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

Sunday, 6 March 2011

where the sea thins to green glass

6 March 1979
I have just gone into labour and am in hospital. The noise, the machines, the bright lights are shocking. I wanted candles, classical music, a home birth; but home births, and certainly water births, are disallowed, at least out in the sticks, by The System for a first child, in England at this time. I have tried very hard to stay out of the system, but its machinery grinds a bit inexorably. And I suppose I am grateful - yes, I am - for the NHS (as it was then, before all the squeezes).

We live in a hamlet near the coast. I'm very fit; until recently I have continued cycling and, in the early part of my pregnancy, surfing and riding, too. Yesterday, we were walking and scrambling over the rocks at Putsborough, by the sea.

Now, there's a blizzard. (Trust my daughter to come in a snowstorm!) Over the next 24 hours my husband, an Italian whom I met in the Pyrenees, will alternate between tending me, crawling under our ancient van in the hospital car park to try to fix the water pump, and engaging in displacement activities such as searching for an ice cream (in the bitter cold?).

Twenty-five hours later (I'll spare you the grim details), our daughter, Eloise, is born. She is still the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Fast forward 32 years. If you're interested, you could visit her MySpace page (she tells me it doesn't always load properly): That's her in the main photo. My God. I can't believe how old she is.

For her, as for me too, the last few years have brought at times a burden of traumas. This little prose poem below marked her coming through from a big one.

for Eloïse

You slid down the salt air in a slipstream of unpredicted autumn sun, circling the islands three times like a swan to drop where the sea thins to green glass, and the white sand shines; and you stood cuspal, ankle-deep in the intertidal zone, in the waters, like an early saint blessing the creatures you stood here where you needed to be, broken open under the huge sky with its bowl of birds and stars, harvesting flowers to bring back to me against the world’s woundedness, right out there on the edge, sketched in between sea and sky, home.

- Roselle Angwin

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