About sarahsouthwest

I'm now in my early 50s. I started writing again as a way of exploring the world, and feel that over the last 2 years I have really grown as a writer. By day I work with children and young people with mental health difficulties. I juggle my own two children, my work, my writing practice, generally managing to keep all the balls up in the air.

The poet spells her name

I spell my name with an S –
a stream slipping between
banks of sun-dried summer grass –
an apple-cheeked a, arms open,
adorable. An r is a broken
arch of rambling roses,
red petals, russet rosehips.
The second a is ample,
and the h is the tail-end
of a long-held sigh.

A quadrille for Sanaa at dVerse.

The long light of a June evening.

We came here when the sky was bright
and watched the sun sink into fire and flames
and hesitated. The tide went out, time slowed,
until the moon rose. Look, we said, a road
rippling and silvering the waves.
and that one star, and the half-light.

A sestain for Merril’s ekphrastic prompt at dVerse. I’m writing to Peder Severin Krøyer, Summer Evening at Skagen. The Artist’s Wife and Dog by the Shore

/

We don’t hear. We don’t listen.

If every leaf were a prayer,
the world would sound
like a rustling of praise –
a fierce, joyful rustling –

the wind would spill love
from every tree –
love would grow new
every spring.

Each tree would be
a book, a tome,
reminding us of how

this mothering earth
nurtures us all.

The fields would murmur
the story of life,
the hedgerows would blossom
in psalms and ragas, chants –

the sky would be full of music,
words of praise would float
down every stream
down every river

we would be nourished
by words of love

a poem for Sherry at earthweal

These are the things they don’t tell us – prosery for dVerse.

These are the things they don’t tell us:

  • Where we’re going.
  • How long the journey is
  • What we’ll do when we get there

They tell us why we’re being sent. We are misfits, troublemakers, boat-rockers. We are not wanted here. We’re not criminals – oh no – and this is not punishment. This is opportunity.

Gossip, of course, is rampant. One group thinks we’re being trained for extreme cold. One groups thinks we’re being fed birth control pills. Pink haired Jaine thinks we’re going to be saving the planet.

Me? I listen. I watch. I notice who gets the best seat, who takes the first potato, who takes the last slice of cake. Who glances at their neighbour. Who laughs too much. Because I don’t know where we’re going, but I do know that when we get there, I’m going to survive. I’m going to thrive.

A 144 word flash fiction for Jade at dVerse. Prosery is a dVerse form – 144 words including a quotation from a poem. Today, the quotation is “These are the things they don’t tell us” and the poem is “Notes on Uvalde” by Girl du Jour. You can read the poem in full in Jade’s dVerse prompt. It’s immensely powerful and very moving.

Read me

go on, then

browse me

flick your fingers through
my paper soul – underline
keywords – love lust hate

bookmark my memories

step from one image
to the next, unroll
a narrative

highlight the highlights
erase

bookmark my thoughts
write “yes, this!” in the margin
circle a pearl of wisdom

scrawl your name

A quadrille for dVerse.

Green Deserts

My Dad remembers fields
like tapestries, embroidered
with wild flowers.
He remembers golds and pinks,
purples and blues; and butterflies
and hovering bees –
the humming meadows.

Here, there are green deserts –
cut and sprayed and ploughed
and planted every year –
rye grass, bright green and lush
and dead. Wild flowers banished
to the hedgerows – bees following
the paths we follow, skirting the fields.

My Dad remembers cuckoos,
corn buntings, tree sparrows,
turtle doves. These green deserts
are almost silent. Only the rooks,
patrolling, and the winter fieldfare.

My Dad remembers hares hiding
in the long grass of the meadows;
deer stepping dainty in the twilight,
a kestrel quartering the field.
These green deserts are still,
only the wind blowing through
the lifeless grass, and the rain falling.

I’m lucky to live in a rural area where we have lush hedgerows and neglected patches of woodland. However, even here farming practices are not ideal for the environment. We visited a local garden today where they have re-created wildflower meadows. Last time I visited with my Dad he told me that was how fields were when he was young – I hadn’t realised it was so recently that we lost our traditional meadows. This is for earthweal, where we’re thinking about extremes. The uniform green fields around here ARE extreme – a massive change within living memory.

A taste of summer

I just bought my first strawberries of the season. They smell so good. On the way home, in the warm car, I held them on my lap while my husband drove. The car filled up with that sweet strawberry scent.

We grow a few strawberries – little wild ones that self-seed round the garden – looking for them feels like a treasure hunt – and bigger ones that are lost to wildlife half the time. They’re all still white petalled flowers at the moment – not even tiny, hard, green fruit. The berries I bought were grown in a greenhouse in Herefordshire – small, artificial summers. Today, I don’t care. We’ll eat them with cream and a sprinkling of sugar, and we’ll know that summer is just around the corner. We’re teetering on the edge of it, ready to fall.

sunshine
the dancing of bees
ripening fruit

A haibun for Frank at dVerse. We’re considering summer…

Poets love to write about the moon.

Give me the moon, the silver moon,
light my way with a silver light –
let me feast on slivers of silvery cake,
on silver crescents of silver lemons,
floating in silver cups, on a silver tray.
This morning, she burned everything –
armfuls of dandelions and buttercups,
bundles of letters, piles of clothes.
She laughed, and told me she loves the sun –
burn everything, she says, burn my poems –
they’ll warm the world. Burn everything, then,
but leave me this cool garden, purpled
with twilight, a stream of silver winding
like thread. Leave me a statue, a star;
fish me a silver coin from the well,
fish a white pebble from the river,
pick a white lily from the lake,
and give me the moon.

Lillian is hosting at dVerse tonight, and we’re compounding – or, rather, de-compounding. There are 3 compound words taken apart in here – moonlight, sunburn and starfish.

Waking in a strange room

Maybe it’s that moment
when you wake from sleep
and the world is suddenly strange –
glistening with
noises that shimmer at the edge of sight –
heavy with light that presses on your skin –
the smell of sunshine, lemons, clockwork –
that moment is the one
that really matters,
that changes everything

I’m hosting for Quadrille Monday at dVerse tonight – and our word is “sleep”. But I kind of had to subvert my own prompt! Come and join us, anyway. Quadrilling is fun.

The ash trees

The ash are late this year –
bundles of sticks, rattling up
into the blue sky. We search
for feathery tufts. Sometimes
we see them, sometimes

nothing.

I’ve never known the ash so late,
dark lines scraped across
a billowing, pillowing world of green.

They’re dying. I hadn’t thought
that this would come so quickly –
imagined a slow drift of ghosts
across the landscape –
when I thought of it at all –
not these monuments, scattered,
solid, sharp-edged. No, not this
memento mori, these bone branches
shouting “look at me, look at me”.

Nature will fill in the gaps, and
we’ll forget the avenue of chestnut trees,
the stand of larch, the ash, the ash, the ash,
the tree that holds the world,
the tree where gods hang, waiting for wisdom.

for Brendan at earthweal. It’s full on spring here, getting ready for summer, and the ash trees are still not out. It’s very strange. Ash die-back is here, stalking our copses, and I can’t help feeling that the landscape is undergoing a radical change. It’s a small thing, and yet, it’s a big thing. The canary in the mineshaft, maybe? Ash trees are a defining part of our Devon landscape. I can list a dozen ash placenames off the top of my head.