June

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“Protect all the trembling bells of delight that you notice out of the corner of your eye when everyone else is oblivious.” – Martin Shaw

“We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of the world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.”  – Jack Gilbert

“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” – Margaret Attwood

 

June

 

The field has softened into the sweet song of summer.

Charms of goldfinches flit among the long grasses and

the hedgerow is dotted with bramble flowers and wild roses.

If I crouch down into the waist-high canopy, a whole world unfurls:

a metallic green flower beetle is climbing a sorrel stalk,

a huge turquoise dragonfly patrols the grasstops in zig-zag lines

and grasshoppers hop and sing in the jungle below.

High above, circling in a cosmos blue sky,

buzzards ride the warm currents.

In the haze of a hot June afternoon, the field hums.

What kind of world are we heading into?

Lying on my back in this gold patch of earth

my worries about the future, ideas of hope and despair,

success and failure, and other funny human concepts

dissolve into peace, and delight. In this place, this living poem,

held by the earth, wrapped in the huge dome of the sky,

for a moment I feel like the world just wants us to feel good,

bathed in beauty, bathed in light.

 

 

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Now That My Youngest Child is Nearly Three

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“May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and  the pure light within you guide your way on.” – Irish blessing

 

I will miss the passing days

of soft, small hands on my heart

cherry kisses on cheeks like

moons (hers) and apples (his)

sleepy heads of spun-gold hair

heavy on my shoulder

sweet as wild honeysuckle

 

 

Evening

eveningflowers
“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I need these nightly rituals, now;

the damp smell of the earth

as I water the garden,

the happy presence

of seedlings sprouting,

a moment alone with the

new moon rising.

Noticing how, wherever there are spaces,

Life fills them up.

Rewilding in Lockdown

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One of the best things about rewilding the garden is the way it keeps surprising me.

Clumps of lemonbalm and fennel have self-seeded among the ferns, possibly from a teabag in the compost. Last year’s wildflower patch didn’t work too well (too shady, planted too late) but is now full of ox-eye daisies, red campion, honesty, poppies and bright pops of orange calendula. The overgrown lawn is rich with dandelions and clovers, alive with bumblebees, birds, butterflies, hoverflies and dragonflies.

Seeds are silently growing everywhere, flowers, herbs and vegetables shooting upwards in that mad rush of May green, but it’s the wild, neglected parts of the garden I love the most: the left-alone corners bursting with nettles, cleavers, dandelion and dead nettle to nourish and cleanse, ground ivy and forget-me-nots to provide food and shelter for the tiny creatures, herb robert, vetch and sweet honeysuckle to lift our spirits. Wild medicine for the soul!

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During isolation the garden has become classroom, kitchen, church and living room. It is teacher, friend, and wise old woman. We’ve spent our days there, watching the spring unfold, finding bugs, having bonfires, learning about plants, digging, playing and generally letting them be crazy, grubby little kids while the world has turned upside down. We’ve put a rope swing up in the field. There are few sights better than watching the children trot off through the long grasses, buttercups up to their waists.

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Who knows where we’re heading; it’s not really for me to say. But in the uncertainty, there is space for hope. I can’t change the world, but I can raise my children, grow a garden, make it a place of peace, a love letter to the earth. I can keep writing in the interrupted snatches of time available, cultivate gratitude, go gently, fail utterly and start all over again the next day. For now, that’s enough.

In the sweet-smelling promise of a May morning, the field is soaked in golden sunshine, hawthorn blossom filtering down like snow. The garden is lush, green and alive, vibrating with wild magic.

Perhaps in all this chaos, a beautiful future is trying to grow.

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Beltaine, Lockdown

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“Beauty is the illumination of your soul.” – John O Donohue

 

Every morning I get up early, make tea and walk down the brick path to the end of the garden. Before my husband leaves for work, I steal a few moments of time alone.

Except I’m not alone here.

I check on the seeds and plants along the way. Green shoots of squash, climbing beans and sweetcorn – the three sisters – are sprouting in their pots, alongside peas, broad beans and sunflowers which the children planted at the start of the lockdown. Nasturtiums, wildflowers, poppies and marigolds are all emerging in the ground, alert and joyful, and there are bluebells under the cherry tree, enchanted and luminous blue. Big blobs of dew glisten on the leaves of the dicentra and the aliums are almost ready to burst from their cases. The lawn is lush and unmown and there are bumblebees at work on a patch of ground ivy, dead nettle and forget-me-not growing around the foot of the elder tree. Nettles, cleavers and dandelions are everywhere around the edges; I pick them to make teas. I feel called by the plants, as if they have things to tell me. The oak tree, golden-green goddess, presides over it all.

At the end of the garden is a firepit, beyond that a field. Further out across the river is a church built on a Saxon burial mound, ringed with yews and scotch pine trees. There’s a light mist rising. A fox moves gracefully through the long grasses: she catches my eye, fixing on me for a flash before trotting off into the trees. Lady’s smock and buttercups spot the field with pale pink and yellow, and there’s a robin singing in the ash tree.

