I’ve been raising money for the Samaritans by writing poems. I’ve now reached the target of £1000 and have taken down the draft poems and comments on my process which were here. Thanks so much to all contributors. (If you would still like to contribute, please do. I’ve left the link to JustGiving below.) I’m now posting the poems below. There are seven poems, and they are: A Villanelle for the Lifeguards, Harbour Dreams – a villanelle, Ghazal – a way, London Transport – or Gratitude, Gardens, East Wittering on the day a child leaves home, dark skies. It’s satisfying to carry this through and once again thanks for all the great support.
A Villanelle for the Lifeguards Look how August lazes under bluer skies and backstrokes over the drowning sand on swells lifeguards scan with squinting eyes, observing the paddle-boarders’ yellow sighs rippling across the surface to lap the land. And August blazing under bluer skies is, for some, a dream, a love of summer’s prize even though the gull squawks, wings fanned, and taunts the lifeguard with searching eyes to swim in rocky coves where the sea pries, then rumbles over rocks where banned waters rip August from her bluing skies and throw her in to flounder, then to rise and fight the wildness that pulls her under and forces her to shout for the lifeguards’ eyes. To see the lifeguard loose the life ring’s ties and swim with it against the tide, hand over hand, floating August back, safe under squally skies, is to guess the ache in a lifeguard’s eyes. Villanelle: Harbour Dreams You’re a boat sailing in sight of land, slapping towards port, about to moor. You’re a foot raised to step on sand. Your lips move between phone and hand. Your mouth whispers, a sibilant store. You’re a boat rolling in sight of land. Your words are pebbles. Your words are banned. You want to escape the water’s lore. You’re a foot raised to step on sand. Salt-drenched, you hold a woman’s hand. The sea has chilled you to the core. You’re a boat rocking in sight of land. In your mother’s memory, you’re tanned, and dressed in clothes that never tore. You’re a foot raised to step on sand. In your mother’s song, you drift, then stand, buffeting through waves along the shore. You’re a boat floating in sight of land. You raise your foot to step on sand. Ghazal: a way Yearly, I aid the bees’ cosmology, cutting seed away storing the dried heads, the season’s creed, a way of staking future summers on crimson, pink or red. When I scatter seeds - threads cut from a bead - in a way - on the tray’s thin earth as if casually broadcasting news, I somehow feed a way of being, a reminder of a night long years ago when violence threatened to bleed in a way that I won’t summon to this page. What mattered then was the cosmos opening in my head. Freed and away, once the door unlocked the day, I conjured flowers greeting me and waving their weedy stems – a way of being out of the moment, this cosmic meditation on red, on dusty pollen and bee-d heads, a way to be away. Now with the tip of an old blade, I prise up roots and blushed stalks. Small leaves lead a way to spring, seedlings in pots, summer in earth. In autumn, to give thanks, I’ll walk a treed path away from fearful hours and weave a cosmos garland in honour of the wild bees. I’ll heed their way of stocking winter larvae with bee bread while a north wind blows the cosmos seed away. London Transport or Gratitude One day, mind mugged by lust or love, new things, I let slip my bag beside the wheels: lose the key, the thrilling bank card, my return. In the gap between the platform and the door, I reach down to the shingled track. ‘Don’t lose your head, girl.’ The guard’s hand pulls me back. After the late departure, he hoiks up my bag, shiny and intact. The onward train arrives, and I climb in. Gardens Even though I’ve stopped believing, I can’t help searching out gardens of Gethsemane which resurrect themselves each Easter. I can’t help reliving how we took shoe boxes to the hazel coppice and filled them with the damp hairy stems and soft yellow glow of primroses. Not knowing then how it was wrong to steal from the wild, we’d balance jars of flowers among stones from someone’s rockery, miniatures of caves or tombs set in forests of moss. We had no concept of scale then. The primroses were olive groves. The pussy willow twigs were date palms. We never saw the missing people, the man, the woman, the gardeners, the soldiers in the dark rocky cave. Even now we are old enough to have lost them, we cannot find them. On days when their voices echo from the rocky garden, I understand they will never fit into that space, and so their lives fill me with wonder and tenderness. East Wittering on the day a child leaves home Why does my heart flutter with sails? Why does tamarisk leaf along paths? Why seakale? Why soles bruised by shale? Why do my ears beat with the wings of the wind? Why this seam of suburbs? Why flat fields? How can the Downs hold up the moon? I ask this sea-washed thread in my child’s room why it’s the greatest thing we ever brought home from East Wittering. dark skies in a house bereft of light, in the aftermath of cold, in the longest darkest night, should a lamp pour out its gold? in the aftermath of cold when a blackbird warns of flight should the lamp pour out its gold, when an owl swoops in sight? if a blackbird warns of flight should the market square unfold? if an owl swoops in sight should the river be unrolled? will the path to town unfold? will the water glimmer bright? for when the river is unrolled it will flood a forest’s height when the dawn erodes the night, my love, warm me in this cold before the alchemy of light, my love, flickers from our hold Stephanie Norgate