Foundling

We found her wandering
hazel twig in one hand
feet bare and bleeding –

she wouldn’t speak
her lips were stained
with juice, her fingers, too –

lucky to be lost
in berry season
we said. Lucky.

She was afraid of us.
We offered bread. She ate it,
never looking away from us,
like a wren, like a dog
that had learned to be wary.

She never smiled.

We took her home with us,
to the fireside, and clothes
that were more than rags,
and bread to be kneaded
and floors to be swept
and butter to be churned

but still she held herself
like a deer, waiting to leap –
like a hare, quivering
in her stillness,
like a bird half-tamed.

For Laura at dVerse – a poem of finding – initially inspired by Pablo Neruda’s poem Lost in the Forest.

At the pebble ridge

All that time we spent

looking for stones –

no, for a stone

the perfect stone,

one small enough

to sit and fit

in your small palm;

maybe cut by a line

something to run

your thumb across;

cool as an ocean

in your pocket.

De is hosting at dVerse, it’s quadrille night, and we poeming about stones.

Stumbling on beauty

That summer, I became adept
at finding beauty. I reached out
for it – the clean-scrubbed nails
on the nurse’s fingers. They were beautiful.
The green flesh of an avocado;
a spider’s web, caught in a hedge –
all beauty. I held it like a trophy.
I was so greedy for the loveliness
of a child swinging in a playground,
of a light caught in water
of a bird turning on emptiness –
I collected it, collated it, I held it tightly,
threw it high, up into the air, like
cherryblossom or confetti, like the light
that shatters through the branches of a tree.

I am more than flattered to feature in this week’s earthweal prompt. Sherry reminds us to look for beauty, to show Mother Earth our joy.

Wonderful

Is this a sad song, or a happy one?
I’m never sure. But turn it up,
let all that richness pour
out of the speakers. Let it roll,
and see the world unfurl
under your gaze. Look again
at every tree, at that dog sniffing
at the wall, at that child holding tightly
to his mother’s hand. That’s love.
Look at the sky. It’s blue. It’s truly blue.
Look at the grass. It’s green. Look out
for love – it comes in different ways.
Yes, turn it up. He’s singing now.
We’re singing, too. It’s true –
what a wonderful world this is,
the one we’re living in,
the one we’re moving through.

For Lill at dVerse, who asked us to choose a birthday number one from the Birthday Hits website. My birthday obviously sits very close to Eurovision, so I had some…interesting… birthday number ones. This is one of my daughter’s favourite songs, so I chose it for her. And because it’s a wonderful song.

Also, I’m very happy because I’ve worked out how to do single line spacing in a poem on WordPress!

Names on a map

This is our coastline. We have mapped it,
claimed it with feet and eyes and breath:
Skerne, where we saw the sparrow hawk,
the place where the cormorants
hang their black wings out to dry,
the rounded cobbles, mapped with barnacles;
and Sandymere, where I’ve seen fish
thrown up and dancing in the cresting waves;
and Westward Ho! – all fish and chips
and ice-cream cones, and serious rock pools.
Abbotsham and Peppercombe, Bucks Mills –
deep valleys running to the sea,
steep wooded walls and bluebells
and a badger, once. Fairy Cross
and Blackchurch Rock and Hartland Quay,
where the sun drops heavily
behind the sloping rock
and all the cliffs are carved back,
stripped to the deep past.
Shipload Bay is seals and sandwiches –
then Welcombe Mouth, Gull Rock
and Crackington, and Sandymouth:
Pebbles and sandy feet and
salt-caked skin. Herring gulls and peregrines.
The day the swallows came.
The sea claws at the land here,
seal-grey, scouring at angles,
carving, carving. We have left
our laughter here, our voices
calling, calling. We’ve left our fading
photographs and sea-bleached stories
to be washed clean and worn away.

For Sherry, at earthweal, who asks us to say the names of the places we care about.

Ash Die-back

Yggdrasil is dying.
I’ve seen it – 
branches bare as arms
reaching towards the sky. 

Trees scream silently,
carrying the heavens
in their branches, 
weaving the world
with their roots –

what happens now?
Yggdrasil fumbles, falls -
worlds drift away -
the gods slip into darkness -
frost and fire and flood -

and where will we find wisdom
now Yggdrasil is dying?
Whose arms will we hang in?
Only emptiness. 

Brendan at earthweal invites us to write about trees. Here in Devon, our ash trees are dying. They are such a massive, ancient part of our landscape – the countryside round here is going to look very different in 5, 10 years’ time. I’ve been part of a project called the Ode to the Ash Tree Project. As an extra bonus, here’s a video of Katy Lee performing my poem Devon Ash. You CAN watch the video – just click where it says Watch on Vimeo.

Ah, Persephone

Six months of darkness –
six months of light –
six months on the starless riverbank,
six months of throbbing music,
hip pressed to hip. Six months of black coffee,
too much vodka, and the smoky flavour
of his tongue in your mouth;
Six months in a green garden.
Six months of power, queening it
Over all those fluttering, frail souls.
Six months of daughtering.

Eat the seeds, Persephone. Eat the seeds.

I’m hosting at dVerse tonight and we are looking at the Persephone myth. Check it out!