Category Archives: History

Pilgrim

I could, of course, still walk the

Pilgrims Way, just up the

hill from me, but I have

lost the will to go on

pilgrimage, or perhaps

hope, that intangible

something to pray for.

 

But then the bushes about me

blossom as always

come what may.

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A Saint for our Troubled Times?

Wilgefortis wouldn’t wed,

would rather marry Christ so

willed herself a beard and

bearded was crucified.

 

“Liberata” in Italy,

“Librada” in Spain—liberated,

though in France she was “Débarras”,

riddance, which is two-edged.

 

“Kümmernis” in German—anxious

perhaps, and “Ontkommer” in Dutch but

I prefer the English

Uncumber as that

 

exactly expresses what she wanted,

what women prayed to her for–

a life uncumbered by the

wrong sort of men.

Mongrels

We are all mongrels:

our genes all spent time

somewhere else, on

cold tundra, windswept

steppe, damp jungle,

hot savannah, in

bogs or genteel shires,

cantonments or kraals; on

Viking ships or galleons,

slavers or dugout canoes we

spent ourselves about the world so

not one of us is pure.

“Las Meninas”

Perhaps when all is quiet

I can make a start

when the maids have

stopped their fussing and the

Infanta has stopped her tears and the

hangers-on hushed out and the

hound cajoled with a kick from

somnolence to stridour but

whilst I wait for your

Majesties pleasure I can

at least paint that writhing

waiting moment before my

painting is painted.

Hera at the British Museum

They know me now, the Security Guards,

nodding faint acknowledgement that the

crackpot is back, the dapper old lady with a

screw loose, blinking her bovine eyes before

blanking them and heading for the pathetic

shards of my life enamoured with glass.

 

They think I am a bag-lady without bags,

except that exquisite Chanel clutch. Did I

steal it? they wonder, but I shan’t tell them

how many such guilt-gifts I’ve had from a

husband who has fucked everything

including my life.

 

There is rarely anyone there to see my

family album in red and black:

nothing like us of course, as though we had

all turned away when a photo was taken, or

been blurred or photo-shopped,

and I am always such a frump!

 

Was I ever young? Or did you

birth me as a mother? Was there

something before? Heat and dust, the

sense of a jolting cart and the

heart-stopping feeling of having

once been wooden.

 

For in these shards, these

fiches of the forever gone, there are no

Baby Photos, nothing before the

Bridal Bed, no blood or

breach of birth, no sore gummed breasts,

milk sopping wet whilst a demanding

God invaded my dry vagina, no nothing of

what I always, forever, was.

 

 

Time is Relatives

Time is relatives:

children pupate into

moths or butterflies; a

sister begins to ache and

sicken; brothers-in-law

die one by one;

parents long gone leave

vague memories of the

longer gone,

black and white,

beckoning us into the

colourless pool of time.

Bare Bone

However careful we are, some

bare bone adheres to our soles

after even a short walk,

unhousled by history,

truffled by burrowers,

powdered by time,

blown by breezes into the

bushes we brush by,

trodden into our carpets and

perhaps, depending on how

fastidious we are,

ending up in our

vacuum cleaners.

These Islands

These islands are scored and

scarred with geometric shapes, the

meaning of which we merely

guess at, full of fantasies.

 

These islands have buried somewhere

more bodies than now live, their

lives as impenetrable as the

mist over their fields.

 

These islands are full of people who

jostle the ghosts, don’t see them

hanging in hedges like cobwebs,

swept from their houses like spiders.

 

These islands are full of strange angles,

unnatural mounds, stones pitched from

horizontal to vertical behind which

someone, at some time, hid.

Madonnas by Firelight

The warm Spring made us think of camping and the
boys built a big fire to keep
Spring’s heat alive into the night when some
berk with a Blackberry found it was
Beltane when it behoved us to dance
naked round the flames and we hooted and
laughed and shouted “NO!” but the
bottled beers and the craik
cracked our shells and clothes were shed with
whoops of embarrassed excitement and we
danced naked in the firelight, even
podgy Judy looked amazing with her
tits flying, our hair
whipping round our faces and the
sparks from the fire shooting up as our
boys revealed mens’ erections and
Spring ended up properly fertilised.

Cairn

Time began when we discovered death,

stopped leaving lost ones to be

stripped bare by nature on

barren savannahs but

hid them instead and began

wondering what became of them.

 

Did they remember where they were,

the dead? Count Moons between the

cycle of food sources? But where in a

bare landscape could a

scraped grave be marked but with a

stick or a stone.

 

Maybe on their travels some

special stone caught the eye, was

kept and carried, treasured, laid on that

suddenly recognized place which,

repeated year on year became the

cairn of all our religions.

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