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.

Marie-Antoinette, c’est moi

I am the little Queen of Trianon,
my white skirts spread out wide beneath the trees,
and my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

Leaving the city, this is where I come-
this place where flowers flutter in the breeze –
I am the little Queen of Trianon,

and a white bonnet shields me from the sun,
white ribbons flutter. Here, I can unfreeze,
with my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

When Paris starves, I can’t bear to dwell on
the pain, the suffering. Better that I leave
to be the little Queen in Trianon.

Of course I care. But better to move on,
console myself with all of these beauties,
and my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

It’s all too sad to think of. Here, it’s gone,
here there’s green grass, and sweetly scented leaves.
I am the little Queen of Trianon,
with my white ewe-lamb, and my watering can.

I can never resist a villanelle! Frank is hosting at dVerse, and asking us to write in tercets. He’s allowing a villanelle, as it’s almost all triplets, but other forms are allowed.

If you don’t know, Trianon was the palace where Marie-Antoinette went to enjoy rural pleasures and play at being a milkmaid or a shepherdess. Think of those little shepherdess china figurines.

I think I’m feeling a little guilty about living in a beautiful place, watering my plants, and hearing that the world is burning around me.

Pilgrims

Afterwards, we became pilgrims

our feet following half-forgotten paths,
our feet grinding sand mud tarmac pavement –
a pilgrimage without a destination –

and, as pilgrims do, we shed possessions,
left behind all those empty things,
stepped out of our concrete boxes
and touched the earth
stepped out of our metal boxes
and nourished flesh

and walked
as pilgrims do
so that our world shrank and grew

breathing more freely with each step.
Afterwards, we became pilgrims,

palms open to the sky,
sailing to new worlds,
walking down those old paths,
forging new ways,
changing the world as we went.

This is for Brendan at Earthweal, who asks “What happens next?”. It feels like the world’s in a bad way. Corona virus brought so much fear and pain, and death, but also a chance to step back and live a little differently. The US is on fire. Governments put the economy before people. Democracy is in a bad place. I have no idea what will happen next, but I hope it’s better than this.

If you like this, and if you care about this stuff, then check out Earthweal. There are some interesting poets there, writing very interesting stuff.

Protest song

The fat god squats
in the market-place
shitting out lies

and we feed him

more he says,
more

and we feed him

we feed him our hours

more he says
more

we feed him our sleep
we feed him our dreams
we feed him the swift-footed moments
of our children’s games

we feed him our children

more

we feed him meadows
bright with flowers
we feed him mountains
we feed him the river
shimmering with life
we feed him the sky

more

we feed him our souls
we feed him the elephant
the tiger the rhino
we feed him the eagle
the butterfly the bee
we feed him the sweet time
of holding a new-born
we feed him scurrying mice
we feed him the great singing whale
we feed him the ocean
we feed him the scent of bluebells
we feed him the taste of apples
tart in the mouth
we feed him our old ones

more

we feed
we feed

and the lie he tells us
is that he is real
and we swallow it
in our hunger
to feed

but we are still empty

more we say

more.

 

Sherry is manning (womanning?) the barricades at Earthweal this week, and asking for our poems of protest. I’m not even sure what I’m protesting against here – it’s too big. I started off with small specifics, but at the end of the day it’s the way the economy trumps people in too many western societies, and the way we have got caught up in this endless treadmill of consumerist crap to feed that economy. Covid-19 has thrown a lot of things into  very sharp relief for me. I won’t go into it here, but I’m interested to see what’s bubbling under.

 

Snapshot – pandemic insomnia

3am and I’m awake
not even sure what I’m thinking

out there, there are bean plants
unfurling in the dark,
those fat first leaves,

and I’m wondering
what will happen now, and

out there, the stars
are moving in fixed patterns
jazzed by satellites

and I have fragments of fears
and questions
and an emptiness in my belly, and

out there, moths are waltzing
in their crazy dances

and I’m awake
listening to your breathing, and

out there, bats are diving,
sonar-guided

and we have no guide,
no rhythm, no pattern –
we are unfurling
fractal humans
seeking a new shape.

Just sneaking in to Earthweal this week – wondering about the future, full of uncertainty. As usual with Brendan’s prompts, my  head is full of half-thoughts and broken images, and a sense of urgency that I find hard to capture.

There are always doorways

I’ve crossed some thresholds
with a blood libation,
some with music and champagne.
I’ve slipped through some
unknowing.

I’ve stepped with confidence
from one warm room
into a maze carved out of ice,
myself caught behind thick glass,
watching one world,
part of another,
coldness becoming part of me –

and then I’ve passed
from wilderness to pastureland,
missing the gateway,
my eyes fixed too far in the distance.

I’ve lost charms, and I’ve found them.
I’ve stepped through mighty doorways
carved with old gods and scenes of
metamorphosis – and found myself
unchanged, and waiting for me –
opened bland doors into bland rooms
scented with pain and kindness –

I have learned
that each breath is a step,
and the pathway clear sometimes,
and sometimes hard to trace

For Anmol at dVerse, who asks us to think about portals. 

What a fix!

I mixed a bit of Fix-it

to fix a pesky hole.

The Fix-it fixed my fingers

to the Fix-it in the bowl.

So if you mix up Fix-it

I suggest you use a stick:

if you stick your stick to Fix-it,

so what?

 

A very silly poem for De – WhimsyGizmo – who is hosting at dVerse tonight. See if you can guess what the word is.

Quest

Oh, the madness of a woman on a quest –
setting forth, to be mocked or burnt.
We do not quest. We are the quest –
my body the chalice, my body the grail.

I worm my way into the story, my belly
the cauldron, my lips temptation,
my virtue is my weakness,

my weakness is my virtue.

My strength is disregarded –
the strength of bearing –
the weight of the child on my hip,
the weight of my own breasts
feeding the world,
my belly

the cauldron

deep magic in the deep cavern
of my body.

Wake me. I’ve been sleeping
for a hundred years now. Chase me
down the wide marble stairs,
recognise me by the thing you gave me –
the ring you slipped on my finger –
not by my face voice hands hips.

Ask me what I want.
Ask me, Gawain. Ask me again.
I’ll tell you: I want sovereignty –
not over you, over my own body,
my voice, my thoughts, my choices.

Oh yes, the madness of a woman on a quest –
walking alone among the high rocks,
through the dark forest,
carrying her banner
stitched with her own name.

Brendan at Earthweal  is taking us on a quest. Last week we established who our heroes are. This week we’re thinking about the quest itself.