By Melissa Lee-Houghton
Key Themes: poetry, bereavement, bad love, breakdown, psychiatric care, Bipolar Affective Disorder, puerperal psychosis, Manic-Depressive Episode
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Patterns of Mourning began after a tragic bereavement and takes the course of a damaging love-affair in which the narrator becomes increasingly unstable and detached from reality. Written by a young mother coming-of-age, suffering the trauma of a severe Manic-Depressive Episode, this vivid account of grief, loneliness and love is a sprawling, relentless confessional poem, composed by pastiche of deconstructed emails, letters and delineated manic, longhand prose. Written over the course of the narratorís breakdown and whilst in psychiatric care, nightmares both lived and imagined conjure obsessive hallucinatory manifestations to form an ecstatic and melancholic diary of all the inner processes of one going mad, alone.
About the Author
Melissa Lee-Houghton is a Northern writer of poetry and prose. She is currently working on her first full collection of poems and writes for The Short Review. Born in 1982 in Wythenshawe, Manchester, she has lived in Lancashire all her adult life after uprooting due to family breakdown. Taken out of school at 13 to attend a child psychiatric unit, it became obvious to those around her that she was intense and troubled, and episodes of self-harm during severe anxiety and depression led to her being admitted and assessed in psychiatric care, aged 14. Diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder at 15, Melissa has suffered numerous episodes which resulted in severe personal trauma and a chronic battle with medications. She suffered post-natal depression as a single teenage parent, and experienced harrowing puerperal psychosis after the birth of her second child, in 2006.
I begin, every day, ten fingers searching for clues.
When there is nothing more physical than a letter
I call a truce with my body for you. Donít rest
Like I do; itíll do no good;
Making a conscious decision to sleep,
To bed my pangs, my hungers.
The rooftops make patterns of the dark, the shadows.
My century and yours
Wait, like the tumbling of accusations.
Today I sat on a bus, virtually tired,
And imagined the journeys I could have met,
Alongside the labours, the hungers,
But my body will not allow it.
What kind of genius is this? The petulance
Of making love of scraps.
I breathe you, the words I read last night
Stop me, from looking to the clock for an opinion.
Your country and mine, form a perfect cinema
Of all that became wrong but started
As a silent picture.
The time you guessed I might have held
The pages, to my breast, a replica
Of time-owed life. Now we read,
And let the words dry.
I let you down though I doubt you know it.
Even now, a mottled vocabulary,
Miscommunication and Truth.
I cannot tell myself this cannot be done;
My confidence is more appalling than the lie,
It seems. Do not rest beside me, it would do no good
Even when I dream you are
Waking inside me.
I donít write because I know what I need to say.
I commit under sufferance.
An identity moving away from
If I get older and do not know you
Or the voice that appraises your being there;
We wonít wither without one.
I keep on at the dawn, the staring at digital red dots,
Keeping no-one elseís time.
You are urging me to quieten. Iím sleeping
There is much more to come, to offer,
To whom? Iím married already to this doom
Keeping on at the silence
When it takes me.
There has been an impact.
I am throwing out the old, giving up the new
Which collaborate like trench-diggers.
Where I used to manage I fail at will.
I fall random; I leave the perspectives to the dead
I trust, in nothing.
It all goes. My love moves with it.
The sour appreciations of what once was love.
And it goes
With the bedclothes scattered.
A lonely night like any other.
I would miss it, if I had a chance.
Itís gone five. A morning. A new one.
But similar, to the opening of curtains, the rituals,
The time you donít see, the thoughts you canít
Dwell on. I miss you,
Like I miss everything Iíve ever loved.
I wanted, just the time to begin
Without so much hesitation. Iím dying,
But not for art, the art of wanting,
The art of sleeping, empty
Grieving things not gone.
Itís a strange little irony,
That I started to write the patterns of mourning
Earlier than you gave me time to let you leave.
Iím always waiting. My daughter
Is waiting, for the time when I will grow
Into another object she can challenge.
The misadventure you met me with
Is teeming with it. A pattern;
Letters written, night letters; right letters.
Write. Is it that you want me to throw more caution?
To catastrophe? I can,
But wait like another victim of instance.
If you ever reach back to me in the night
From too much loss, I reach back with notions.
Comfortable only in the text,
The blood, my love, is frozen. The flesh
Is nothing better than a night in a warm bed.
I will miss you when I am forcing you to write
Something almost touching on how I felt when I still could.
Have you saved us both yet? The promise
Will still haunt me, the waiting for a letter. A flame,
A perspective to gnaw at.
I am, just a distance,
Pouring out the heat
Of something more human in love.
This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 24 June, 2008.