Estera Ulrich-Oltean

United Kingdom

Why else, if not for love?

Message from Writer

The job of a writer is to challenge, to inspire and to spark hope. It is with one breath to affirm the reader and to place them in the uncomfortable position of having to face reality. We write to create, not to destroy. To offer wisdom, in whatever form that may take. But do we really write our stories, or do our stories write us?

Published Work

The Freefall

Have you ever hit the freefall?
You are walking down the road and suddenly
Your feet are the only thing keeping you moving

Your mind spins off in a million directions
Becoming aware of a million things
And all you once knew need proving

You wear nothing but pyjamas
And wander like Ophelia
Singing of flowers as your mind takes a deep dive
Into the Earth which you long/fear to return to

And your own garden is wild
Not dead exactly, nor healthy
There is so much growth that nothing can thrivee
No order, no gardener, no structure to turn to

The pressure of epiphany pounds on your brain
After this is over, what will remain?
Only the joy?  Only the pain?
Plath and madness in each vein
Waiting for the safe refrain
And then you reach terminal velocity

And everything melts away
In the eye of the hurricane
 

Ink for Blood

I was born with ink for blood
Words are stoppered up inside me
All at once out they flood
To cover me and hide me

The pen nestles in my hands
And thoughts flow through it from me
Men wrestle in the land
But their planes will never bomb me

For my life is not in flesh but mind
And when you cut me ink pours forth
Inky blackness unresigned
To float aimless, to miss true north

If you do not know where true north is
Not even my words can tell you
My words which bubble up and fizz
With life to condemn or compel you

Ink! with endless possibilities
Ink! which surges, rises, flows
Ink! the sum of my abilities
Ink! which all things honest knows

Ink! to shape however I wish
Ink! with which to move the mountains
Ink! for painting spires and fish
Ink! which wells from me in fountains

I wrote this down once before: ...

A Picture Perfect Moment

Crunching snow
Biting wind
Memories fading
Goose-flesh skinned

I walk down the road
And let the cold numb
I don't want to and yet
I want to succumb
My hat pulled tight around my ears
My scarf pulled tight around my fears

I lift one card from my pile
And push it through the letterbox
I could be on a postcard then
With the rabbit and reindeer and the fox
A picture perfect moment - gone
And I must strive to remember
The sun ever shone

Pounds of Meat

They run their hands over us like so many pounds of meat
I feel so dirty
And I feel...
Dreadfully guilty
As they brush my shoulders scraps of dignity fall away like dandruff...
Their touch is icy fire in my veins...
My breath is snatched...
Cries of protest and fear mingle and lodge in my throat...
I tremble...
They move on...
But their gazes linger and everything has changed.

Winter Has Come

Winter has come and coats the branches
A dusting of white to speed me on my way
The cold sets in and I don't like my chances
Of keeping warm throughout this Friday

It's the day to snuggle in bed with a book
Wrap my hands around a mug of hot chocolate
Feel it froth by my lips and enjoy the look
Of brown half-moons curling from my palate

So why am I writing when I could be doing that?

Perhaps Forever

I suppose this is goodbye then
Perhaps for now, perhaps forever
I am not going to cry then
Though I don't know if I'll return here ever

You were my home for just a few months
But the most faithful friend I had in that time
I'd like to come back here at least once
And cosy up in this room sublime

Who knows if I'll ever come back again
Or find another quite like you?
Amidst the mountains you were my glen
The hidey-hole I could retreat to

If I come back to a different room
What, my friend, will become of you?
Will you be left like an open tomb:
Alone, abandoned, overgrown with bamboo?

Who can say?  Who can tell?
With this poem, I bid you farewell.

