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sunken empires, seaweed forests

the sound of scissors through cellophane, upon returning home from a saturday spent with your grandfather. hours hovering about the kitchen, heart of home, heart of life, boeuf bourguignon and clattering conversations about crumbling down chapels, to be visited, along with sleeper trains to the scottish highlands, south of france summertime memories, how distant they all feel now, and there was a lecture on single malt whiskey, too.

unwrap two bouquets of the sweetest scented gypsophilia million star, and breathe it all in. stretch out the moment. flood senses. place both in their own vases on your dresser, magellanic clouds under an antique map of california. splash rose water on your face, pour sparkling wine into a portmeirion glass, it’s decorated with hand-painted sunflowers. attempt to give all of your thoughts away, for the rest of the day.

smile, and pull down the calendar that is pinned to your wall. scribble a few notes, flip a page, it is a new month, and there’s an illustration of alqualondë, or, the haven of the swans. a song about sunken empires and seaweed forests is set to repeat through your laptop speakers, as you stake some of the sweet peas that sit on your windowsill. like you, they lean into the light.

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freya (diary)

it’s a stormy sunday early afternoon, and i am walking around moseley park and pool. skeleton leaf veins, looking like the finest antique lace, are catching raindrops, suspended glass spheres or kaleidoscopic crystal balls, colour captured. and there are tracing paper petals too, wild pear blossom, cherry plum, blackthorn.

i’ve got muddy knees, a soaked through coat, and am taking shelter from the (ever increasing in strength) rain under two very tall, and leafy even in the winter, trees. freya is almost here. later, when i’m home, and warm, and dry, i’ll light a few candles, the french ones, scented bluebell, and i’ll sit at my piano and listen to her as she pulls at branches, frees a tile or two from a neighbour’s roof, i think it’s possible that nature speaks only the truth.

winter bells

diary, last week of february, 2019.

 

catch alsophila aescularia in a mason jar.
cirrocumulus clouds above you, baby’s breath in your hair.
the sky is almost the same colour now as the persian speedwell
that’s scattered about everywhere,
and a bumblebee is hovering sleepily about bethlehem sage.
it’s the first you’ve seen this year.
set out a teaspoon of sugar water.
an unusually mild february. everything is waking up early.

*

the sun is on your shoulders.
you’ve jasmine petals in your pockets,
and winter bells helleborus, too.
watch as a blackbird plucks red berries from a holly bush,
one, after another, after another.

**

“there are snowdrop valleys and swiss mountain trains and by-the-wind sailors and sweet peas sprouting second leaves, there are children with clattering cans chasing bad spirits back into the ocean, the blackthorns are blossoming and they’re guarded by…” –

what are you going to do?

***

the sea is not a surface.
you have called the gods by their names,
and now they form within us.

mariner’s way

the sun is passing the sign of pisces,
a snow moon is sinking into dangerous seas.
well, a careful love was never enough for me,
and it has been found again – eternity.
it’s a spire shell tossed to a sacred well
or a sailor’s prayer set to the song of hosanna’s bell
it’s a red ribbon tied around a golden bough
and the pale yellow crocuses growing in circles now.

 

 

 

  1. mariner’s way is an ancient track that sailors once used to travel across dartmoor. people aren’t quite sure where it was, exactly, but there’s probably some ancient scroll hidden away somewhere dusty, just waiting to be discovered.
  2. hosanna’s bell can be found at buckfast abbey, it’s a benedictine monastery, they’re famous for their tonic wine, too. i’ve not tried it.
  3. sharing honest writing is very difficult for me, even on this odd public diary/blog. 

 

 

 

c. angustifolius (x stellaris)

 

lupercalia. crocus angustifolius (x stellaria).

i’ve:

– lunaria in a vase
– abalone
– seven plundered devon shells on a bathroom shelf
– an antique map of nevada
– and a framed black and white illustration of the aurora, dated 1823.

i celebrate my new home, though it’s the size of a stamp, and there’s no pool or gym or balcony like i had in las vegas or los angeles, with a picnic on the floor. brie and raspberries and what’s more, just down the road from me, an elderly lady wearing denim dungarees and a straw hat is planting yellow and purple crocuses, to be part of a flower patch opposite my old primary school. later that day, i introduce myself, and offer my help.

my sister is in love. he, she tells me, is sparry light through stained glass, and sweeter than all the moroccan almonds, it must have been hundreds, pressed into the bottle of essence currently perfuming our mother’s kitchen. the smell is somewhat sickly, which means he’s really quite something.

“i remember seeing sacks of them, you know, powdered and whole, years ago. they were being sold from wooden stalls by skinny-legged sandal-wearing ten year old boys, their homes were hidden away villages, deep in the heart of the atlas mountains. brilliant green valleys filled with blossoming trees, surrounded by the sahara.”.

similarly, she continues to tell me, he, with his corrugated emerald eyes, is at least 50 percent more perfect than all the pale pink patterns, toothpick hearts in dyed icing sugar, that i’ve been decorating the bakewell tart i’ve made, for her, for him, with. i laugh, because more than anything, i love love, and am ever so happy for her. i let her pour me a little more wine.

