Going to Clare Island

We took the little ferry
from the mainland –
concrete jetty, portacabin, smell of fish –
out to the island. Wind, sun, rain –
we gazed out, hoping to see dolphins.
Not even mackerel, but the hot cries
of herring gulls followed us.

The boat slaps the water,
rocking like a horse –
it’s small and scruffy,
locals inside on plastic seats,
but we are tourists
standing up top, cameras ready,
feet apart, riding the motion,
watching for our destination.

There it is. There.

I’m hosting at dVerse tonight, and we are setting sail for a poetry voyage. Come and join us.

Sometimes I wish they hadn’t brought him back to me.

He’s a good husband, yes.

But still.
Sometimes, when he looks at me
I know my strong legs, my feet planted
in this red clay – they’re not enough.
My warm arms hold him,
like a cage of flesh. My hands burn.

I know he longs for something
he can’t hardly name – the pale flicker
of white fingers, never stained
with soil, or mucky from the fireplace,
the glimmering silvery gold
of hair left loose, swayed by the water.

Silence makes a dark pool in our house.

And when the tide turns,
and the wind is right,
and the sea calls him

I know he leaves me
with a happy heart.

De – Whimsygizmo – is hosting at dVerseand we’re looking at sirens, selkies and mermaids – the mysterious creatures of the water. You might also like this: https://soundcloud.com/b5m7/selkie – a lockdown project I did with my friend Dave Hope.

This stubborn place

This is a stubborn place, I’d say.
Old names live on here. Bits of wild
cling to steep hillsides, linger
in forgotten corners.

Three nights ago we saw a hare
lop-lollying along the ridges
in the maize field. I wonder
what she thinks of our machines,
our lines. We carve the landscape,
make divisions, demarcations.

Up on the hill, the farm name holds
the memory of a sacred grove.
Scrabbled scruffy stands of ash and oak
are still held sacred – never cut.
Our hedgerows are all tangled sanctuaries –
blackthorn, hazel, haw –
small creatures hiding, homing there.

Last night an owl swooped silent
across Nick and Jennie’s field,
clipping the long grass, almost.
We watched him scouting,
criss-crossing the scrubby corner
where the lane turns east.

Things are a little tatty here.
There’s space for nesting sparrows,
jackdaws crank call from the bottom barn,
and the rooks nest all along
the field’s top corner, and beyond.
You’ll see them march
across the slurried fields.
Leatherjackets, that’s what
they’re after, beaks plunged
in the smelly ground.

we’ll meet a deer, tip-toeing.
Wildness ebbs and flows –
a field left fallow,
a field ploughed,
an old hedge lost
to trees. A lane forgetting
it was ever paved.

We make accommodations here.
We let the nettles grow,
the brambles fling their skinny arms out.
We are not too fussy.
Well, we can’t afford to be –
you turn your back round here
and the wild slips back,
whispering old stories,
old secrets, trailing
old scents, remembering.

A poem for Brandon at Earthweal. I’m lucky to live in a rural backwater. I’ve been angry for a while now, at so many things happening in the world. I’ve given myself a break in this one, and indulged myself, revelling in the beauty of the world around me.

A shining moment.

I don’t often get thanks from people I’ve worked with – I think most of them are glad to be moving on – maybe I’m part of something they would like to forget. Three weeks ago, however, I was given flowers, and a card. I was stunned, and moved almost to tears. It was completely unexpected, a gift from a family I’ve worked with for years. The strange thing is, I wouldn’t say I’d made a whole lot of difference: I’ve advocated for them, pushed for a diagnosis that helped with educational planning, but other than that I’ve been mostly offering support and validation. I’m trained to make change, to make things better. I never felt I’d done enough for this family – never been good enough. Maybe that’s something I need to reflect on.

pink and white and blue
I place flowers in a vase
small buds unfurling

Lillian is hosting at dVerse tonight. She asks us to write a haibun about a “shining moment”, incorporating a traditional haiku.


One summer we collected caterpillars,
picked them, green and glistening,
off the cabbage leaves.

We kept them in a glass box
in the shed, and fed them
fat and slow
until they built themselves cocoons.

We left them then,
grey chrysalises, dry and dead,
forgot them over winter.
One morning, bright with spring,
I went into the shed
and found it full
of fragile, fluttering wings

so clear
so beautiful

we set them free.

A poem for Anmol’s last dVerse prompt. I’m sorry that this is his last one – his prompts have been challenging and creative, and I will miss them. As a final flourish, he asks us to write in the awareness that this is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the lgbtq+ community in all its shapes and forms. I’ve chosen to write about transformation, about finding freedom through that transformation. This is for anybody who has had to find themselves.

walking with the goddess

I’ve walked with the goddess, yes,
in these deep lanes. I’ve smelled
her dark scent – shit and honeysuckle –
felt her hush before the hare –

I’ve seen her dancing
in the desert eyes
of the man who showed me
where I saw

her hands on mine
planting gathering
feeding the good soil

her laughter in the
flicksilver darting of the fish
her rainbow tears

I’ve met her broad-hipped
by the slow river, easy,
seen her walk before me
in the bare rocky places
where life hides in cracks
and crevices

I am a thread
in her great cloak

a cell in her
warm body

so small
and so beloved

Sherry is hosting at Earthwealthis week, reminding us to sing love songs to Mother Earth – if we don’t love her, how can we save her?


If you can’t breathe

I don’t know much.

I do know this:

your hunger doesn’t fill me
your contentment doesn’t empty me
your fear doesn’t comfort me
your comfort doesn’t frighten me
your anger doesn’t still me
your stillness doesn’t make me angry
your pain doesn’t heal me
your health doesn’t sicken me
your weakness doesn’t strengthen me
your strength doesn’t weaken me
your song doesn’t silence me
your silence doesn’t make me sing
your ignorance doesn’t make me clever
your knowledge doesn’t make me ignorant

your loving doesn’t make me unloved

if you can’t breathe,
how can I?

For Grace at dVerse. The world’s a garden, not a pie.