And then there’s death warmed up by Tess Sheridan Adams

You know, there’s no bird on my bough, but I can hear them before I see them.

The children.

A crush of voices waking the dead with their din of decibels, bedevilling my sanity sitting here willing those lights to change, car windows closed and, by God the clatter is blattering through me, like rain flushing peppy pebbles down a drain. And will you look here: a lad of seven or eight trying to scale the gate, his peers jeering him on, and see over there: three wee girls in matching T’s huddled together as birds on a bough, and the lone boy sitting on a bench playing with absence by the broken wall. All these wee souls with futures spun out for them like spiders’ webs; they will fall into them one day. And I am wondering how many before they reach their teens, how many more before 20?  How many?  How…. Hah! By God, how skewed is your thinking when you lose one?


Where is my lost one?


Do you think maybe God was a woman? After all, it takes extra ordinary skill to be so blooming creative, and its true that people who’ve returned from the dead talk about near death experiences. They tell of bright lights at the end of a long tunnel, literally bumping into past loved ones, security, warmth. Basically all singing all dancing delights. Well, it wasn’t like that for me at all. Not one bit of it.

I got as far as the door – that’s as far as I got. God opened it just a tad but wide enough for her toe to act as a doorstop.

Well, what brings you here, woman?

I wasn’t afraid. Not I. I had all my qualifications with me.

What brings me here? Well my daughter for a start.

She’s a flower girl, she beamed, we need her here to paint our rainbows, turn on your shower hose, nurture your blooms. After all there’d be no flowers without a little rain. But you, pointing her pinkie my way, you’ve got unfinished business down there. Why you’ve still got that life writing project to complete and anyway... she continued.

But I didn’t let her finish:

And then there’s my heart, it’s stopped. Dead. And there’s this river of blood flowing like a tsunami down there – 50 litres of your lovely creations’ donations. My womb’s in fragments, my brain’s frazzled, my bladder is leaking like your clouds down there. Sure, I’m as good as dead.

Nonsense, said the Grand Old Dame, I’ve never seen a soul more alive in my life.

Dear God you’re not listening to me, I whined, I could be very useful to you up here. I have a cunning plan: Seamus Heaney’s descendants may be blood donors. Shakespeare’s too. I mean chances are with so much of the stuff being pumped through me, I’ll have acquired a few drops from the Bard himself, albeit a bit diluted. Why I could regale you from a great height, spout poetry day and night.

And I gave her a rendition:

Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood

At last, I could see the lady was turning.

Listen, I continued – for I was very determined – I could dish havoc from up here, shower due desserts on those negligent doctors.

Upon my word, God thundered, Shakespeare expel that woman, press the reject key. She’s still alive.

God said that and, you know, she actually had the audacity to shut the door in my face. And then she barred the windows too.


So No Baby Shower.

Ah, It’s a girl! he says, and he’s doing it again, that jig with his nose, that bunny scrunch that’s so totally him. Or, it could be boy. Conspirators, we laugh at the wonder of it, at the sheer stupidity of our happiness. That thing that happens every day all over the world is happening to us. Right here. Right now. And it’s a miracle, our baby’s a miracle, life’s a miracle. He rests his tanned hand on my pale little belly and the contrast is breath stealing.

Dark and light

Day and night

Life and


We cast aside Ivy, the Violets and Daisies, Ferns, the Laurels, Lilies and Roses, the Heathers, Hazels and Hollies, the Poppies, Petals and posies of names, cast them all away, settled for love, yes we picked love

Love, translated Amy.

And when she was late we plucked daffodils to welcome her, scattered buds around the nursery. He even tucked one under her mantle – for the scent, he said, and laughed.

It’ll wither, Die, I said, but I left it just the same.

We ran hot baths awash with fragrant petals – they said she’d like that. We roamed Kew Gardens, ate cherries watched new heads appear above the loam, and in the end

Yes, in the end

When we kissed the rosebud lips that never uttered a single sound. When her perfectly formed half moon nails shone like white lilies. We showered her with teardrop sprays




I AM  in. And I am out.

In and out      of life

and there he is – the daughterless father, with enough breath for us both, standing by my bedside strumming his guitar, gently humming, swaddling me with his vibrational shower, and I swear I’m only living now because he wouldn’t let me go. Its like I’m fading away and he’s calling me back and I’m falling, floating off, flying the distance, and just when I’m reaching the edge, his notes – a warm woolly mantle – wrap themselves around me, carry me back to him, to my sons, to all that is waiting with stilled breath for me to return. And I do. I return

I return

Because he needs me,

Because my sons need me.


Because my daughter does not


Now here’s a thing. The day after we lost our daughter and I wasn’t expected to live either, the Consultant said to the grief-stricken father:

The devil came into the room last night.

Not the most tactful thing to say to a ruptured non-parent.

What we didn’t know at the time was that our daughter’s death was due to that Consultant’s negligence. He pumped me with a lethal dose of Oxytocin, which made my womb rupture. Clearly, it was easier for him to blame the devil.

The thing is, he repeated the words to me when I fuddled out of my coma,

10 days later.

The devil came into the room last night.


Step into my shoes for a moment…






Hell’s Kitchen

Hey Reaper, what’s on the Menu?

Why Madam, We have a hell of feast from our flame grill today.

Our Chef Lucifer’s been out gathering juicy bones.

We even have some burnt offerings:

How about some smashed and battered little hearts to start?


And, then there’s a choice of main’s today, Madam:


Death the careless way, death by delay, death by lethal cocktail

death by toxic concoction, death by more than a trifle of Oxytocin

death by Diablo, death by dead loss, death by an unholy mess

death by avoidance, death by an almighty flaming fuck-up

death by devil’s searing bombe served in a heavy bombshell

death by ranting, death by desperately wanting, death in a red sea,

death in a salt sea, death in a dead sea, death by no due diligence,

death by severance, death by negligence .


And the House Specialty?   Death by Birth.


Oh, and the dessert menu never changes

there’s always room for a little after dinner can of worms

though the Angel’s delight is off.


So, we have: death by rocky road, death by squashed smarties,

death by fallen angel cake, served with dastardly custard.

Or we can deal you a real treat from the dungeon?

Death by a hell of a hell of a lot of melon-cholia flambé

spread thickly with a huge dollop of bitter, bitter glum.


There I was, slipping down, down, deeper.

I sought some counselling. Found a Therapist and Lord help her;

I proceeded to project all my misplaced anger onto her.


She used to just sit there, say nothing, play with her pen.

Only when she’d plied the spur of silence, did she open her mouth.


 Mad Pupil

I would love to lift my Therapist’s pen, that fountainhead of in-sight

with nib that pokes my itch, jab it into her sharp eye,

hoke around in there a good bit

in all the filth and shit that’s Reflected.


And, by God, I’ll scratch her fat pupil with toxic ink,

clef words like hell and burn and stink.  And holding space.

Wipe that concerned gawk off her face for just a wink.

Then, I won’t need to cry


So, she says, you’re finally eyeballing your misplaced anger.

She doesn’t even blink.