the places we go [meditations #8]

There are places that I visit
in my mind, places that aren’t
even there anymore, but still I
go there, when I can.

In the memories, I am a child
again, running through the grass
my feet bare, my hair a tangled
mess and the sun warm on my face.

It is a carefree place to be,
and if I could turn and walk
back there now, perhaps I would
so that I could put the world

on pause for a little longer
and tread where the grass
never goes brown, where cross
words are never spoken,

and where I can savour
the freedom of a child
with nowhere to go,
free from worries and fears.

while we’ve been gone [meditations #7]

The sight of the silage bales
makes me stop in my tracks.
I’m startled to see them,
and unbidden, my eyes well.

Time marches on, nature
continues to walk it’s well
trodden course even if we are
forced to stand still for

a little while, something
that we’re not used to doing.
The seasons have changed
while we’ve been stood still,

waiting for something to pass
that we can’t understand
or control, like we can’t control
the rise and fall of the ocean

or the cooling and warming
of the days, which have grown
longer, the sun setting later,
while we’ve been gone.

While we’ve been away, something
continues regardless of how
we feel, a reminder that we are
only passing through this place a while.

fantasy meal [meditations #6]

For starters, we’ll have freshly
sliced tomatoes, picked straight
from the vines in the greenhouse,
that homegrown smell lingering on
their skin. We’ll mix them with
basil and oil, a hint of garlic
on lightly toasted bread.

For mains, we’ll have it outside,
under the parasol, a warm summer,
our feet bare, towels wrapped around
our shoulders, as we eat piping hot
lasagne, garlic butter dripping down
our fingers and the adults talking.

Pudding will be bowls of the freshest
strawberries, laced with sugar,
dolloped with cream, which we’ll inhale
as if it’s barely there. Then we’ll disperse
from the table, our bellies full, our hunger
satisfied, longing to get on and play.

Later, perhaps, in years to come,
we’ll wish that we lingered a little longer.
But then, perhaps, the best memories
are the ones that it’s hard to see.

longing [meditations #5]

I miss the feel of the sand
underneath my feet, the sound
of the waves gently nudging
the shoreline, the repetitive
motion, going in and out,
soothing to my soul.

I long to leave my footprints
fading in the sand, abandon
my shoes far away from shore
and forget about the outside
world. To feel the power of
the ocean as it tugs at my skin

and pulls me along, as I float
in the water, free and whole again.
For salt to dry on my skin
and hair, leaving traces
behind so that it can always be found.

bird watching [meditations #4]

I am watching the birds from my bedroom window,
trying to learn the names of the ones that keep
landing in the garden. There is a symphony of noise,
a nest under the roof, just above the window.

They sing in the morning, and in the evening sun,
I sit and listen, their joy cheering me too.
I learn their names – house sparrows, distinctive
with their grey and brown and black markings.

They begin to feel like family and I glare at
the crow who has begun to land on the fence,
edging closer, his eye on the nest, and the ginger
cat too who appears on my window ledge.

There’s the blackbirds too, and the wrens, who
appear after the rain searching in the wet grass
for food and who pilfer twigs from the flower beds
and carry them away, business as usual while we slow.

I spot the starlings too, their feathers sparkling
in the sunlight, and later I see them swoop and rise
again, a mighty formation glittering against the pale
blue skies, appearing day after day like clockwork.

I see a goldfinch, with red on it’s face, yellow
on it’s tail, perching on a washing line,
and when it’s gone I wonder if I imagined it
as I don’t see it again just remember the flash of gold.

There’s the gulls and the crows, the magpies, one for sorrow,
two for joy, who seem to skid about the roof, as if they
can’t find their balance, like young lambs learning
to walk. They sit watch, on roof tops, overseers of the world.

The house sparrows swoop past my window, and dive
into their nest and I am comforted by the sound
of their chirping through the open window, reminding
me that life carries on even when everything has stopped.

a walk through memory [meditations #3]

I leave the car park and walk inland,
through a farmyard where life never
stops and across fields, where I spy
dog walkers in the distance. I enter
the woods and wind down steep, curling
paths, fallen leaves and twigs underfoot.

The woods are my favourite place
to be when the floor is carpeted
with bluebells, and the air filled
with wild garlic. I wish that I
could bottle the smell and save it
for when I need it most.

I leave the woods and stand
on the cliffs, the path winding away
along the coast, watching the sea breaking
on the exposed and unforgiving rocks below.
wind licks my face and I close my eyes,
feeling free. This is where I belong.

The path takes me up and down along
crumbling cliffs, across worn paths
until I emerge at my final destination,
a tiny cove, where shingle and sand
cover the beach, mixed with seaweed
and stones that I pick up to skim.

I roll up my trousers, leave shoes and socks
on rocks and walk down to the water’s edge
where the clear, gentle water laps
over my feet. It sends a shiver of delight
through me. It’s still cold, but I don’t mind.
Eventually, feet red, I extract them and dry
off, the spring sunshine warm on my bare skin.

I return from my reminiscences, startled to find
that I am still sat in my chair, the same four
walls around me. I long to return, although I am
not sure when that will be. Instead, I must hold
tight to my memory, dreaming of the day when I
will feel sand underfoot again and see the ocean.

what I know about grief [meditations #2]

I have grieved before
threaded it through my life
a blunt needle
that is pulled through
slowly slowly
so I know
that this is
a grief beyond any
most will have known;
for a way of life
uncertainty
fear
a world that has changed
and will emerge scarred,
for there will be a before
and an after.
I know too that grief
grows and swells like a balloon
before deflating unexpectedly
and shrinking lodged
against my ribcage
forever beating there
the tick-tock
of a clock
that will not be silenced.

morning meditation [meditations #1]

alone. The world
feels like a secret
private place
just me
and the thud of feet
on deserted roads
stumbling over uneven
paths, watching
as the sun
appears rising
over the hills
and abandoned clay pits.
I run through farms
still asleep
the cows in the field
tending their young
and think how lucky
I am to be alive.

I Am Poetry Pamphlet Available

August is a funny old month. Summer always feels like it’s sort of nearly over and it brings with it lots of memories. It’s ten years next week since everything changed. It’s impossible to imagine at the time, but soon grief and loss just become a part of the landscape of your life and after a while, it dulls. It doesn’t go away, it just becomes normal, and so you forget to think perhaps that it is odd or something that happened to you. It is just a fact of life, something that you live with.

Ten years is a long time, a lot of time for life to happen. Everything in life now is separated into a before and after, and the after is beginning to stretch out, longer and longer, so that the big things that happen in life, and the little things too, have become uncountable. Adult life has been this huge ‘after’ and we have never known any different, so it’s just normal.

Over the years, I’ve written many poems on the subject, and this year I decided to put together some of my favourites in this little pamphlet, with the idea that any money raised from selling some copies will go to the wonderful St Wilfried’s Hospice in Eastbourne, who although we perhaps didn’t appreciate it at the time, took great care of us all. Hospices are strange places to be, but the work that they do is so so important, but they need funding. Hospices make people comfortable at the end of their lives and give them a nice, caring place to be.

If you’d like to buy a copy, then it’s available through my Etsy shop as a physical thing or a pdf download. Thanks for the support!