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, 27 March 2017

into blue silence on this little Atlantic island

... how to write about this place which has lit my life for so many years? How to speak of the clear blue days, the silkiness of the sea, the white shellsand beaches where it's warm enough to lie (fully-clothed), the inspiration of this ancient sacred Isle of Iona made of some of the oldest rock in the world (Lewissian gneiss is, I believe I'm right in saying, 29 billion years old)?

How to add something new to the hundreds of thousands of rapturous words I've written about it, the hundreds of poems, the many many photographs?

How to place this in the world context of so much human-made pain, destruction, cruelty, despair and outrageous happenings, as if one small jewel of a place and the hearts it inspires is enough to offset it all? And – what else can we do other than celebrate these small moments and the people united by them?

How to speak of the pod of dolphins leaping and spinning in the Sound yesterday on the evening tide in a pearly dusk? How to write newly about the seal who tracked the strait in time with my footsteps on the strand?

How to write of the hundreds of wild geese who lift off from the meadows and circle our heads? And the way that one white-tailed sea eagle balanced on blue air blew a space in my chest I didn't recognise, stopped me in my mad flight at a most unholy speed to catch the last ferry to the island after a 600 mile drive last Friday?

And how to speak of the people who bring their laughter, tears, creativity and depth of humanness year after year to join me here, a temporary community creating a web of interwoven lives and the writing that springs from this, both of which remain as a felt experience for us all long after we've left the island and gone back to our habitual lives?

Answer: I can't. So here's the first poem – I think – I ever wrote about the island, maybe 18 years ago when I started this course, and some photos from this last weekend:

Iona: The Glass-Blue Day

The way sky inhabits the creases
smears colour that steals your breath

The sand so pale it might be grains of light

The big Hebridean night that opens its arms
and drops its creel of stars

towards our upturned faces

© Roselle Angwin


  1. I am so looking forward to my first visit. love Marg

  2. Looking forward to sharing it with you, Marg! The weather's broken for the moment, but it's always so inspiring no matter what. Rx


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