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, 17 July 2017


Such a full-on time: forgotten how to do this. So little space – masses of mentoring, two books to complete (in addition to Iona collection), veg garden tending, news of writing residency. Phew, given my freelance author's income. Gave a talk and reading last week; many in my audience were also writers, so talked about realities of earning a living full-time in writing-related activities: the Society of Authors says average annual incomes for full-time writers (2015) £12,500 (UK minimum wage is supposedly £17,1000). However, the great majority earn less than £10K. Good job we love our work.


Much agonizing (again) over She Who Wears Her Grey Matter on the Outside – a merry dance through many flaming hoops. A week ago I spent Saturday night awake thinking it would be her final night; and she rallied, as she has over and over for the last few years of our (extra) time together after all her health problems. (She rallied better yet once I'd cancelled the ferry to France for TM and I.) After all, she's 13+, and their normal life expectancy is in single figures. How they break our hearts, these animals who come to share our lives.


Two robins are part of my morning-time joy, appearing as soon as I do. One of them is tame enough as to continually be underfoot – a bit too tame – and has taken food from my hand. They both follow me back into the kitchen once I've opened the door to the courtyard. Dog feeding time is of particular interest, and when she's sleeping they'll hop between her paws.

Later, summer dusk ‘dripping slow’ in the garden, the tiny LED pinprick among the hellebores: a single glow-worm adding its minute contribution to the sum of light in the world.

Evening primrose's blowsy yellow tea-dress. Rosebay willowherb. Spur valerian. Bedstraw, woodruff, meadowsweet. Such abundance. Most of these of nutritional, dyestuff or medicinal merit. Slew – kilos of barley grains across the road where the tractor must have swerved. Fat pigeons gleaning. I pull out some scattered stems of the invasive Himalayan balsam. From the high lane, I can see the twin rockpiles of Haytor on Dartmoor, the wrong side of A38 for my heart. All night, all day, cows over the hill bellowing for stolen calves: so young, so inhumane; do we need meat, need cow-juice that much?


Keats called this world ‘the vale of soul-making’. Soul and matter, the perennial dance. Interweaving with the outer physical landscape perceived by five senses is the imaginal landscape: a kind of connective tissue between the material world and what the Celts called the Otherworld. The imagery of myth, folklore, story, depth psychology, art, music and the poetic vision combined with a felt relationship with the natural world, part of it rather than apart, all help nourish this connection. ‘To a Man (sic) of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.’ What a privilege to live it. How easy to forget to.


In my dream a man has altered the face of my watch. I quite like it but the numbers are half-obscured. What does this mean? Later in the same dream, I notice it’s a two-tier watch: very beautiful, two different styles of watch-face keeping the same time, but cleverly each is planted with a real miniature herb-garden. I’m so pleased, but worry that I won’t be able to tend them. We’re waiting at the jetty for a steam-train-boat. In his dream, TM kicks me. He has a big kick. The dog barks, too early.


It’s that time of year: Bliss of a simple mug of tea, respite from backpacks. A robin takes crumbs from my hand. Perspex canteen window: photo of a barley crop circle, intricate and impenetrable. Is that a new one? I ask the girl. Yes, she says, I’ll show you the article. Like a proud father her bloke hands me the paper. I found it, he says. Couple weeks ago. Coming and going all night on the hill, me and the boys, and never saw a thing. Next morning there it was.

Perfect and complete pictorial representation of Pi, says astrophysicist.



This morning on the radio he spoke of crop circles,
how easy they are to make: a particular loping stride,

a rope, a wooden mallet, stakes and weights. And how,
even so, the equilateral triangle of lights in the summer sky

just after they’d scribed the three-point core (and before
the cider) still disturbed and shocked. But yes

of course the pictograms are hoax. He’s sure the lights
are easily explained.
It’s not that I need to believe;

just the scale of our objective certainty – the cost,

the way that all our knowledge still leaves us lost.**

 © Roselle Angwin

* Excerpted part of long prose poem sequence on walking the Ridgeway; in Bardo (Shearsman 2011)

** In All the Missing Names of Love  (and after Jem Poster) (IDP, 2012)


  1. It's good to see you back here, Roselle, but I can feel your burden, and it aches to be lifted. Get out your Eine Kleiner Hammocky thing and rest and relax!
    Ash is amazing and the fact that she's still here is proof of your care and commitment. She's one of loveliest dogs I know and I hope she keeps rallying without suffering too much. It is so hard, as you say.
    Found the extract in Bardo and it's prompted me to re-read it all. I wish I'd written more about our long treks, though the coast-to-coast, as you know, is one of my characters. I'm sure Bardo will inspire me to write something other than my interminable opus.
    I like that last bit of the poem: 'the way that all our knowledge still leaves us lost.' I like the whole poem – it's down-to-earthiness and then that abstract ending.
    Don't you love dreams? Yours is very interesting but not perhaps surprising. The burden of real miniature herb gardens; the wait at a jetty for a steam-train-boat – all reminds me of some of my own, though they haven't been active since I sent you the last mass! of mentoring (sorry!) And J also lashes out when dreaming. I've been hit hard by an arm during an expletive monologue. I can't understand those people who hate hearing other people's dreams.
    That's all for now. Sleep well, dream . . . helpfully perhaps?

    With love and thanks, Miri x

  2. What lovely and kind comments, Miri. Yes, I love others' dreams too, and your words about mine not being surprising sent me back to it. Oh yes, I guess you're right!

    Interesting that your dreaming life hasn't been so active since you downed your cursor after last batch of TWR.

    Hundred-word pieces about a journey might make nice transitions for you in between The Opus! – which, by the way, I haven't forgotten; pencilled in for Friday start...

    Love to both



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