All Boxed Up

I spent the day putting the last 9 weeks into boxes
Packing away the memories, the souvenirs, all into boxes
A flyer, some socks, an unused hand-cream
Each one tells the story of an untold dream

Those trainers have paint on from my shift at the theatre
That card was the first in my pigeon hole
I wore that dress to matriculation
All the meals I ate out of that bowl

Mugs for the guests I thought I'd entertain
Drugs and plasters to kill my pain
A note from the first firm friend I met
A memento of a day I'd rather forget

Here's a towel I dropped at the sight of a spider
And the pin I couldn't pull out of the board
There's the first book I bought in this city
And the missive I never sent to my landlord

So there are my memories all boxed up
From this little notebook to that little cup

It was just a walk in the woods

It was just a walk
A walk in the woods
We started to talk
To talk in the woods

We two were alone
Alone on the path
His torchlight shone
Shone on the path

He almost stumbled
Stumbled into the marsh
I am sure that I fumbled
Fumbled by the marsh

We crossed a park
A park I durst not cross alone
We crossed in the dark
The park I durst not cross alone

He seemed genuine and nice
Nice as he talked
I wish I'd had advice
Advice as we talked

I didn't even tell him
Tell him my name
I didn't even tell him
Tell him name

Sonnet

A sea of red as vast as any sea
Snow white doth frame the picture-perfect box
Each door hides a morsel of mystery
Like that found by the three kings and the ox.
Door number one is found right at the top
Its gold-embossed letter signposts the snack
The perforations open with a pop
As cardboard crackles and is peeled back.
The first taste brushes past your open lips
Then creams and chocolate melt upon your tongue
All else is lost in this sweet sweet eclipse
And by this kiss you'll stay forever young.
Now one is gone just twenty-three remain
But next year all will come to you again.

I Lost it in the Afternoon

Most people lose it at night in a club or bedroom or hotel
At least they do in books
Most people lose it in the dark and it's all romantic
I lost it in the afternoon

Most people lose it in a fit of passion, a moment of spontaneity
Trapped in a spell by their looks
Most people lose it in private in an intimate setting
I lost it in school in the afternoon

Most people find it slightly awkward but enjoy it nonetheless
Exploring each other's crannies and nooks
Most people don't wish they were somewhere else entirely
I would rather have been kissing an oxygen mask on the moon

Maybe I'm wrong and most people are like me nowadays
And it's clinical, one-sided, a chore
But most people can't live like that really, can they?
I lost it and my dignity in the afternoon

Most people want to try again as soon as possible
Most people are moaning...

November 9th

Ornate curls encrusted the heavy wooden chest in a myriad of surprising colours.  Traditional golds lay alongside pinks and purples set into the rich browns of the splintered canvas.  I ran my fingers along the chiselled edges, my breath quivering in anticipation.  Cupping the mahogany feet in my hands, I sat, cradling with excitement this font of possibilities.  Though somewhat faded, the lip of the box still attained to that gold lustre which glimmers so temptingly in the light.  I ran my thumb along the ridge bellow the lid and stopped at the central clasp.  Age had not dulled its efficiency and so it took little physical force to flip open, though some will power was required to overcome my trepidation lest the mysteries the box contained should become less wonderful once brought to light.  The pivotal action took only a moment; I flicked open the lid of the chest.  I was in.

November 8th

Shame on you if you love him
Shame on you if you don't
Shame on you if you cannot win
Though the game's set up so you won't.

November 7th

The glassy lake
The mountain pass
The wooded ground
The hut in the grass

A picture of tranquillity
Serenity
Beauty
Peace
A picture of joys waiting to happen

You can just imagine the smoke rising from the chimney
And the snow stretching for miles around
You can picture the flowers blooming in summer
You can see the lake swell as the spring comes round

Can you hear the laughter?
Can you smell the stories?
Can you taste the fresh air?
Can you touch the morning glories?

It is the calm before the storm.

November 6th

The air was was heavy and humid.  The station was packed.  The girl's clammy hand held her mother's as they stood and waited.  Neither spoke.  Sometimes words just aren't enough.  The girl's other hand clutched her suitcase, the gas mask slung over her shoulder digging into her lower arm.  She stared down at her black freshly polished school shoes; they pinched her feet but she did not heed this; the pain had become familiar.  Slipping her hand out of her mother's, the girl loosened the scarf around her neck and rolled her head.
"I thought it would've been colder," her mother said.  "Sorry."
"It's all these people.  I didn't expect it to be this busy."
"Everyone's going; there'll be no one left here for you to miss."
"No one except you," the girl said quietly, looking at her mum for the first time since they had arrived at the station.
"You'll forget about me soon enough when you've got all...

