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

Thursday, 2 June 2011

poem: your dress whispering its gossip (Simon Stanley)

Finally another posting from the Two Rivers anthology Confluence. Simon Stanley is a newish member of the group, and brings a quiet assurance and sensitivity to everything he writes. The first poem I ever read of his, on the strength of which I invited him to join us, stays in my memory as a felt experience of his particular blend of landscape, natural history, human resilience and vulnerability, and the layers of prehistory which underpin our lives. Simon, brought up on a farm, brings to all his poetry the sense of kinship with the land. Simon has worked with various causes in relation to social justice and such like, and is currently working for Sustrans, the pioneering sustainable transport organisation which is opening up, for instance, cycle paths in the UK.

The Quiet House
‘Rain, moving South, clearing…’

There the mouth of the glen
is open to the sky,
the scourging water a lament to the coming night.

Wreathes of cloud bodice the high fells,
fingers of mist petticoat fields of scree
in drenched silk.

The slanting light burns like blood,
like whisky in peat water, the autumn oaks
forging iron before the falling dark.

But you are with me here, in the quiet house,
your dress whispering its gossip to your skin,
the long range of your body flickering.

You will be naked, open again to the passage
of earth light, wind life, rain falling
like a grey shroud to your pale pearl skin.

The storm is coming, skewing the light,
bending the hills, testing the trees,
rattling the house bones,

tilting the bed of Earth to its passions.

Simon Stanley


  1. There is a wonderful music rippling through this poem, the notes touching the joints and ribcase of its body. Reading the poem a few times I become aware of a particular movement, a cadence which moves slowly until the end of the third stanza and then, as in a sonnet structure, there is a turn, deeper and more pressing - 'bending the hills, testing the trees,/rattling the house bones' to a change of axis and a new perspective. Glorious.

    Written too by a Sustrans worker - how wonderful. I spent some happy years as a Sustrans volunteer when living in Oxfordshire.


  2. Julius thank you for taking the time to comment with such sensitivity on this poem. I've let Simon know.

    With love



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