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, 12 April 2016

isle of iona: the news from here

Sound of Mull
Rain ushers us over and in
drops its veils behind us
the island floats


The Bay at the Back of the Ocean
An afternoon of that glass-blue light and my feet tingling from the barefoot walk on the turf of the machair with its galaxies of tiny white snail-shells and the little cove calling where I climb the turfy ridge over Torridonian sandstone pincushioned with thrift and look out on islands; think of that secret bay on Mull where I went the day my aunt died, built a cairn for her and for my mum so recently gone, and watched my daughter, the new generation, claim her place in wind and sun, lean lurcher leaping round her like a wave


Port Ban
… wander in a blue daze to the bleating of lambs in a cloud of newly-arrived house martins down to the inner sanctum, temple of the White Bay with its shining chalky sands, parabolas of bladderwrack, periwinkle, topshell, limpet, and I stretch full length in April sun below the machair’s marram grass and oh this this this where the sea’s voice and the birds’ blend with the island’s many voices, and the ancients from all times and places have gathered here to lean over us to whisper, to offer us the refuge of this only now now now and here


The Nunnery
Last night the silent walk back from the dusky Nunnery, sky lilac-pale, our wordless fluid tai-chi-stroll-dance, Elisabeth, Miriam and me, the rooks behind us grumbling in their sycamores, jetty awash with borrowed light, space station above smaller than a bird, calculating vastness, and the earth tumbling us on towards ocean and darkness. We stopped at the voice of some small unnameable bird, its whispered wheezy squeaking seeming full of longing and abandon, heading out over our heads to sea, knowing its way. I, who don’t, hitched a pilgrim lift in its wings, am flying out still.



  1. That's lovely! I wonder why you don't live there all the year round?! I wonder why I don't? Your words stir up sweet memories.

  2. Thank you, Veronica! Yes, each time I leave I wonder why I don't live there all year round. Then I remember that I already live in a lovely place; and in the course of my work and my writing visit other lovely places routinely. What bliss. What fortune. And yes, you know the islands and something truly magical happens in our writing groups there, over and over. It's unlike anything else: depth, creativity, imagination, openness, intimacy, joy, sorrow, passion – all threaded through every moment. Rx


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