November 5th

Two strangers stand side by side, masks obscuring their features.  They exchange a glance then look away as they wait for whoever's in charge to show up.  The difference is that while one looks away down the other looks away up and around and after a few moments notices the other's downcastness.
"Hey, are you alright?" the one asks.
"What?  Oh, yeah, I'm fine," the other says.
"Sure.  What's up?"
"It's just been tough.  I haven't been sleeping too well lately and this whole lockdown thing makes it pretty hard to make friends and all that.  It's probably always like this though.  You're always gonna miss home aren't you?"
"Yeah totally.  Lockdown makes everything harder though.  It's a pretty rubbish situation to be honest."
The other looked up for the first time since speaking and gave a rueful smile.
"Hey, do you wanna hang out after this or something?  Just for a chat," the first speaker said, adding the last...

November 4th

Thick smog
Acid and salt
A choking feeling
I start to gag
My heart's needle swings to and fro

Where do I go?
What do I do?
How do I live
Without you?

I can't quite focus
I turn the brightness up and it's blinding
Down and I can't
See

I breathe just like they taught me but it doesn't seem to help
I breathe
I breathe
I crumple in on myself

I've lost the map and
Mist fills my eyes and
I'm floating into a trap and
I'm oppressed by

The skies
Their openness scares me
There is so much potential
Too much potential
No boundaries or limitations to keep me safe

Don't wrap me up!
I need my freedom!
You've tied me too tight -
I can't quite breathe

Catch me
I'm falling
Help me
I'm failing
See me
I'm fading
Save me
I'm...

November 3rd

I spy with my little eye something beginning with L.  It is the culmination of truth and beauty and freedom.  It is the ultimate sacrifice.  It is passion so great it cannot be contained.  Do you see it?

I spy with my little eye something beginning with L.  Sunshine and laughter and hope abound in it.  Sympathy, tenderness, friendliness, gentleness.  Trust and compassion and reckless striving.  Do you see it?

I spy with my little eye something beginning with L.  I see it most in the children playing on the street.  The elderly couple you know have been in it for the long haul.  I rarely see it on a first date because it grows and matures with time to unfathomable proportions.  Do you see it?

I spy with my little eye something beginning with L.  It began with seed which grew to a bud which has now blossomed into a glorious flower; I will not say which one for...

November 2nd

I think hear a knocking at the door.  I wait.  I hear nothing.  I resume my work and brush the incident off.  Just as I set pen to paper, I hear the knock again.  I stop and strain my ears.  Getting up, I cross to the door and lean my ear against it: nothing.  I sigh and shake myself; it's been a long day.  My task must be finished today and midnight is fast approaching.  I return once more to my work.
When I hear the knocking for a third time, I get up again and place my hand on the door handle.  After counting to sixty in silence I push down and stick my head out.  I seize the opportunity to grab a mug of hot chocolate from the kitchen.  Upon returning to my room, I wrap a scarf around my head and get back to work.  I cannot focus.
Not five minutes later, I hear the incessant knocking...

October 31st

It's hard to be a creative.  A writer, painter, poet, singer, actor, musician, artist, any of them.  It's hard to be a creative.

Because when you create, you take a piece of your soul and you lay it bare for all to see.  When you create, you open up a part of yourself to the public and you invite the world to criticise it.  When you create go to your most vulnerable place and offer yourself up to the world in the hope that what you share might help them, comfort them, or challenge them somehow.  When you create, you give people an escape, inviting them out of their life and enter yours.

So it's hard to be a creative.  Because there is no art without truth.  And truth can be really really painful.

It's hard to be a creative.  And I admire you all.

October 30th

The raven himself is hoarse.  It's been a long day.  It's been a long few weeks actually.  His parents never warned him about this part.  When pickings were scarce, he had longed for a war.  When there was a war, or even a battle, he was told, he could feast for days on end; he could become a real glutton.  The thing is, though, that corpses don't even taste that good - even the fresh ones.  And his throat is getting sore from calling its fateful nell, summoning soldiers to heaven or hell.  The raven doesn't care what side they're on; he just wishes they'd give him a break.  To make matters worse, he's on his own now.  His parents had been caught in the crossfire yesterday while foraging for food to feed his brothers and sisters.  Who hadn't survived a night without their parents.  So the raven is alone, craving an end to all the death and destruction.  And...

October 29th

I just want to go to bed.  I just want to drift off into the blissful oblivion of sleep.  My body is weary and shakes from the bitter cold; nobody else seems to feel the cold.  I'm all wrapped up in a hoodie and scarf but it's not enough.  My eyes are strained and tired.  A dull ache lives in my head.  Pain knocks on my stomach.  I try not to let it in but it forces down the door.

