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

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

tongues of autumn lapping at the land

Autumn is dropping her stories, already, all over the moor.

Each year I think I've never seen the rowans such a perfect shade of pumpkin-red, the light quite so enchantingly golden, promiseful. There are stories in the juicy 'whorts', the wild bilberries clinging to the rockfaces; in the ancient granite boulders; in the steps I take in the steps of others on this oldest of drovers' tracks.

In the west, against a hazy sky, Pew and Vixen Tors are cutouts. As I think the names of the tors, ahead of me on the track something flashes a shout of russet against the goldgreen light – vulpine and voluptuous with summer.

I notice with a heart-murmur of pain the new young badger's freshly-dug latrine: it's tonight the badger cull is due to start. I can barely let my mind go there – the cruelty, the stupidity,  the insanity, the demonisation that, against the science, is to pacify farmers about TB.

I lie back on a mossy boulder. The grove holds its stillness as a chalice bears wine. I still too to earth-time.

Across from me new tongues of fern emerge from stone speaking their own green language; descendants, perhaps, of the ones that have died in the season since I was here; since we were here. Or maybe the old crown simply died back, and these new Fibonacci spirals are re-emergence from the same strong rootstock.

Once we looked into the mouth of this history of rock; its tales, its long journeys and transformations. We wrote for it then, in its language.

At the edge of the grove our other selves flicker in the trees; die away; re-materialise. Perhaps nothing is ever truly lost.

I wish I could upload for you the stories of the unknown unseen yous. I wish I could upload, too, the yaffle of the green woodpecker as it undulates away southwest; the song of the unseen wren by the granite gateway; the sharp taste of wood sorrel leaves bursting on my tongue. From somewhere comes a tang of pony on the breeze; warm, sweet, good.

Now, homewards, the late August sun slides over my hair and neck, my shoulders, my back.

The lanes are dusted with handfuls of golden chaff from the barley harvests.

Later, darker, waifs of cloud float down the Princetown road, slow me to a crawl in case of ponies, sheep, cattle in the road. The other side of each wisp is astonishingly clear: the Milky Way shawling the sky.

I don't know, suddenly, if I find myself drifting among the stars, or if I am myself the drifting stars.


From Thursday, I'll be off in France leading a writing retreat in the wild Cévennes (one place left for anyone wanting a last-minute adventure!).

I'm not taking my computer, so more after 9th September.


  1. Speed your journey to your wonderful retreat (I will away to wild West Wales to visit Dewi Sant and seek Celtic inspiration there)
    As always, you have conjured a beautiful word picture of your own landscape at the moment - here, today, the first heavy morning mists.
    And again I ask - when are you going to publish these blog posts as a book? They so deserve to be gathered up and spread further abroad! Please?? xxx

  2. Roz, I think you're one of the most affirming people I know - generous of heart and tongue. I SO appreciate that. And - you know - the idea of collecting some of these and your sense, which you've re-affirmed just now, that people might buy a resulting book (I mean the generosity of your comments and nudges), gives me a little opening into a place of light after a few years of a lot of difficulty, loss and death.

    I don't know if you know how rare such small kindnesses to others can be, and how important they are? xx

  3. I'll miss you. So often I read your blog to help me settle before I write my stories of the unseen yous in my imagination.
    Have a good time.

  4. Oh Marg, dear Marg, bless you for that. Means a lot. x

    1. From Miriam:

      Exactly my thoughts and maybe you remember some time ago my suggesting just the same as Roz. Now, I'll add my plea again: a book, please, of these wonderful blogs – the closest I come to communing with like-minded compassion (with a few – far too few – exceptions). It is rare to find and so yes, my heart sank a little at not having your blogs for a short while but you deserve a break.
      More specifically I was very moved by the lyricism of this prose-poem (blog sounds sticky, muddy, clodding which it ain't!) and as always inspirational. It's dull and parched and arid round here though the early blackberries (cultivated escapees) are well worth gorging. And though it's not the north (still dream of being there constantly) Pershore has some fantastic plums. But the best thing today was the tiny blue butterfly which rested close by, folded to invisibility, then, as if deciding to trust me, slowly opened its speedwell wings, revolved slightly in slow pirouette, and just was. The day seemed less grey. Shall look it up but I'll forget which blue as I always do; in any case it'll always be half a speedwell flower.
      Have a great time at Gardoussel and return safely.
      Love, M.

  5. Miriam, my dear friend, a big hug to you for that. OK, maybe I do believe it's possible...

    And talking of lyricism, look at this!


    Half a Speedwell Flower

    The tiny blue butterfly [which] rested close by,
    folded to invisibility, then, as if deciding
    to trust me, slowly opened its speedwell
    wings, revolved slightly in slow pirouette,
    and just was.
    The day seemed less grey.


  6. PS Miriam: when I posted that, 'The day' etc was indented to just after (below of course) 'just was'...xx

    1. Miriam, yet again, laughing and crying!!

      I read the poem and d'you know what my instant response was? Oh no, I've unconsciously stolen someone elses's published poem!!! Can you believe it? (Yes, I suppose you can since you know me pretty well by now.)
      But a million thanks, Roselle; as I wrote the above I did hope – maybe this is the start of something (tide's been too far out for months now). And there we are, you've delivered it beautifully complete on a plate. Thanks dear midwife!
      Much love,


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