1 Dec 2017

Poem 12


I walked the labyrinth.
Past the red hot pokers, a spreading tree that dropped drifts
of yellow flowers around my feet,
red geraniums in white pots, fists of dark pink rose quartz.

I walked and carried my mother with me; I walked and walked,
carrying a burden that I’d carried for months – years –
since I first fell pregnant and the doctor I went to for confirmation of joy
instead seemed angry that I was young.

Around the labyrinth I walked that burden, that lack of joy,
the fearfulness that gripped me as my belly bulged and my baby grew,
and that no one seemed to understand enough to assuage,
neither the midwife nor the GP, nor the antenatal nurse.

Talking and not talking to myself, telling myself a story,
I picked up a stone and walked it round with me
until I could leave it behind. Giving back, bringing in, leaving behind.
I left my burden behind in the labyrinth, where it couldn't follow me home.

Not knowing the path but seeing it would bring me back to where I had started,
I resolved, as I looped around, to attend to myself finally,
to make my hopes possible, not to put them aside.

I looked at the sky, the yellow tree and the bricks in their
concentric rings, and I rejoiced and pitied myself that I had not
found my way here before, because my desires were so hidden from myself.

My daughter and my husband were waiting.
I came out of the labyrinth. I saw the plane tree’s winged seeds,
the biting ants, a little dry spray of peppercorns.

1 Nov 2017

Poem 11


We do the things that jazzers do.
We riff, we improvise,
we float off one another
like icebergs and ships.

Not the Titanic, your ship
is an icebreaker
nosing through my inner sea.

23 Oct 2017

Near Christchurch, Oxford

These are some of my favourite parts of Oxford (which I don't know very well).

Christchurch at the entrance to the meadow.
View from the meadow towards Christchurch, in autumn.
Boats near Magdalen College.

Walking from the meadow towards the back of the Botanical Gardens.
Near the Mathematical Institute.

21 Oct 2017


I had half a day at home with the nippers and spent some of it painting.

I tried a painted collage for the first time. Brian Wildsmith did these brilliantly in some of his books - maybe The Ugly Duckling? (Think The Rich Man and the Poor Man was done differently, but still in rich, striking colours with a lovely 60s 70s feel. I was so pleased to find out that these books were published by the company I work for, as they were a deep part of my childhood experience of the library.)

1 Oct 2017

Poem 10

Blossoms poking over the garden wall

Part 1

The conceit of thinking I can be a parent,
that I can succeed where others fail;
then failing in exactly the same way,
and inflicting this on a child.

            blossoms poking up over garden walls: spring

The fear of being ordinary, of doing what is expected.

            blossoms poking over the garden wall

Gift unwrapped, seeds spilling from a ripe pomegranate.

            blossoms poking over the garden wall

The bare feet of a little girl in a shop, cold linoleum, summer.

           blossoms poking over the garden wall

Part 2

Much more than blossom glimpsed over a wall, daughter,
you are a garden, filled with pungent flowers.

(part 1 first published in Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology III {2013} and on this blog: here (poem for January 2017))