Who Am I?

by Madeleine F White

(for Amanda)

Who am I?
I am a feather, white and soft;
The breeze holds me aloft.

Who am I?
I am naught but what You wrought,
With You and in You,
Around You.
No self yet as I reach for mother’s breast.

Who am I?
I am two wings, fuller and stronger
Beating and gliding, 
Joyfully sliding
On currents of air that whisper to me.

Who am I?
I am she, part of mother and family.
Her of the scraped knee,
Grieving for a snail’s passing.

Who am I?
I am a creature of air and being.
My wings hold me aloft, my eyes are far-seeing.
I dance and I twirl
But labour more
To stay aloft as I did before.

Who am I?
I am the sister, the daughter; I study
I can’t do it all
The sprawl of me is pulled and pushed too frequently.
Trying my best is muddied.

Who am I?
Myself I grow larger and harder,
I still sing with the stars and the moon when I can
But my wings have not grown.
So, if the sun does not burn through the clouds I sink,
A fledgling woman growing up to soon,
But still I have wings.

Who am I?
I paint, learn and play,
I have plenty to say
I cry and I sigh –
All alone today.
I am sad, coz I’m bad.
But, I can still see the light,
I write.

Who am I?
My wings do not hold
The clouds were too wet
Myself was too great.
I am fallen,
But, rest at the side of a lake.
I see the reflection of rippling light,
It dispels any fears of the coming night.

Who am I?
I eat and I toil
I drink and I spoil
I read and I hear
But know night is near.
Despite a him in my life I live in fear.

Who am I?
I thirst, the lake is beckoning,
I drink, but beyond reckoning slip and dip
My weight pulls me down.
I go further and panic…
But then see two little hands
Reaching down, reaching in after me, I am pulled back to land.

Who am I?
I am mother and loved
A him and her.
No me, no sleep, no time
But love, sublime - all encompassing.
It’s real, I feel
I Fear.

Who am I?
I thirst some more
It’s worse than before.
And the water doesn’t look clean anymore.
However, I am bound to this ground,
And know if I drink I might sink.
I thirst, I go
I sink faster and further
Through the murk below;
Oily and black, wings plastered to my back.

Who am I?
I work 28 hours in a day
No time to watch three now at play
No time to be, no time to see.
No money.
I pray and say:
“Help, I see no way out today.”

Who am I?
I choke, I can’t see
I scream, I can’t hear.
Grasping weeds at the bottom increase my fear.
I look up though and see
Some light,
So I struggle harder, with all my might.

Who am I?
I drink, I don’t think
A tear in my eye is brushed away,
No time today.
Unknown and alone but
I pray. 

Who am I?
I am in the dark
The light but a spark,
I am alone far from all I’ve known.
It is cold. I am old.
Ready to go?
So I reach for the light and
It grows.

Who am I?
I wake from a sleep so deep.
Should be dead, say thank you instead.
I throw the bottle away
Him and him and her and her, they need me today.
I pray.

Who am I?
A hand through the light
I hold on with all might.
It’s slippery, slow,
But I won’t let go.
It pulls me to land,
I’m on the sand
Can’t see my wings, but can feel
I look up to the sky, 
I will try.

Who am I?
I am she in a house and a chair
Admiring the other’s silver hair,
Her eyes of compassion
Her hands of healing,
A peaceful feeling.

Who am I?
I still thirst, but with dry wings
I look not to the lake to slake this thirst.
It has done its worst.
My wings are soiled, my body is spoiled,
But I look to the sky and
My wings dry.

Who am I?
I am in His place
I can see His face
I don’t kneel but lie on the cool stone floor.
I leave myself on the cross and I walk through the door.

Who am I?
I am a feather, not white and not soft
But I love the breeze and it holds me aloft.

Who am I?
I am She.
I am Me.
I am not afraid.
I am remade.

Madeleine F White was born in Germany, with roots in Canada and the UK. A magazine publisher and editor, she has produced national and international web and print magazines, creating a voice for those without one, such as the successful Nina-Iraq, a project she worked on with the World Bank to reach out to Iraqi women everywhere. Since 2019, she has been founder/editor of Write On! magazine and Write on Extra e-zine and Write On! podcast, published by Pen to Print, an Arts Council NPO organisation.

Her novel Mother of Floods is available online and in bookshops in the UK, US and Canada and through Amazon and other online retailers. Sisters Of Storms, a companion novel, is due for release in 2024.

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