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.

I haven’t seen spring, but… – for dVerse

Spring’s a kid
in a bright green hoodie,
yellow spray paint, and purple,
pink and green and white –
tagging everything in sight,
blasting birdsong at top volume,
running, laughing,
scattering shoots and leaves
and petals, dancing
through the rain.

Over at dVerse, Jilly asks us to write a poem about something invisible but real – love, maybe, or a child’s imagination, or springtime…

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Ginkgo – haibun for dVerse

Whenever I see a Ginkgo tree, I think of Hiroshima. Six trees were growing near the epicentre of the blast, and all survived, and continued to grow, apparently undamaged. One grows in the graveyard in our local small town. The branches spread over a path that cuts from the main road to the town square. That path has been there for hundreds of years – I imagine the town has grown around it. It seems fitting that the Temple Tree has been planted so close to a church. I don’t know how long the Ginkgo has been there, but in the spring the leaves are like small green fans, and in the autumn they glow bright yellow. I can rarely resist picking up one of the fallen leaves, so unlike any other.

This is the most ancient tree of all, and yet it is reborn every spring. It’s a symbol of hope, and of the resilience of nature, thrusting down roots, pushing out leaves, changing with the seasons.

gold leaves in autumn-
winter branches bleak and bare –
green leaves in springtime

 

It’s haibun night at dVerse, and Frank is hosting. It’s also Hiroshima Day, and Frank asks us to remember the horror of the bombing there in our haibun. I’ve chosen to talk about the Ginkgo, a symbol of hope. You can read more about the Ginkgo here: https://kwanten.home.xs4all.nl/index.htm

That time between summer and autumn

The blackberries have ripened while my back was turned –
like a child growing in fits and starts, suddenly
taller than the lamp in the corner – bursting out of his clothes –
and the apples are swelling. There’s a tree that I pass by each day
that’s suddenly covered in fruit.

The world’s waking up from its summertime dreaming;
it rolls up its sleeves and gets on with the business of harvest:
there’s quinces to ripen and pears tightly clenched on the tree
and the apples are swelling. The trees that have hidden all summer
are suddenly covered in fruit.

The sun soaked through to my bones, and the bones of the land.
Now we have rain – that began as a miracle, and stayed on…and on –
dimming the lights and soothing the fever, scolding us gently
for being so foolish, as if we are children who sneaked to the fair,
and gorged ourselves crazy on neon and spinning and swooping, but now
the apples are swelling and the trees that have thirsted all summer
are suddenly covered in fruit.

Did I mention the berries are ripening?

 

For Bjorn at dVerse, who asks us to broaden out our punctuation choices. I’ve done my best. I’m probably an over-user of ellipses…but I do love them so…but I couldn’t find room for an exclamation mark! Oh well…

 

I dreamed I was sorry

I dreamed I wrote a poem that made you cry
I dreamed I wrote a poem that burnt the page
I dreamed I wrote a poem that flew away
I dreamed I wrote a poem that smelled of chocolate
I dreamed I wrote a poem in a field of poppies
I dreamed I wrote a poem about a dream

I never wrote a poem that made you cry
I’m sorry I wrote a poem that made you cry
We were all there when I wrote a poem that made you cry
I was ill when I wrote a poem that made you cry
I forgot to stop when I wrote a poem that made you cry
I was on the train when I wrote a poem that made you cry

We were all there when the dog made you cry
We were all there when I dropped the plate and made you cry
We were all there when I ran away and made you cry
We were all there when the fireworks made you cry
We were all there when your mother made you cry
We were all there when the postcard made you cry

I dreamed that I was sorry that I made you cry.

 

This was my response to an interesting little prompt from Miz Quickly. 

It’s a long prompt, so you can pop over there and read it for yourself, and then give it a go if you fancy. I’m never quite sure about these very structured “list”-y poems, but I thought I’d give it a go. Having written it, I’m still not sure about it. I might come back and fiddle around with it at some point. 

Silence

The whole house smells of silence.
The air tastes dull, as grey as dust,
and the rooms are still,
waiting for the clatter of feet
down the stairs – late for school,
for work, for that first date;

there is no laughter in the kitchen:

no clatter of plates, no sizzling hiss
of bacon. No clink of cup
set on saucer. There is no steam,
no rolling boil. There is no
argument about whose turn it is,

no joking, no slamming of doors –

the doors hang as if they’re made of wood,
the windows shine as if they’re made of glass,
the piano’s just another piece of furniture
in a house that’s full of emptiness.

I think you’ll let your fingers wander
over those keys. You’ll find a tune –
some rare old mountain tune, some echo
of a starman’s song, but all the notes you play
will glisten in the air, unmoving,

stilled by silence.

 

Dwight Roth is hosting at dVerse tonight, and we are considering silence. Shhh…

Mast and Sail – twiglet for Misky

If I’m the mast, you’re the sail –
I mean, the thing that drives us on –
so that the wind creates momentum
and the ocean is connection –

I thought the water was a barrier,
but you see opportunity,
and I have hidden from the wind,
but you have made it energy –

but then again, I’ve held you,
strengthened you, tied you
to all these things you love,
kept you from flying too far away

losing too much, creating
too much distance. This is the power
we have together, to make purpose
out of fear and chaos. To travel.

 

 

A twiglet for Misky – a first go at a poem inspired by Miskys prompting phrase. It’s all about inspiration 

Puzzle – quadrille for dVerse

Under tables, under chairs, caught in the fringes of the rug,

Look at the glittering fractals of our love –

Zestful colours, shimmering, shining,

Pieces scattered like confetti, all across the floor,

Zig-zag sides and gentle, curving edges

Eternal puzzle,  always seeking to be solved.

 

I think I’ve invented a new form. An anacrostagram – rearrange the lines to solve the puzzle! Too easy, ha? Well, I did give it away. A fun quadrille for Mish at dVerse.

Irises

She observes the painting soberly –
poor Vincent – all those irises,
slate grey and twisting, clawing
to be free. She takes a picture anyway.

Later, she’s drinking coffee,
scrolling through her phone –
her Instagram all hearts and comments
that she doesn’t bother reading.

She buys tomatoes, lettuce, cheese,
and, as an afterthought, a bunch
of narrow irises, midnight blue and twisted
tightly , one half opening. In her bag
her phone chirps cheerily –
“You have a message”. She pats it absently,
defers her pleasure. Pays and walks away.

I’m hosting dVerse tonight, and I’m asking people to write about flowers, and the traditional language of flowers. I’ve chosen the iris, which means “I have a message for you”. 

 

First bedroom

The first bedroom I can remember had lemon yellow walls, and a view over the back garden – lawn, swing, and paired trees: copper beech and silver birch. One corner of the room had been turned into a triangular wardrobe, the door papered with a pattern of Danish dolls. My dad put up a bookshelf for me, all around my bed, so that I slept under an arch of books. I loved that bookshelf, it gave me an identity – I was a reader, always a reader.

silver birch tree dances
copper beech stands firm and strong –
childhood roots are deep

 

A fairly traditional haibun for Lillian over at dVerse

Blue

I saw a blue butterfly,
up where the grass is dust grey:
wings blue as the summer sky,
as day starts to fade away,
blue as a young lover’s sigh,
as love starts to drift away,
careless as a butterfly.

 

For Frank at dVerse – a septet. This particular one rhymes (!) and has seven syllables in each of its seven lines. This is the last of the week’s “7” prompts for the 7th Anniversary of dVerse. You know, where the poets are.