Road of Tears

You weep for one you do not know,
for one who walks your streets to die.
Don’t waste your tears: before it’s over,
you’ll call upon the hills to cover
you and your children where you lie
and weep, who reap what others sow.

 

* * *

I wrote this for my friend Kathryn, who needed a text with a specific metre in a bit of a hurry. It’s part of her Stations of the Cross, which was premièred in St Machar’s Cathedral by the University of Aberdeen Chapel Choir last month. She’ll be putting sheet music online once she’s got her PhD out of the way.

It’s more or less a paraphrase of Luke 23: 28-30.

 

Lullaby

My love, the moon is rising;
The sun sinks in the west:
Pull up the blanket of the stars
And rest.

My love, the moon is shining
A path across the deep:
Pull up the blanket of the stars
And sleep.

My love, the moon is showing
A beacon in its gleam:
Pull up the blanket of the stars
And dream.

My love, the moon is setting;
The day begins to break:
Fold up the blanket of the stars
And wake.

The Journey

Kings and camel from Playmobil nativity set

Crevasse            and chasm,         piano,        bookshelf,        mantel: we set off
when all the rest have got there, go the long way round,
know nothing of what draws us save that far faint blaze
of glory glimpsed across vast empty skies. We saw,
and set out on a path long known, unprecedented,
traced our own steps; idled, forgotten,

inched forward;

travelled

in fits

and starts;

one last unlikely leap compelled us, just in time. To see,
learn what we had forgotten, remember what we longed for.
We have been here before, but never quite like this –

– For one brief day we stand before eternity,
knowing at last, and seeing, seen and known,
this moment not to be clung to, lost in its attainment –

– Journey done, we wait once more in darkness. Next time
we’ll start again from the beginning, knowing
the way to be long, fulfilment fleeting,
but worth the travel, travail, this time, next time,
for all time. Beyond time.

Provisioning

Peanuts give you, gram for gram,
the densest protein ratio, and crisps
(fat and carbohydrate) are best
for energy. Likewise, poetry’s
the most efficient form in which
to take your words. Three slim volumes
(you buy it in slim volumes, like
crisps in bags, unless you get the
multipack, Collected Works)
will make a feast
to last me eighty miles.

What I did (and didn’t do) at the weekend

Leiden

I’ve been away in the Netherlands for a few days – the first trip abroad with my husband since our honeymoon six years ago. We were staying in Leiden, which is a university city made distinctive by its many water courses and bicycles. We live in Cambridge, so really it felt very much like home. On the other hand, Cambridge is not so well supplied with windmills or pancakes.

Anyway, I’d intended not to do too much, and in between late mornings and early nights I had a lovely time wandering around several Dutch cities and taking a couple of hundred photographs. I took Speak Its Name with me and got a bit of editing done on the ferry, but other than that it was a work-free weekend.

One of the things that happened while I was away was the launch party for Purple Prose. To quote the explanation on that page,

Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain is a book about all the different aspects of life as a bisexual person. We talk about definitions, stereotypes, coming out and dating. We talk about being bisexual and disabled, being a bisexual of colour, being non-monogamous, and being bisexual in different religions. We talk about other minority sexualities such as pansexuality and asexuality. We talk about being trans and genderqueer. We look at bisexuality in the workplace and in fiction. We talk about what to do next.

In terms of my own personal investment in the project, one of my poems rounds off the chapter on bisexuality and faith.

I spent the morning proof-reading it to the best of my current ability (I have a stinking cold, and so will not have been nearly as thorough as I usually am) and thinking how useful it would have been to me had it existed ten years ago, when I’d barely heard the term ‘bisexual’ and didn’t imagine that I was allowed to use it of myself.

However! I am pleased to have been able to contribute to its existing now, or, rather, some months from now. Thorntree Press is currently crowd-funding publication via Indiegogo. If this is something you’re interested in, do have a look at the page and, if you’re able to, chuck a couple of quid in its direction.

Re-emergence

The trees outside my window are so very green,
leaves bright (the sun flows through their veins),
the buses very red, their white roofs
(did you know their roofs were white?)
zig-zag zig-zag until the lights,
their secret numbers only secret
from the ground. Up here they’re bold and black;
it’s changed, and I, I bounce, I bounce, I bounce,
I bounce back faster now, I bounce
back higher now; I go up
(whoomph) and everything’s
on fire; this world
is good to live in; this world
has people in who make it
worth living in this world
if only for the grace
of living in the same world
as they do, and besides
the trees are so very green.

Sleeping Beauty

When I woke again, it was high summer,
the trees in full green leaf, green
on the altars, and you,
beside me, smiling, diffident,
having stopped by
to see if
you might be of assistance.
I loved all that I saw in that waking
and you, being then in the foreground,
could not help but be loved. Love springs
from the heart unasked-for, clings
to the one who stands ready
to bear it. You and I
(when I’ve become more than the end
of a quest, and you
have retreated somewhat, into perspective),
you and I will have learned
what to do with this unforeseen,
blazing, implacable love,
and then we’ll begin.