The month of Samhain 2022

Witches’ New Year approaches. With that, I’m Autumn cleaning, creatively speaking, at least. Washing away the dust of the summer fires, sweeping this germ-ridden circle clogged with ash. I say this with every positive intention, which in the current climate of my sick house, it’s not so simple. Some things are outwith control, but I try flow with, around, through it. (I may have recited ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ a few too many times).
Starting with the writing. I’ve taken part in only a few invite-only opportunities. This year, it has been difficult to say no, but something I’ve had to learn to do fast. It’s been challenging; each opportunity offered has been for a great project, and I am profoundly grateful to be asked. Short fiction writing has been on the back burner, which was always this year’s plan to invest in my degree studies and researching/writing longer works. Moving on, a quick recap of my own books released and scheduled to tie up 2023:

Asylum Daughter
Novella
5th May 2022

Incesticide: Collected Horror
Short Fiction Collection
14th December 2022

Clan Witch: Found Shadows
Poetry and Drabble Collection
31st December 2022

There has been lots of work going on in Brazen Folk Horror, which I launched with Ruthann Jagge this year. Here we share regular updates on ‘The Making of Delevan House’. We have many plans to execute, so it’s a great space to follow. You are cordially invited! We expect you to put in some effort—get tight-lacing, break out the good cloak, your best finery, and you better buy an extravagant hat while you’re at it. It’ll be one hell of a ride! You will want to be watching for that pre-order date as soon as we announce it. In the meantime, come enjoy the brazen tease and seduction.

Well, it’s been tumultuous and stable on the homestead with no middle ground— a seesaw over starving shark-infested waters more than a rollercoaster. The pendulum never stops. My kids and I have been struggling with fresh ongoing health issues since the start of the year when we contracted that virus. It then came in for a second hit in July, which haven’t recovered from. Between chronic coughs requiring prescription medications, chronic fatigue and opportunistic germs that keep jumping on board because of compromised immune systems, it’s been a royal shitshow. With medical support services (the NHS) being abysmal. My family (I) also suffered another pregnancy loss. During the second bout of that virus, my baby’s heart stopped beating, and I gave birth four weeks later. We were (are) devastated.

Grief so intimate is a profound journey we carry with us throughout our time on the rock. Lives that were given a second chance coincided with the loss of my last baby, Averey. My family adopted a small flock of ex-commercial layers (Hens) from The British Hen Welfare Trust. I have shared little updates on their settling-in and shenanigans on social media. The ladies (our little Queens, as we call them. On account of naming them after Drag Queens: Jinkx Monsoon, Bimini bon boulash, Raja and Ginger Minj) are so very full of stories and have settled in as though they’ve always been part of the family. They are part of the clan. Some things are meant to be, and these Queens were never meant for slaughter.

Something about coming from 2021 into 2022 held promise and a thirst for change. More than a thirst, it was a drouth of dry agony. So many I know felt it—a need for rewiring, redirection, reinvention, or simply getting back on track. The year hasn’t quite lived up to the promise. Instead, it’s been more like treading water. Trying to stay afloat, and more, fighting to survive. I guess that’s life for the most part. An ongoing battle, with Jack-in-the-box obstacles springing forth at any given moment. Damn clowns. Tomorrow will be better.

The veil is thinning as the gears continue to cycle. There’s much reflection as we dare to lift the veil and step through the shadows, opening locked doors to visit with ghosts. This season welcomes the shadows, where the light and dark dance. It’s almost Samhain. Listen… whose voice can you hear calling from the ether?

Sweep the circle, burn the candles, lay out the feast, and set out coveted photographs and letters from the dead. They’ll be here soon. )O(

Expectant Miscarriage: Waiting for Averey

Personal blog post

My first was in 2004, a spontaneous natural miscarriage.

My second was in 2013, a missed miscarriage that required medical management.

My subsequent pregnancy ended with extreme preterm natural birth in 2014.

Number four was in 2016, another preterm birth, delivered by emergency caesarean.

2022, another missed miscarriage. I’m currently in the limbo phase of knowing my baby is dead inside my womb. I am waiting for contractions and birth, referred to medically as ‘expectant miscarriage’.

Does that make you uncomfortable? Me using the term ‘birth’ instead of ‘miscarriage’? Does it jar to read ‘contractions’ instead of ‘cramp’?

Some pregnancy and loss terminology has raised personal discomfort since my first. Since I was able to directly relate through lived experience what these words mean, and while much has changed in the professional medical approach to supporting parents through these situations, there are still these underplayed words that almost mute and downplay the experience that a body and mind go through with pregnancy loss (the death of a baby). From my personal experience (and every one is different), ‘mild to severe cramping’ (when the physical process takes hold) is not cramp; these are contractions. Miscarriage is labour. Miscarriage is birth. Miscarriage is still birth. Except, the pain is extended beyond the physical.

