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

Saturday, 10 May 2014

pilgrimage (a poem)

On the first day
we come jostling as sheep herded and penned
not really here but not there either –
the displaced ones.

On the second day
making a new home in these sea-meadows
all our suns break through to meet the high one –
everything gilded, true.

On the third day
our fears come back and tarnish, just a little, the gold.
We want to stand apart, perhaps to hide;
it’s hard to be seen in our real faces, naked.

On the fourth day
the wave has spent itself on the white shell-sand shore.
Now we can meet the eyes that seek our own,
rest in a deeper knowing.

On day five
We bring our harvest to this our companionable table –
empty our pockets to the bare cloth, break
ourselves to share.

On day six
We leave with what we came for, whether or not we know it;
scoured by light and truth we have tasted the word; it is good.
We have made of ourselves a flame.

© Roselle Angwin, Iona April 2014


  1. Beautifully put, Roselle. It is just how it was and coming home here to Worcestershire it's so valuable to revisit the words I scribbled and have now undergone a similar sort of transformation (I hope) with your encouragement. (D'you need a copy of what I've sent to B? I normally send one but you might be inundated?) Now I'm back to the novel – not easy after being so far away from it the two weeks before and during Iona. It seems full of torment at the moment – it is – and still a long way from the planned redemptive resolution. Ah well, courage, I say, knowing you'll say it too. Please keep writing these lovely, truthful gems and I'll keep trying too.
    Miriam xx
    PS On Iona you read a wonderful poem about Nothing. Who wrote it? I'd love to read it again and I think J might like it.

  2. Thanks, M. And that's a deal! Nowt wrong with torment - we have to learn to surf if - and I look forward to reading the results of your struggles with it in your next mentoring batch.

    I've just read a novel by colleague of my daughter's at Plymouth: set in parts of Dartmoor that I know very well it's a strong dark portrayal of a kind of torment: you might enjoy (never sure whether 'enjoy' is the right verb here?!) it too: 'What Lies Within', Tom Vowler.

    The Nothing poem was 'That Would Really Be Something', by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, about whom I know nothing(!), in an anthology called 'Poems of Awakening'. It's an uneven collection in that, although I'm so in the stream of counterculture consciousness myself, I do have difficulties with some of the more New Age aspects of it. But on the whole it's a very good anthology.

    Yes, 'Courage'! Nothing worth doing is easy.


  3. M: can't edit that for some reason. The second sentence should have an 'it' where's an 'if'...

  4. Thanks, Roselle – the deal is done!
    Thanks also for the book and poem; and I have here something for you from yesterday's Guardian Review, though you might have seen it already: Blake Morrison on The Moor:Lives, Landscape, Literature by William Atkins.
    Last week I mentioned Jim Crace's Harvest and you said you might try it. I'm loving it, but that means nothing. Still – I can see you enjoying it. And yes, I know what you mean about 'enjoy' and I agree with you about having to learn to surf torment. It's life, it's real and without it we have no chance of learning empathy, don't you think?

  5. As usual, Miriam, I agree with you! Yes. And thanks for the alert - didn't get out to buy a paper copy yesterday and, unlike Chris, I hate reading the Guardian online; but will, for that review. Sounds perfect. Haven't got round to ordering the Crace yet, or going into local bookshop; thanks for reminder. Have, though, begun writing that Iona book!



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