Now is the magic time. Here, away from the news, the fear and the sorrow, there is truth and beauty. Things are growing. The trees, the birdsong, the land and sky gather me in; tendrils of steam from my tea spiral upwards into the air and just for now, I feel at the centre of some heavenly circle, and I am grateful.

To be in relationship with some small corner of the earth, to seek to know it, and to fall in love with its songs and its secrets – that’s something.

Back inside the kitchen, the tumble dryer thrums comfortingly. The kids are watching TV in the room next door. Morning sun pours in through the window, lighting up a vase of yellow tulips on the table, catching a drop of water as it drips from the tap, illuminating it with starlight.

 

 

(The above is my submission for Discover Prompts, Day 30: ‘Grateful’ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/53424024/posts/41682)

 

Planting Seeds

 

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“Let’s not isolate from the marvellous.” – Martin Shaw

 

 

I submitted this poem for Letters to the Earth’s ‘Letters in Lockdown’ callout. An excerpt from it was read out online by actor Ubah Egal on Earth Day 2020. https://www.letterstotheearth.com/

 

Planting Seeds

 

It is the seed moon,

the time of sowing.

The roads and skies

have grown quiet.

Sometimes in the stillness

I can feel the earth dreaming.


There are many things I can't do

in these strange times.

But I can plant seeds.

I hold them like prayers

in the palm of my hand,

I notice their shape and size,

the way they catch the light.

Their impossible promise.

I teach my children

to make wishes on them -

and I make wishes too.


I breathe my brightest,

most golden dreams

into these seeds,

dreams wild as sweet violets

on hidden forest floors.


Poppy, nasturtium, sunflower and sage:

bring nectar, food and medicine,

praise the sun.

Corn, squash, tomato and bean:

seeds of hope

for the creatures

and the wild places

and all those yet to come.


May this great pause

be a seed itself

for the beautiful future

which wants and waits to be born.


I think anyone who says

that miracles aren't possible

must not have planted seeds.


March: a poem

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“If there is light it will find you” – Charles Bukowski

 

March

 

Hope starts in small things

and becomes a river in spring –

the bright green pop

of a dandelion mandala

pushing up through the asphalt,

the cold March wind which says

hold on, brighter days are coming.

So maybe we live in dark times –

this morning the birds

and the crocus flowers

turned their faces to the sun

and sang, regardless.

Winter is tired.

She longs to lie down

in the arms of spring

among the sweet white blossoms

and the ripening buds of new beginnings.

There is sap rising up in the bones

of this body, this land:

this is where transformation comes,

where shoots grow from old roots.

So the wind blows,

maybe it brings change.

Hold on.

 

The idea for the opening lines of this poem came when I was standing on a bridge in the rain, looking at a river which had burst its banks after an early spring storm. I wondered at how the river, usually little more than a stream, had become an unstoppable force. It made me think about all the efforts people are making around the planet to create positive changes, to build “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible” (Charles Eisenstein).

The poem is written in the spirit of honouring the land, the wheel of the year and the dynamic energies of the Spring Equinox, represented by the balance of light and dark, and the qualities of re-emergence, fertility and growth.

Alongside the despair and devastation, so much is changing and emerging in this moment. The poem is both offering and prayer for hope. It is intended as a dream for the world, for the wild places and for future generations. Whatever offerings you are making towards a bright future, may they become a river in spring. x

Sanctuary

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“What we need is a great, powerful, tremulous falling back in love with our old, ancient, primordial Beloved, which is the Earth herself.” – Martin Shaw

March of last year brought blossoms and snow flurries and news of change: we were to move, and soon. A brisk, fortunate April wind carried us east to Hellingly, where we landed in a little corner of heaven. We are beginning to take root here.

It’s been a while since my last post. I wrote this poem under the oak tree in our back garden around the recent summer solstice.

Midsummer blessings all x

 

Sanctuary

 

I sat down with Grandmother Oak

there on a blanket she had woven

of clovers and sweet violets

where the fat bees cobble about.

She wrapped me in her scented boughs

and gently held all parts of me –

the flesh, the brittle fragments,

the embers, the salt water and the bone –

with soft and steady breaths she blew

the shadows from my shoulders

and asked only in return of me

that I might be with her a while and,

in ancient, long-forgotten psalms,

that she might sing me home.

Morning: a poem

“Those who dwell among the beauties and the mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” – Rachel Carson

 

Morning

 

I caught it once,

that small, delicate pause:

a hummingbird moth

kissing a white flower

just as the last stars were fading

and the soft exhalation of the day

tumbled forth.

There was no fanfare,

no glorious sunrise –

just a quiet voice which whispered:

Listen; the earth

dreams through you.

Wild Nectar

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“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” AA Milne

 

September sun, shimmering golden

bursts of nasturtium, calendula, leaves all

mottled and mellowing, cobwebs like

spun glass, luminous in the late day light,

blackberries ripened by the fistful

bounding over walls untamed

wild nectar for my soul