elocution.
Somewhere in the suburbs (of course)
of Manchester, where on my first day
I had to stand on the table because my accent was;
too pikey I suppose for her erudite ears.
And my first day in a catholic primary,
in Ballymena hey,(we hail from there)
where there too I had to stand on the desk.
I didn’t even know what a Hail Mary was,
never mind able to recite out loud,
to the rest of the class. The utter shame of it!
The first realization I had,
of sectarian hatred,
was in my granny’s kitchen
some man, Paisley all rant & rave & rage
(fulminating, just because I like the word)
on the radio, and i saw the hurt in her face.
The cheeks of my arse long recall,
The first time my father hurt me,
life’s pubescent theme until,
the day I absconded for the last time.
He squared up to me… I realized then,
how small, old and grey a man he had become.
My first fantasy at school, a PE teacher,
looking younger than his years,
First love at Uni, a Butler from Mullingar,
both unrequited and unknown, un-noticed of course.
1st person I confessed my shame to,
And my very first (in)-/ nay glorious kiss with him.
My baptism (a ritual initiation) at 18 by immersion,
not in the sea as I wished, and
the disappointment when I told my gran,
and she said…sure don’t they kick with the wrong foot.
That moment I thought god spoke to me,
Directly and utterly to me,
And when I finally got the cosmic joke.
When my father told me, aged 21,
of his resolve at my birth,
to each and every day ensure
I feared him, and he did.
That moment I held my son,
as his mother’s womb was being sewn closed,
and how effortlessly I offered oaths,
and promises of a different kind,
to any gods old or new that would listen.
He grasped my fore finger, sneezed,
bartering water for air as is a new-born’s way,
and we shook on it.
1st sex with my son’s mother,
after we married,
and the fact that she cried.
Years later, with a man,
and the fact that he laughed,
never having seen ginger hair, down there!
1st time I told David,
my love and life now for 11 years,
that I was in love with him;
….and that he couldn’t,
say the same back to me at that moment
but, he did when the time was right.
In hospital again, where nurses pleaded,
with grandpa Davey to hang in and stay with them;
I lost my first relative within sight and sound
as his alcohol addled aorta ruptured
and emptied the cavity of his heart,
into the void of his chest.
The night I knelt beside a fallen colleague,
and friend; in the Parliament Bar
as his hearts blood spread out and around him.
The night I knelt beside a young soldier,
called Cyril Smith, how we ribbed him;
torn apart, stripped to his union jack boxers
and I perhaps said my first and last truly heartfelt prayer.
The very first time as a grown man,
I feared I would die
& the time I wanted to die,
and the first time I very nearly did die
…. So now I want to live.
I pulled and pointed a gun on someone,
and saw their fear,
but wondered where mine was.
The first bewildering moments,
after wakening up having been;
’blown up’…. And the joy,
at feeling limbs and fingers and,
my torn bloody head were all still connected
That dreadful evening,
I told my son’s mother I was gay,
and to this day am still shocked,
that she didn’t know, and that I could have been so so wrong….
and yet my mother and in her 70’s seemed so,
agreeably unsurprised etc
The second time in my life,
I said’ I do’… and knowing I would.
The reality of my 50th birthday,
and my son laughingly telling me,
to ‘behave old man….. old man!’,
and not for the first time.
Finally, the first time I heard my son,
and his love tell me they were ‘pregnant’.
I doubt it will be the last….
and that makes me happy.
despite knowing that the first times in life
now, are more often than not,
mostly in my life,also the last times….
Still part the journey, a going on.