“did you know, the oldest love poem in the world is over 4000 years old? the song of shu-sin and inanna, goddess and daughter of divine rain/dangerous storms. or, something like that. it’s true that love outlives us. at the weekend, shall we visit a windmill? i don’t know why i want to visit a windmill, but let’s go. we ought to make sure it’s surrounded by long grass and rolling fields, the sort that turn yellow in the summer, something like those ones we visited when we were children. do you remember how much we grumbled?”.

 

(it’s my birthday next week. 19/02/91. 19/02/19 – pretty neat)

cormorant, celestia.

diary 10/02/19:

1-

cormorant. celestia. a neighbour’s budding magnolia.
fuzz, tepal, whorl. waiting for april, all
of them. or early may.
well. i am too. petals falling to the pavement on a springtime day.
i close the rusty garden gate. it swings shut behind me.

2-

the steps to the beach are steep and mossy.
approach cautiously.
solsbro. seaway.

3-

i’m the sort of person that sees signs everywhere.
spirit, salt, sailor. a compass on the pavement. sacred, sacred, sacred,
and why shouldn’t i believe in magic?

4-

the Grand Hotel is grey and ghostly
with its tearooms and towers and spiral staircases. disused, mostly.
i’ve a fondness for near-forgotten, or faded places.
there’s a rainbow over the railway bridge.
stories untold.

5-

i make it to the beach,
and the wind is sweeping seaweed like it’s tumbling russian thistle
and i’m watching waves crashing and exploring little rock-pools,
i’m looking for crabs, sea glass, oyster shells too
(a pearl or a chest or a leviathan or two)
but there are three men, better prepared than me, with a metal detector,
i suspect they’ve stolen all the treasure,
and the sunlight’s bouncing off the water.
so i give up. skip stones on the sea.
i never learnt to throw them properly. they immediately sink.
i think a storm is blowing in.

daffodils (diary)

this is the gift of the soul, before the body surrenders,
and like sunlight on saltwater, breaks into impossible colours.

 

07.02.19:

a single new bloom wild daffodil grows at the top of vicarage hill. people used to believe that they would appear where once ancient temples, or monasteries, stood. holy ground, tread with reverence.

muddy red clay paw prints meander about the pavement. there are mosses and mushrooms, too, growing along the shadowy banks of oak-shaded lanes. i’m thinking about how strange and splendid all of this is, how it’s already beginning to feel like the start of a new season. each day, increasing numbers of snowdrops and crocuses spring into their brief being. i can hear gulls, in the distance, they’ll be gliding around the harbour, over rooftops, between spires. a sea-birds’ choir.

 

sunlight, transformed.

diary 04.02.19

 

i am two hours out of london, now
my train is speeding faster, now
and the horizon stretches out vaster than it has before.
there are rolling meadows, ancient hedgerows, mythical moors
and snow-tinged distant hilltop tors.

this is our inherited land.
this is not at all what we had planned,
but there are shipwrecked sunken boats and silver tidal sands
shifting and settling like swept in stardust. last night, it stormed.
i’ve got to trust that all of this is sunlight, transformed.

sundial or sea-bird (diary)

a pearl grey propitious first february morning
and i’ve faith as a sundial or a sea-bird’s wing
and like me, the ivy leaves are all shivering
and there are silver bell snowdrops, each will ring in the spring.

 

 

it is imbolc, brigid’s day,  candlemas, a traditional beginning of spring, and i’m wearing inherited pearls and reading about stellaria holostea.

i am the ‘flower of sorrow’
so they say
no glory can i borrow
from the May
yet, starlike, mid the green
my fragile flowers are seen
so faith her steadfast eye
lifts to the sky

it’s a second hand charity shop book on plant lore, illustrated by rosemary wise and written by josephine addison. i’ve also a very old-fashioned book on traditional british cooking, and it’s just fantastic. summer pudding, fisherman’s stew, sand cakes, and stilton mousse (which sounds awful, in my opinion). tomorrow, i’m to finish my packing for the ukraine:

– bobble hat, two
– camera, two
– lenses, three
– impractical phrases scribbled on a piece of paper, three
– diary, three
– pair of brand new lace up leather boots, one
– wool socks, two
– proper coat, zero

and, then, i’m going to go to a favourite cafe and drink one of their ridiculously strong little coffees, they’re the sort that come in a silver-rimmed glass and are served with pistachio pastries. february is my second favourite month, after december, because it’s, still, fiercely cold, the 19th is my birthday (we’re going for afternoon tea!), and there’s usually frozen ponds, snowdrops, romance.

i’m also, this month, considering a change of career:

– lunaria telekiana hunter, and then preserver
– forget me not or sweet pea seed starter
– aficionado of odd french herbal elixirs and berry liqueurs
– out of focus frost macro photographer
– butterfly, better yet, moth collector
– baker of babkas
– mythographer.

iseult’s grief – 1

he was stood at the brink of evening,
honesty eyes open wide,
each their own little lunaria full moon.
it would be sundown soon, he knew,
and so silently he watched, as the afternoon sky,
which had been streptocarpus bethan blue
began to sink into a darkness that would be lit only, that night,
by stippled specks of starlight,
silver ink and indigo.

where i was,
there was ivy hanging from the ceiling
and i was thinking about iseult’s grief,
and love everlasting,
and how tendrils and vines will tie themselves in knots.
in two terracotta pots, forget me nots.