Saturday 13 February 2021

Poems, Winter 2021

Practical Magic

Six women meet 

One night late October

To eat potato curry and rice,

To drink an assortment 

Of wine,

Apple juice, 

Earl grey. 

There is only one man in the room:

The baby feeding from the hostess

Sat in the middle

Like an empress. 

The fire isn’t on but it’s warm 

Due to the recent luxury

Of central heating. 

Plants sprout from their macrame hangings 

Beat-metal pots and pictures

Adorn the walls

There is tasteful cream all around

And lamps that grow gold and warm.

These women sit 

Collecting now

Nestled in one place

By happy circumstance, 

And choice.

They are teachers, campaigners, 

writers, jewellers, 

herbalists, artists,

potion-makers, gardeners.

There are mothers, lovers, ragers,

organisers, soothers, 

seers, do-gooders, 

Tear-aparters, builder-uppers, 

Party-throwers and goers, 


Rational thinkers,


Whose eyes of theirs had not witnessed

The beauty that Autumn, 

The damp leaves glowing

Their final sunset hours, 

Gnarled branches


The bearing of teeth and bone 

The great return inwards,

To ceremony


And home. 


Birthday, 28

A rock of musk

Blue calcite

Flower essence for clear direction

St. John’s Wort tincture

A jar of magic mushrooms

Evening ease tea


Crystal glasses


Black Cat, White Cat posters in frames

Bottles of Prosecco

Chocolate and raspberry cake

Rose-scented candle

Hanging cactus



Cocktail making kit

Mohair socks

More chocolate

An abstract painting

Mother Earth print

Mary Oliver’s poetry

Scorpio perfume

Wood-handled knife 


To Have and To Hold

Every night we dream

Thick and eventful 

It’s a time of great change

You say

It’s our subconscious minds

Sorting through

This morning we kissed

Like two spoons in a cup

Stirring our way

To forgiveness

Our living room

Glows peach and pink

Your mother blesses us

From the window

The prayer beads 

Of another mother

Curled around the base

Of the large glass vase

My own mother gave me:

An outrageous bouquet 

On my birthday

It’s your birthday soon

Next week in fact:

Today I gather gifts to wrap 

And thoughts to set down 

Once again

On paper

To hold



I was born 

Against the odds

And though we know two odds

Make an even 

And though we know an even 

Can be loved

It can also be split in two

And be at odds

Even at home


Destiny Lies Deep


The inability 

To shake the longing 

For something else 


If you were in fact destined 

For some other life entirely

Not realising 

That destiny lies deep 

In the bones

It is not some ethereal path 

Painted in cloud 

: it is right here 

In the bricks and forest 

In the complication 

Of nerves

And wires in the cupboard

In the segments 

And parcels 

Of each new day 

And you are wrapped up 

So wrapped up already 

In its shroud


We Walk Through Snow

The snow around us glittered 

A flat sugar finish

At points we knew

Beneath was swamp 

Above us a raven circled

And the higher we got 

The more the light changed 

The more blank the sky 


I cannot tell it in sequence

Only that 

I felt fear

As the edges became white

Encased with snow 

There was no view to speak of 

We walked in grey cloud 

My fingers felt 

As if they’d fall off 

So cold 

And worried

I felt transported to a child

Being dragged up mountains 

By my father 

Feeling lazy 



And with those feelings 

The guilt and the shame 

That I was not the daughter 

He would have wanted

I did not display 

Spritely enthusiasm 

A can-do attitude 

Physical fitness and flair

A slim athletic body 

A sunny disposition 

- no 

I was the antithesis 

Of this 

Or so I thought 

And right there in the snow 

I experienced all of this 


I could feel that childlike despair 

But also 

The wonder

Before reaching the peak  

We stopped at the plateau 

I cried, exhausted, 

As you peed into white snow 

We shared a peanut-butter cup 

The salty sweet plastic crunch 

Feeling ever so nutritious 

In the cold 

With a weary, worked body 

In tow 

We sipped rakija 

From a pesto jar 

‘Delicious’ I say 

My tears fast drying 

With the journey 

Of that hot, faintly bitter, 

Spirit of plum 

Made by my uncle 

In ńĆortanovci 

There on the mountain 

Which serves us both

As guardian 

Which I hadn’t climbed 

In years 

You poured two thimble-fulls 

Out on the ground 

For those that have passed

And it struck me as a mingling 

Of ancestors 

- Not for the first time -

There have been many signs

Of our rivers merging 

I enjoyed watching you 

Stride ahead

Your confident wide shoulders 

And proud chest

Feeling safe 

In your good judgement 


Your sense of adventure 

More concrete than mine

More striving 

And physical 

There hung a strange light

Over the sea

As we descended

From the dusty sky

Glowed an earthy sunset 

A chemical fire:

Ominous mist 

Like ash 

Behind us 

Iced peaks 


Amongst pink 

Cherubic clouds

Down on the road

We were met

By the liquid gold

Of late afternoon, 

Moss-covered rocks,

And the presence 

Of centuries 

And tales 



The first gateway

The first glimmer of Spring

Of lengthening days

Of snowdrop hope

Pushing through

Cold coagulated earth

Green shoots waiting 

All that was planted


From the undergrowth

To place on my altar

In a crystal vase

I collect water

A magical sight

Going up so close

To the waterfall 

As it rains incessantly 

Everything so alive 

So good and affirming

To be in a place

Where I feel so at home

So real and so true

Surroundings where you think

This is me, this is real beauty

Old tree roots and moss

And sharp rock faces

The ornate fountain

And mysterious lake

I pick two snowdrops 

Outside our front door

To place in the vase

Having thrown the previous bunch 

Into the lake

Making a wish

For our love’s longevity

I place four candles

Around the vase

And a cup 

With warm milk and honey

I light incense

And play Irish songs

About St. Brigid and witches

I sit with eyes closed 


The essence

And the meaning

Of this day 

Feeling connected

To my sisters

All around the world 

Lighting fires

Circling wells

Crossing head and heart

Singing prayers

Setting intentions

Writing poems

And planting seeds

A stirring yes


In the belly

Having rested

Having fattened itself

In time for birth 


Our Long Soak

What to grasp in these times?

We are living

Bathed in question