Rough edges

My garden,

like much of my life,

a little scruffy,

a little rough around the edges,

beautiful to my eyes

but perhaps not everyone’s

cup of tea.

Today I watched

a queen red-tailed bumblebee

dusted in golden pollen

feasting on a dandelion,

mother of next summer’s bees

sustained by my laziness,

my dislike of weeding.

Perfection may ensnare us

but it is a sterile thing,

there is treasure

to be found

in the wild,

in the untamed,

at the rough edges of life.

Inspiration

‘I want to write a poem’

never works for me.

I have to wait.

I have to go to the places

where inspiration lies.

Sometimes I glimpse it

quietly sleeping

in a grey sky full of rain,

or shouting for attention

through the flowers and birds.

Sometimes I glimpse it

within myself.

And I have to be quiet enough to hear it.

A blog post from a writer I admire

sparks a train of thought,

or I glimpse an old quote in

a book, inspiration travelling

across time and space.

Or I walk.

Usually I just walk,

and the world nudges me

into attention.

River of wings

It starts with a drip, a drop, a splash

as a handful of starlings zoom past my window,

causing me to glance up from the computer screen.

I get back to work, but then

the trickle becomes a stream

and holds me, mesmerized.

Pulses, waves of flickering, fluttering birds,

hundreds, then thousands.

I cannot help but marvel,

following them with my eyes as they streak past,

just one tributary of a giant river of wings,

following them with my mind

to the nearby reedbeds

where they will join, and dance.

Thousands upon thousands coordinated

in breathtaking choreography

until on some secret signal

they descend to the reeds to roost.

Outside my window the river slows to a trickle

For a while, small flocks of stragglers whizz by

just drips and drops as darkness falls.

Sleep tight, little birds.

A click of the shutter

I don’t have a waterproof camera

and my phone was wrapped in plastic, safe in a drybag,

for emergencies only.

And so I had no photos to share

to say I was there,

to try to convey the meaning of a moment.

But how often does a photograph really do that?

After all, there are other senses than sight.

So.

Bank holiday monday,

Coniston Water

the end of a scorching weekend.

Paddling south (first time in my canoe this year)

away from the crowds,

my arms remember how good it feels,

burn of working muscle

taking me further from the voices and barbecue smoke.

Past open water swimmers towing orange floats

who stop for a chat in the middle of the lake

unfazed by the deeps,

complaining of the cold water.

Past moored boats, and pine tree promentaries,

shingle beaches overhung with oaks,

until, at the south end of the lake

as yellow reeds narrow to reveal the start of a river,

I turn around to head back north and see

spread before me the calm lake

bordered by woods in the first flush of spring green,

low bracken-covered hills glowing

in the early evening sunshine,

the Coniston fells beyond, blue and slightly misty.

That is the moment I would have pressed the shutter.

But could that photograph record

the pleasant ache of shoulders and arms,

the gentle forward motion of the canoe,

the sound of water lapping,

a mind quietened to contentment?

One moment, containing

a sense of returning, of welcome,

a glimpse of childhood,

a farewell to winter,

and the seed of all the summers to come.

Inner Worlds

Imagine yourself

as an unusual kind of Russian doll.

A little plain on the outside

features worn away

wood chipped

colours faded.

Not really fitting in

with the colours and fashions

tastes and preoccupations of the world.

But inside

Oh! it’s like walking into a temple

There is a painted dome, midnight blue

studded with stars

And if you look really closely

you will see the stars are real

twinkling

stretching out into

infinite space.

The inside of this doll is bigger

than the outside,

like a tardis.

Time and space mean little here.

Rich fabrics and jewels shimmer on the walls

but also trees, landscapes

an ocean.

Birds flit from tree to tree

and an imaginary cast of thousands

act out plays, ideas, novels

while music flows like wine.

At the centre, not a nest of smaller and smaller dolls

but a heart, beating in time with the universe.

Images and ideas flowing in from outside

are turned, shape shifted, into something beautiful

or something terrible,

and this place goes on for ever.

Imagine this is you.

Now, take that shimmering  inside

Create

Project it into this world

say what needs to be said

Light up our lives.