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

Friday, 13 December 2013

'If on a winter's night'

Last night I had the pleasure of reading some of my poetry at an event in the lovely little moorland town of Chagford, alongside my publisher of River Suite, himself a poet, Chris Waters; and two others: Dartmoor poet Bridget Thomasin, for many years a member of my Two Rivers group; and Chris Fogg, a northerner now living in Dorset. Our four voices are very different, so as far as I can tell it was a varied programme for the people who came in from the wet, and we were able to donate a good chunk to Médecins sans Frontières, our charity of choice. (And even TM, not a great poetry aficionado (unless it rhymes), thought I was good, so that was a bonus.)

I feel so nostalgic back in Chagford. The north side of the moor has quite a different feel to it, and Chagford is a proper moorland town with much of the arts, culture and counter-culture found in Totnes but without the hype. Once upon a time I lived five miles away, in a little green wooden thatched house surrounded by trees on all sides except for the front, which faced south over the moor. You know how it is that you leave part of your heart in certain places, as with certain people? – like that. That little house, with its puppies and its bantams and bees, its wild garden, and the woods at the bottom of the garden, will always be my home, despite the fact that I have lived in other places longer, and I left it – what, 25 years ago. In Chagford, I still know more people that I have known in either Totnes or Tavistock, each my 'local town' for many more years than Chagford was.

Here's a prose poem I read last night (hope I haven't posted it before) about the house, Tanglewood:


From the road you can barely see it, there in the trees, its green wood walls and ancient thatch true as winter wheat in moorland soil, a waymarker for walkers, fox and woodpecker, the lane narrow and rocky, steep and curved.

Descend the steps to the green door and open it

onto light, as if you could walk right through to those southern hills. Place your foot over the threshold and – go on – lift the great key to the grandfather clock and start it. Jolt its heart.

Then take the chopper and that dry log and split the Yule kindling. Spell midwinter. The ring on the hearthstone will waken the house. Begin it. Call your name to the corners, to all the directions. Waken the ones who lived here before. Shout it out.

Open windows and doors for the smoke and put a match to the wood. Then press your ear to the inner skin of the timber walls. Can you hear it, that thrum, distant hum, like the sea in a shell? The swarm that blessed the house?

Are they still here, then, those bees with their promise of summer, and honey, and the drowsing of flowers, and love, bare-skinned and languid in the garden, beneath the thatched eaves, under trees? The promise of summer, and love?


© Roselle Angwin 2011 (from Bardo)


  1. Sorry we missed you in Chagford - I was working late in Moreton :( I'm glad it went well - next time...

  2. Thanks, Tom! Rima told me - SO glad your practice is taking off! Am still hoping I might get to Krasa tonight, but having had a strenuous dance last night(!) I have to say the fire and a bit of harp practice beckons a little, so if I don't, please give her all best. My daughter might make it, too.


Blog Archive