from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

only a guest: Maggie Clark

It's Tuesday. If you've been paying attention, you'll know that this is the day when I post a poem by one of the writers in our new Confluence anthology. Sorry it's late – have been feeling sorry for self under the covers much of the day; my flu has returned with a vengeance (I'll blame it on my daughter's cold damp house in the certain knowledge that she won't be reading this as – understandably – her mother's writings make her cringe, especially if the word 'poetry' is mentioned! There again, it's probably more likely to be my getting up and doing stuff, especially wet cold stuff in the garden, on Saturday, 24 hours in, thinking I was better... OK, enuff. I shall be womanly.)

Today it's wise woman Maggie Clark. I first met Maggie on her 60th birthday (quite a – in fact a very – long time ago. I hope when I'm her age I have half of her guts and spirit.) She'd rolled up at the Dartmoor pub in a pony and trap. She'd not long come back from riding across Tierra del Fuego. I learned too that in addition to farming and caring for her own huge family, and later running a centre for inspirational courses, she'd offered farm breaks to troubled adolescent city boys. Since I've known her, she's also trekked in the Himalayas, published a novel, and written and had performed three plays. She is still a hill farmer on the moor. When lambing allows it, she joins us on the Isle of Iona retreat, and the first little poem was written there (I'm sure you'll remember what happened in Feb 2003). Because it's so tiny, I shall let her have a bit more space, too.

Iona February 2003

How may I celebrate in this holy place
now all that slaughter
stops me dancing?

Only a Guest

We could hardly wait for the bread to rise
the garlic to finish its simmering
the wine to trickle down our throats
hardly wait yet
holding on
the pleasure of our appetites

we made it last there
in that warm kitchen

forever I thought
my eyes resting on you

then the champagne
your good luck
no time for slow food

I’m going to clear everything out you said
flinging wide the windows knocking down walls
bright steel kitchen

I tried to keep up
my fingers longing to knead bread in a slow kitchen

when you emptied the sitting room and painted it a sort of beige
‘nothing to distract my creative thoughts’ you said
my protests, weak with realisation, came quietly rasping from my dry mouth

after all it is your house

and I

am really

only a guest

– Maggie Clark 

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