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

Monday, 20 June 2011

merrivale at the summer solstice (poem)

moor 3 - acrylic, © Roselle Angwin 2006
Zenith of a solar cycle, and the completion of a cycle of Ground of Being days that I lead on Dartmoor at the year's quarter turning dates.

It's the month of the oak god, 'he who sets the head aflame with smoke' (of inspiration, visions and imaginings). The grain is swelling to ripeness, all the trees are in full leaf, and there's a pause, stillpoint, before the light sighs, and the fall away to harvest and the waning. 

Soon the beacons will be lit in the old lands' high places.

Four Winds car park: the old schoolhouse with its beech-topped stone walls has been annexed by the army on training manoeuvres, and the walls are guarded by soldiers

rifles trained
on the untamed reaches
of the moor

'Evocative of my childhood', says R, brought up in the Troubles of Nothern Ireland.

wind a little west of north
steady murmur of June traffic
the leat's insistent chatter

water crowsfoot cinquefoil dwarf bedstraw restharrow 

feathers of bog cotton opening like prayerflags

clear against clouds
the trickle of larksong

eight of us finding a way
to speak to the day
through silence

and in it
our lives

Merrivale stone row (Robbie Breadon)

damp chill
the wind in the reeds
passing through
and between 
the voices of silence 
these stones

We walk the horizontal, through time and through space, this land – four thousand years and more of footsteps beneath ours on this processional way between the pairs of opposites; and we walk the vertical, between the above and the below. Despite the chill H takes her shoes off, walks the way barefoot.
This threshold to the temple’s ancient heart
where the pairs of opposites – lingam, yoni –
dance their slow stone dance, in songlines
as they have forever, towards horizons

we can barely dream of, towards the circle
where dyads find both zenith and resolution –
constellations spun in their stone orbit.

Standing here with you, faint tang
of fox and the day still damp
in its newness, for a time the clouds
that keep us shouldered inwards

seem to lift towards that fold of trees,
towards the home that might at last
be edging into view, if we could let it.

And beyond, that finger of stone pointing to the sky. Above, on King Tor, one small figure – lightning conductor. Someone said that's what a poet needs to be, to catch fire from the gods to continue to light our way

an exuberance of lark
the wings in my chest

and this emergent sun
calling to the same in me
through thin rain

And then the reminder that the raven too needs to be present at the feast: this dying lamb; my distress, my helplessness

having again to meet full-on this intense need to save everything from suffering
and I can't

this the Wicked Stepmother, the Bad Fairy, the Loathly Lady: uninvited one
('because we have dismissed the dark / we cannot bear the light')

But now we put on the green of the drovers' track like a cloak, cross the little bridge into another land

the water, boulders, dwarf oaks, the lichen beards, the soft embrace of the grove

shadows of grass blades
legging it across the land
like lizards

R opens his hands
out leap two exclamations

and me here
one more summer grass
in this flower meadow of the present moment


(for more on the megalithic site of Merrivale, see my post from December 19th: Merrivale & the moor's white winter grasses)


  1. I loved reading this. Not just a vicarious pleasure - for a moment (which sometimes is all you need) I was properly there.

  2. Thank you dear A - that's lovely feedback. I struggled with that blog - there was so much to say about the day, and there is so much going on for me personally that I couldn't see it objectively, and wasn't at all sure that it worked...

    Love to you


    And others of you have emailed me to comment positively on that post - thank you, lovely people!


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