UNCHARTED: Lizz Clarke

The billowing black sail flaps around us. Grief emblazoned upon it.

Some days the sail is full of memories and pain and I struggle to navigate these uncharted waters. Pulling wildly at the edges, I have no control, my ship threatens to capsize.

My crew are young and learning to try and harness this sail for themselves. Some days they are dangerously high in the rigging, fighting with one arm to regain control. Trying to repair the fixtures that have been pulled loose, ripped from the mast in this storm.

Other days, they refuse to come above decks and I am torn between trying to right the course of this ship, to make headway towards safer waters or holding them close, keeping them safe, soothing them with words that the storm will pass.

I am not used to navigating these waters alone and I howl my anger into the wind, but it has nowhere to land.

At other times, I breathe deeply from the fresh air and tantalising call of the future. Rest and relief bolster my wellbeing. I am alive. We have a new course to follow, as yet uncharted. There is strength and vigour in my actions. They are all my actions now. All my decisions to make, all my responsibilities. Terrifying and exhilarating simultaneously.

The ring of firsts circle us like sharks, will this be the one that makes us fall overboard? Birthdays, anniversaries, old places explored with new hearts.

The misplaced joke or social event that tears at the delicate film protecting this new born life.

From minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day the winds swing, controlling our ship with their will.

We navigate as best we can, trusting that this is all temporary.

That our ship will hold.

And that our loved ones will provide us with safe harbour when we are unable to navigate alone.

© Lizz Clarke 2021

Freo-based writer Lizz Clarke is best known for her messy hair, noisy children and nothing to do with writing. Which, much like her hair, refuses to be neatly contained. Her aim is to write something she feels proud to release to the wild. She is currently working on two junior fiction books that take a humorous look at grief and anxiety.

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