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, 7 November 2011


I'm not sure I've ever seen a sunset quite as spectacular as last night's (even in a November, the sunset month par excellence here, when there are clear skies) driving across Dartmoor. The sky to the north was that limpid lemon-blue, but the west was an amazing fireshow: deep deep orange-red throwing the clean dark lines of Dartmoor's unique tors into relief, and beyond them the last hills of Devon and then the Cornish tors of Bodmin Moor folded in crimson, poppy, carmine, purple, and pewter-blue. Above all that a light effect that I want to call 'red shift', but I think isn't: a prismatic floating extra colour, superimposed on the red; some optic effect of lightwaves thrown back up from the descended sun, I imagine.

There was a poignancy to the sunset, so close on the time of the ancestors, and my own it seems prescient poem of last Monday (the mirror poem) that I posted a day or two ago, thinking of my own ancestors in the west who have seemed somehow to be gathering in memory lately. We were travelling to see my mum, who is suddenly critically ill. We are facing some of the hardest decisions in my and my sisters' lives about quality of life and quality of care of another for whom one is nominally responsible.

Can we do this possibly-ultimate – it's hard to know – threshold journey with grace, with love, with compassion, with faith in the life/death/life processes, and not be rattled by fear? Can we hold calm, as she is, with her face on the pillow peaceful despite the difficult physical processes, can we remember all the things we hold true and dear, in the face of uncertainty? Can we help her make this journey with as much of our hearts as we can, without being immobilised by our own needs, attachments, terrors? We all have to do this at some stage. That it happens may not matter as much as we think it does, from our fearful little loss-focused orbits. How it happens – I mean at a subtle level, not the physical alone – matters a great deal; and much of that may depend on how we, those who love her and are loved by her, deal with it all...

Think of us.

'... And life slips by like a field mouse / Not shaking the grass.' (Ezra Pound)


  1. My friend Sharon Blackie recently shared your blog with me and I subscribed. This is the second entry I've read and I'm feeling I simply want to send you, your sister and mother a note of connection and support. And also this little poem in which I have often found consellation:

    For a moment they hover
    like bejewelled clouds
    and dance above the crystal streams.
    Then, as they sail away
    on laughing waters
    they seem to say
    'Farewell o spring!
    We are on to eternity.'

    Okakura Kakuzo, Book of Tea

  2. Oh hello Sara/Sulis and thank you for subscribing. I did notice!

    And Sara that little poem just now has made me weep (and that's fine) - thank you so much. It's beautiful.

    This sort of kindness from people I've never met is so affirming in this life - it adds a depth, and reminds us of all the unseen connections of being, doesn't it?

  3. The day we assimilate and fully accept our impermanence is the day quality of life kicks in.
    Love to your mum and all who surround her.
    This too will pass, the Cat survived and so will you.

  4. Thank you, Karen. I have felt very supported on this journey. And thank you for the mention of the cat - knowing what you meant was a poignant reminder of how the world saves us (often despite ourselves, as humans!) over and over. Rx


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