Monthly Archives: September 2012

Coffee, The Divine Comedy and a Bit of Stitching

I’ve had blog block…that and an operation (routine, fine).

I had started to think that the general anaesthetic had erased the part of my brain which makes things… poems, no frocks, no embroidery, cake still possible but that’s just following a recipe…..

And then….I had a coffee (it’s not that unusual, in fact it happens daily) with the Voice of Sanity at the lovely Hand Made Food caff in the village and we laughed a lot and normality began to resume (with the help of The Divine Comedy played at full blast) and this came out….


We compared stitching notes

she and I

after I’d been in and had it done,

after sleeping and making corn dollies

and threading poppies through their limbs.


Standing at the net-curtained window of a tall hospital in town

before the needles went in,

nerves stretched and high pitched

I watched the pigeons landing on the roof opposite:

males fanning their feathered backsides

irridescent chests puffed,

dipping expectant heads to unmoved others.

And I watched the people in the office

six floors up

drinking polystyrene coffee at their desks

where piles of files lean in

a hot room,

the smell of sleep and sour morning breath

masked with mint and something from duty free.

There’s a florist on the street across the road,

buses and taxis reflecting in its

curved windows,

with a single stone urn

of cobalt and indigo delphiniums and white roses

ready for scooping into ribboned armfuls

for new mothers.


I get it.

Even in the heavy headed droop of barely there consciousness.

It’s like basting:

it’s flesh couture.

There’s more going on, on the inside,

in the millefeuilled layers

of my body,

each carefully stitched back together.


We are

two seamstresses

nodding agreement.


(The photograph’s not mine. Thanks to Hand Made Food)



Filed under poems, poetry, sewing, writing


Isn’t this aubergine beautiful.

It’s mis-shapen (according to the supermarket) and therefore cheaper than the uniformly straight, uniformly purpled aubergines which cost twice as much.  Pretty difficult to tell the difference (THAT should be the new moniker….’Tell the Difference’….) once it’s bubbling along with the lamb in a tagine for supper.

Anyhow, it got me thinking about the big, beautiful, imperfect houses which I walk past every day and which are slowly being deprived of character and turned into Barratt houses….if you want a spanking new house then go and buy one and leave the characterful ones to those who appreciate a scuffed skirting board and less than perfect plaster.

Arts and Crafts

It fell down last March.

A too-warm day and the blossom out on the cherry, early,

in the front garden.

Paths and lawn and drive dull-churned to screed

and gravelled runnels

where the lorries had pushed their way in,

shaving the stone pillars as they reversed,

spewing diesel,

shoving branches ’til they cracked.

It’s just a tree.

Just a wall.

But a young man built that wall,

hot august burning his young neck to leather

cradling the stone in his arms like a child,

finding the right fit.


The house was careful, crafted, waxed and nurtured.

It was settled and bedded into the earth

and breathed deeply, rhythmically,

suiting its people,

its rippled glass glowing comfortable yellow light.


It’s screaming now.

Men important in yellow hats pose and peer and nod safe agreement

and the man with the sleek car whose doors close with the thunk of wealth

stands and strokes his prize.

I can hear it from the door,

open like the shriek of a mouth:

the rip of wooden panels levered from brick

hurled into a skip, nails clawing the air,

the smash of splintered porcelain

crazed nickel taps lying in shock

and the milk green bath that cocooned us

and comforted us and heard our childish gibber

lies exposed and shamed.

Window sills singed with stubbed out cigarettes

and branded by the dust white heat of a mug,



They heave in limestone and marble and halogen

and clear untroubled glass

to dress its nakedness.


It felt its disgrace too hard and

started a low grumble

which grew to a screeching din enough to cleave open the earth.

Clay and flint exposed for an instant til

the house cracked and tilted, drunk, and fell

wall against wall

roof against cellar

to a satisfied mound of lime spewing rubble.



A paint chart still flapping, floundering in dirt.




Filed under gardens, poems, poetry, writing


Back to Italy for inspiration…three for the price of one!

Part 1

In my head I am you.

Just for a moment.

I see you in the garden under the olive trees

reach your small boned fingers for your coffee, for your book.

I see your fine brown arms that still go in, not out

and your small breasts that need nothing to hold them up.

I see your thin linen nightdress the colour of rain,

your hip bones making its only shape

and your fox-red hair,


Your body is cool.

There is room for air.

Your limbs are not grappled by small hot hands,

child hands sticky with sweat and dirt

but free and slicked with the milk green scent of figs.

I see you look to the window where he is,

standing naked, looking.

Part 2

I know you’re watching me,

here under the olive trees

next to the poisonous oleander whose glaucous leaves

needle my skin and

I’m watching you back.

And thinking how well your family is,

how I’d like your breadth and ease

and your wide outstretched arms always for those children.

I see their sunbleached heads hot in the crook of your neck

and you smiling sure of how much you’re loved.

He looks at me through the window and

I’m here for now, reflected back.

But his eyes will dull and move inwards and

I won’t come here again.

So, I drink my coffee

here in the garden

in this expensive sheath of barely-there linen,

wrapped like a gift.

And I smile and breathe in the morning’s warmth

and know it will stop.

 Part 3

I sit here in the heat

on the edge of the pool

dipping my feet into the Hockney glint.

I’ve bobbed my hair again,

silver now,

not a dark Sassoon cap

and my body is a part of the landscape

brown folded, furrowed like the fields behind me.

I like my comfortable middle

the soft-flaked ripples and the ledge where my hands rest.

I’m no longer responsible for it

for I am old and this is what happens.

I see that one,

sun-salted children squeezed into her in the shade

twisting her hair into plaits

dripping pool water onto her hot legs



I see her long for freedom.

I see it in her dive.

That rush of nothing,

that rush of minute suspension

again and again coming back

to stretch her arms and plunge

a perfect taut arc

wanting those moments to join into a whole.

And the other one,

the translucent one sunning her careful pale body

cocooned in anxiousness,

aware of every glance but wanting none but his.

My body is not desirable,

not rounded nor svelte

and all I crave is cool pool water

lapping my legs.

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Filed under poems, poetry, writing