Borrowing Time

Weeks seem to slide into each other so quickly. Working full time, with a lengthy school run before and after, steals most of each weekday. Weekends go by in a single breath and there is always something to be done. Sunday nights are when it hits home and the mental preparation for Monday’s alarm starts. I’ve barely had an hour this week to write. I was so disappointed with myself on Friday and Saturday night as I was too tired to read or even revise any writing. These are the two slots I have to make something out of words. I’ve had a lot of ideas this week: about how those of us who speak, who tell our troubles, are deemed to be okay and how wrong this assumption is. I’ve also thought of lots of questions about my childhood: why was it so silent? Why is asking ‘why’ such a challenging thing to do? I’ve drafted the bare bones of a poem on the subject.

I’ve enjoyed reading more Hannah Lowe poems this week and I really appreciated the reply to my email from John Foy, whose poem Unlocking the Incredible Power of Small Stones I wish I’d written.

We went to St Bees briefly on Saturday and to Eskdale again today. It was sunny and warm here (for a change) and the mountains were green and lovely. The cyclists were on the road on mass – 3,000 apparently – for a competition. It was slow going. There were lots of people out cheering them on. We walked in Giggle Alley (yes really!)  and saw the Japanese Garden.

I read an article in the paper this weekend about a renound poet’s life – how he writes solidly within the school hours and submits poems every 2 years. I really long for this luxury of time. As with everything it’s a question of money. I do wonder how long nursing is sustainable – both mentally, physically and financially. This 1 per cent pay freeze is having a huge impact in real life (bills, mortgage, free time) and I am not at all surprised that nurses are having to use food banks. Almost more significant than this though is the feeling that giving your all to others is neither recognised by those in power nor understood. How can helping people through the worst challenges human beings experience be so chronically undervalued? What is more important that minimising distress in another person at their most vulnerable?

I think the organisers have done a great job with the line-up for the Kendal Poetry Festival in June. The trick is to have something to look forward to. Always.


Red Squirrel, Red Kite

Bank holidays remind me of my dad: sleeping late then driving out mid-afternoon, scorning the queues by the B&Q roundabout and escaping somewhere. Pagham, Fishbourne, Brighton, Rottingdean, Selsey, Arundel….there was always one place open where we stopped for tea and lemon meringue pie. We’d go back around dusk to catch Oddbins and Blockbuster. Magical times only reveal themselves once they have passed. I suppose that’s the tragedy. My ignorance was not that I didn’t value these experiences, but that I thought they would last. I never imagined this was only a precious handful of years.

We’ve had a good bank holiday weekend with a steep climb up to the top of the waterfall in Buttermere on Saturday. An agile red squirrel was doing death defying jumps between spindly branches. This was followed by two good films (for very different reasons) – A Dog’s Purpose and Nocturnal Animals. I caught up on politics (dreadful, dreadful) and today we went to Eskdale and walked up a secluded path through the forest. The trees were full of birds – one so lively and insistent in its calling we waited for ages to see if it would reveal itself. If didn’t. The woods were a mix of old redwoods, oaks, sycamore and beech trees. A red kite was riding the thermals and we watched it for a long time. There was a real sense of peace that comes from being distanced from the human world.

I’ve written my first review for Mslexia this weekend on Grace Nichol’s The Insomnia Poems. I was pleased they sent me this one to review as I have a lot of experience in the field of insomnia! I hope I did it justice. I wrote a poem tonight, it just came out whole as poems very seldom do. I don’t think I’ll revise it much but that might change when I see it in the cold light of day.

I loved the poem Unlocking the Incredible Power of Small Stones by John Foy. It’s in the recent edition of The Dark Horse. I found it witty and refreshing as an idea – a collection of ‘book titles’ such as “the wisdom of the unemployed”, “a few drinks after church – Jesus and gin”, “Cognitive behavioural therapy for Bolivians” and “How to get along with others in a federal penitentiary” . An excellent poem that reminded me that laughter and poetry are not mutually exclusive. I’m going to get on with reading by book about the 1665/66 plague now. Gripping enough to distract me from thoughts of what’s looming tomorrow.