Life writing & poetry

Louisa K Aspden, KL Aspden, author, writer, anxiety, anger, children’s self-help books, trauma, overwhelmed, lonelinessREUNION

inspired by Love After Love by Derek Walcott


You will love again

the stranger who was yourself, that girl

barred at the church door

for growing into her own image,


the one who reflected the sun

who is the shape of seeds and stars

that die and live and die again

into fruit, or in their dying light the sky.


You will love again the weak, weak neck,

that cannot hold up its own head

that flops against your shoulder

like a baby.


You will love again the one who thought

she could never take this one step

in front of her, who only believed

in falling.


You will love the child

that banged the piano keys

whose anger could have broken a house,

whose parents did not hear.


You will love the twelve-year-old

who hid herself so carefully,

for fear of being put out

into the cold, dark yard.


You will love and respect her

for keeping her jewels private

until she could lift her head enough

to wear them round her neck.


You will love that twenty- something

who felt her life was over

before it began.  You will open up a door for her

into a new meadow.


That diligent one

will find rest in imperfection.

You do not even need to forgive her

for trying too hard.


She can come as she is.  You will bring her home

to the community

where reality is spoken out loud,

where secrets are not necessary.


 © K L Aspden


About this poem

I used Derek Walcott’s piece, Love After Love, and revisited myself at earlier ages.


Find a poem you love and take a line than inspires you as a starting point.

You could try writing a piece that begins: “You will love again – that stranger who was yourself”. 

Or simply write a letter to yourself at a younger age. 




My feet are dangling from the itchy seat.  I’m looking down at my new shoes – they’re black with buckles and a flowery pattern made of dots.  The trolley bus jerks to a stop near the school gates and all the children tumble out.  I climb down the big steps with my satchel bumping behind me.

My brother drags me by the hand. Mum told him to look after me.

“Stand in that line over there with the baby class,” he says, pointing.

I wait behind Peter Plunket until the whistle blows.  My teacher, Miss Wellborn has a soft smile. She says Class 1A can come into the classroom.

I’ve been in this class for one and a half weeks now and I haven’t seen one single baby!  There are dolls in the play corner, but I’ve got dolls at home and it’s not the same.  I like real babies, especially girl ones. I have been practising at home on Sooty and Blondie. Maybe Miss Wellborn will tell us when we get to meet them, and maybe she will choose me to be her special monitor to help feed them and pat their backs to help them burp.

My tummy always hurts in the morning.  But Mum still sends me to school. She’ll get put into prison if I don’t go. Once I asked her if Grandma could cook my dinner when she was in jail, and she just laughed.

My desk smells of wood and has a hole in the corner. I stroke it with the palm of my hand trying to smooth out the marks scratched on the top, and the lumpy bits where children have spilt glue. Miss Wellborn says the hole is an ink well but I don’t know what one is.  She’s nice. Her hair is long and swishy and she has a pony tail like Lesley Harris.   She always looks smart with her woolly skirt and her snuggly cardigan that feels like a lamb. She smells soapy like Auntie Eileen. I sink into her lap when she cuddles me – because nearly every day I am crying.

Miss Wellborn is so clever at drawing.  She makes beautiful pictures on the blackboard with coloured chalk and we copy them into our books.  On Friday she drew a garden.  There were pink poppy flowers and daffodils, and trees with squirrels in.  There was even a rabbit, and birds sitting on a bird table.

I liked it a lot.

Only as soon as I saw it, I felt sick.  My hands started getting sticky and I couldn’t hold my crayon properly.  Tears came out of me like waterfalls and I couldn’t stop them.

Before I started school I could only scribble. Mum scowled at my pictures and told Dad she thought I was backward.

Everyone is sitting at their desks and Miss Wellborn asks us to get our special books out.  I lift up the lid. I can smell furniture polish and it feels safe. I wish I could hide behind here for a very long time.  At least until home time.

There’s a sound of chalk carefully making its marks and I know what is happening out there. Everything feels tight and knobbly inside me. Like the knots my brother is learning in Cubs.  And I can’t get them undone.

I know I can’t stay here. I nibble at my fingers for a while before I put the lid down. Something has already appeared on the blackboard.

I grab a wax crayon and start to make a shape on the page. It’s a fat yellow crayon.  I’m drawing an egg with it. I will colour the egg cup blue and put hearts on it. Then I will show Miss Wellborn. She won’t need to say ‘let’s get your handkerchief’.  I won’t be sniffing or dabbing at my eyes. Her smile will be as big as the sun that Julie Dixon put in her sky on Monday, with bright rays bursting out of it and going all over the page. Miss Wellborn will say “well done!” and hold up my book to show everyone. They will all clap, and in my mind, they will be waving flags and cheering.  Afterwards we will have chocolate teacakes with our milk.

© K L Aspden



Think of a situation from childhood and do a free write in a ‘child voice’.

You could try writing in the present tense.

Or maybe write in the third person.  (Stepping away from ourselves can often allow for greater self-compassion). 




This poem will not straighten up your life

or change the terrible forecast for the weekend.

It will not tidy up after you, plump up your cushions,

neaten the throw where you’ve been sitting.

This is a poem for now, to help you feel what needs to be felt

that thing you have been avoiding for three long days.


This poem cannot give you energy when your body needs to rest.

It cannot get off the sofa to fetch you a glass of water,

no matter how thirsty you are. It won’t make your bed,

carry you upstairs in its arms

or bring you hot chocolate.

It doesn’t wish to be your carer


or that someone you long for. This poem

has its own needs – pesters you, nudging your elbow

when you’re writing.

This poem is in charge of its own destiny,

has its own agenda, wants a conversation

about not running away.


I wrote this inspired by a brilliant peice by Anne Haines:  What this poem will do.’



Why not do a free write around the idea of ‘terms and conditions’?  You could pick an object as a focus, for example, something random like – the terms and conditions of an apple! O a theme such as  – the terms and conditions of an illness or a particular memory. Get your creative juices flowing and see what happens!

If you’d like to share your responses to these poems, please complete the form on the contact page here.