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, 28 April 2012

islands, again – Iona

Last year I wrote at some length about the writing retreat I lead on the Isle of Iona every year, and about islands in general; if you're interested, there are a few posts either side of this one:

The experience of Iona is simply too huge to write about in retrospect – I only manage to articulate the magic of the intense week if I write a little at a time at the time. This year, laptop aloft, I haunted the lounges and corridors and counters of the Argyll Hotel hunting a bar of wifi to no avail. (I reminded myself of the Hungry Ghosts of the Tibetan Buddhist bardo realms – the ones who have big empty bellies and tiny little mouths – too small to receive nourishment; in this case, the dubious but undoubtedly stimulating food of the worldwideweb.) I rather wish I'd stayed with my usual first impulse – to remain gadget-free during this retreat week. It's a very different impulse; and for me it's increasingly crucial to have that kind of fasting-time built into my life.

So this year, after the event, from Northumbria and full wifi, here are a couple of little poems and a couple of photos for you:

Iona 1

The last ferry clangs in
people descend      then silence

out in the garden
a thrush tugs a worm

nearby three girls
laugh softly together

the sea sighs
its long outbreath

evening is a page
waiting to be read

Iona 2

those wavelets in the Sound
how we want them to be
dolphins, or seals –

how we crave
these encounters with wild

with the fingertips
of the gods

Iona 3

when you have done your travelling
remember how the sea
swayed under you
held you up
breathed its long slow note –

now      now      now

~ Roselle Angwin

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