The glaring light of the screen numbs my eyes.  The sound of feedback ricochets in my ears.  My body draws together defensively; I cling tight to my teddy; I shut my eyes.  Nothing helps.

I try drinking water, swigging from my bottle like some drunkard at a bar.  I try raising my blood sugar with a treat from the fridge.  I try taking painkillers to drown out the agony.

My eyelids are heavy, clearly I haven't slept enough.  Tears well...

October 28th

Purple, pink, orange, green
A kaleidoscope of colours
From my window these are seen
Silks and jewels and swords

Red curtains pulled tight across windows
Behind which sleeping women lie
A cleaner going about her business
Birds twittering in the sky

A man - yes, a man! - tends the garden
And I only hope he won't see me stare
If he does I'll beg his pardon
Then resume my work and casual survey

There's the running girl again!
She always flits in such a hurry
Where does she come from before all this?
London?  Yorkshire?  Europe?  Surrey?

Rain has washed the benches clean and
Rain has left a shiny sheen
Rain has overthrown the queen
Rain - wait, what does that even mean?

I see the pebbles
I see red bricks
I see the garden
I see girls' tricks
I see someone coming
Are they here to see me?
I see all the colours
From here, I see.

The...

October 27th

The harvest is plentiful but for whom?
Who benefits from this boundless bounty?
Children in school sing 'Harvest Praise!'
While those on the street number their days

The field is ahaze with a golden glow
The crops stand tall, ripe for the felling
Fields of wheat and barley and of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in an oven-ready pie

Brussel sprouts, pumpkins, apples, arugula
Pair them with nutmeg, cinnamon spice
The aromas of autumn fill the air
Mocking those still waiting for their share

Crop plantation is a year-round business
Though we remember it just at the end
They sow in blood and sweat and tears
They reap in pain and fall to sneers.

October 26th

Autumn is a girl.  She has brown wavy hair wreathed in flowers and berries.  Her feet are bare yet they still make that delightful crunching sound as she walks down a red carpet of leaves.  Her clothes billow around her in the wind; the wind moves with her.  Autumn is like a breath, the touch of death which strips the trees of their leafy hangings and leaves them naked when Winter arrives.  She is the definition of beauty in the chaos and her seductive whisper is irresistible.  She is soft yet powerful.

Autumn is a colour.  It is that perfect blend of red and yellow and gold and orange.  Ochre and umber and sienna.  Like a watercolour painting of fire or a mobile, shimmering sunset.  It has a life of its own; it is a blanket which covers everything.

Autumn is a place.  It lives in your heart all through the year.  In summer, you eagerly await its fresh breeze;...

October 25th

She wrapped her arms around his waist and he looked back at her.
"Ready?" he asked with a grin.
"Ready," she said with an unconvincing smile.
The boy pushed off from the ground and they were on their way, he whooping and she clinging tightly to him as the wind ripped through her hair.  She buried her head in his shoulder.  He threw back his head in a laugh and would have knocked into her had her head been in an upright position.
"How do you like your first bike-ride?" he called back to her.
"It's terrifying," she said.  "How do you control it?"
"You just let loose.  Trust the wind and your momentum.  It helps to lean forward."  Saying this, the boy leaned and the girl pressed her body against his.  The wind still whistled past her but it did not feel quite so like an attack any more.  More like the whole world was rushing past her.  The...

Lark

Lazily, I gaze out of the window with a somewhat glazed look.  I don't know what I'm waiting for.  I don't know why I'm waiting.  I just know that I'm not ready yet.  Something catches my eye: a lark alighting briefly on a branch.  Then it's gone again.  For some inexplicable reason, I wish it would come back.  It does.  Funny.  Maybe something is out there listening in on our thoughts.

I look at the lark's shimmering body, its fur so perfectly sleek and I envy it.  It almost seems to glow.  I'm being ridiculous.  Still.  I open the window and music fills the room.  The lark is singing and the song is redemption, hope, full of life.  I want it never to end that I might live forever in the thrall of that voice.  When the final trill expires and the lark flies away, I lower my eyes, saddened momentarily by its absence, and close the window.  But something...