Even now, in 2022, it feels like we’re not supposed to talk about these things. Not in any depth anyway. It’s all hushed and quietly ushered into another room. Door closed. Keep it for a support group (at most). I use the term ‘talk’ loosely, as I’m not particularly a talker. I process better quietly, introspectively, creatively and practically than with my mouth or too much external involvement.

A couple of weeks ago, I witnessed my baby actively bouncing around inside my uterus. The flutter of his tiny heartbeat, a symphony of life in black and white. This week, he lay still. There was no flutter, no activity, no life. Cradled inside my uterus, my baby is dead. Baby? Does that make you uncomfortable? Would foetus be better? After all, that’s just a bundle of cells. What about ‘pregnancy tissue’ or ‘products of conception’? Then we can forget about the fully formed central nervous system, circulatory systems, the (recently) rapidly growing brain, organs, heart… it’s just a foetus…

No. He’s my baby. And I can’t stand the disrespect of him being regarded as anything else. My daughters have given him his name, Averey. 🖤

One for Sorrow

One for Sorrow © Natasha Sinclair

I’ve been seeing them for months in fours

Fanned feathers

Celestial blues, flanked with obsidian rainbows—

Four for a boy.

Three days ago,

Three didn’t show.

One flew solo—

One for sorrow.

Yesterday and today, the same—

One for sorrow.

Another silent death inside the chalice of life.

Mother of death—another passes beatless.

At least he will, soon.

It could be hours, days, weeks away.

One for sorrow.

He has no clock,

Only mine ticks on.

Until then, I wait.

Holding the silence within—

The growing void

Of his deathbed.

His roof collapsing from

The haematoma down.

I select a tree, a burial site,

A square I knitted nine years ago,

His teddy.

I consider the name that will be whispered when he slips from my body into my palms,

And my eyes drink his flesh in for the first and final time.

One for Sorrow.

I’m birthing death—

Not for the first time.

Figment

Pressing, softly through the cracks
Fragments of consciousness
Piston hissing speckled the dead-night

Moving electricity aside
She slips in like butter
Melting and reforming to what I once knew

She was melancholy like my heart
Sullen of soul
My scion mirror

The tunnel formed
Attuning the station
Between pre and post mortem
A hollow in this verse
A meeting place

We spoke about mortality
Not with words
It was all there, though
Moths fluttering in the air
It’s been a while…

Since we shared space
Since we shared time
She keeps reminding me, though
Those are figments...

Of faux comfort
Fool’s restraints
Flimsy, weak cortex
It’s not everything
Not even close

The cat’s body is in the next room
Upon the pink bedspread
His marbled fur of coppers and black
Still as the void
I can look if I want, she tells me
He won’t stir yet
But I can’t leave
Paralysed in the serenity
Permeating from her form

There’s so much more to that cat

The sun seeps in
Glimmers strain against the sides
Dagger sharp
Fragments tear the space asunder

I’m here again…
She’s gone.
© Natasha Sinclair

No Good Grief

Gnashing and gnawing at my innards
Viscera shredded; trauma tombs embedded
Stitch in bells, weigh down the nauseating flapping
Jangle a euphonious jingle
Steady placement of chinked shield
Conceal agonies.

U-bend blocked
There my guilt brims
Shame for wishing away rapid cell division
Liquor and voluntary scalding
Natures way away
Life folding poured out
Out of Order; terror of disorder

For two, a freshly dug hole
The morning after
Mourning follows
Nipping at heals with the snow
A hollow in another garden
There, a piece of my heart lays
A depression for my first’s succession

She wants to see my torment on display
To harvest in morbid grief games
Pretend she’s just the same
Catfish loss-mother
Conspiring tiring
Yearning to reap from the suffering leaks of my soul
Observe my lamentations trapped in a fishbowl
To don a cape, be in control
Prodding my wounds, infecting

Imitation empath storing stories
Catalogued, indexed, held hostage
Latching of grief vampires
Sucking ephemeral life’s marrow
Chipping stones off my bones

An archaeologist scraping the shovel
No delicate brushing of bristles
Attention desperation
Desecrating my pain
Self-appointed steward on my cradle’s grave.

Frozen Slack Still

A daughter held him, frozen.
Imitation of new dead still; only air flowing through functioning lungs.
Numb dumb in thought, inaction.
Painfilled love for this new grieving orphan.
The fallen favourite of a Mothers beloved brood.
There would be none of us had she not been; none of his Fatherhood.
A tangled barbed root from which we each came.
Some blessing amongst much insane.
Now there she lay, dead in a bed; frozen slack still.
An empty shell; once wishing well.
Dead in a bed, not even her own.
Eyes pouring in great damming floods; others uncomfortably dry as desert bone.
Through strangers’ hands she passes, between arctic fridges of steel.
Upon the final spin of the great Mothers wheel; scions on the side-lines awaiting the final reveal.
Embalmed, freshly robed in white; encased as a doll in her satin lined box.
A gift to the soil never to spoil.

© Natasha Sinclair