Monday, May 25, 2009

A Hot Bath

For a recent writing class we had to make a list of 10 of our favourite things. Not an easy task to pick 10 out of so many but way up there at the top of the list for me was a deep, hot bath. Not very eco friendly but I'm afraid a mere 2 inches just doesn't do it for me.
No one else in my family can take it as hot as me. I have to feel completely submerged and for real luxury I add Badedas bubble bath - I love the smell of the horse chestnut.
I lie there relaxing, meditating, sometimes praying, sometimes drifting off into a complete void. I have to lock the door otherwise my youngest daughter will still try to get in the bath with me and then there's no peace. A dream come true for me would be to have a huge skylight in my bathroom so I could open it while lying in the bath and stare at the sky at the same time.

One of my favourite children's books is '5 minutes peace' by
Jill Murphy. It tells the story of The Large elephant family and How Mrs Large tries to escape from her rambunctious children for a few minutes peace. Mum's love this book!!

Just by chance a friend lent me Sylvia Plath's 'The Bell Jar' to read which has been on my 'to read' list for ages. She describes having a bath so perfectly, obviously a woman after my own heart.

'There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: ‘I’ll go take a hot bath.’
I meditate in the bath. The water needs to be very hot, so hot you can barely stand putting your foot in it. Then you lower yourself, inch by inch, till the water’s up to your neck................I never feel so much myself as when I’m in a hot bath. I lay in that tub...... and I felt myself growing pure again. I don’t believe in baptism or the waters of Jordan or anything like that but I guess I feel about a hot bath the way those religious people feel about holy water.
I said to myself: ‘Doreen is dissolving, Lenny Shepherd is dissolving, New York is dissolving and none of them matter anymore. I don’t know them, I have never known them and I am very pure. All that liquor and those sticky kisses I saw and the dirt that settled on my skin on the way back is turning into something pure.’
The longer I lay there in the clear hot water the purer I felt, and when I stepped out at last and wrapped myself in one of the big, soft white hotel bath-towels I felt pure and sweet as a new baby.'

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Northern Viper

The Northern Viper

On Spring mornings, as fair weather joggers pace by,
he is there, basking in the warmth
of a south-facing windrow.

His old self lies discarded in bracken, blows to dust
in the wind. Transformed, he glistens sleek black
and silver, yet his adder sense bids him linger.
Like a mobile phone on charge, soaks up the glow,
his visceral length taut with latent energy.

Vulnerable to the shadow of a passing buzzard he remains
coiled. Springs only to the challenge of a rival, wraps him
in a neck brace and grapples like an Indian wrestler
to the mat; wormlike they retreat.

Elliptical eyes hold you entranced. He will follow
your zigzag scent through sand and slash, ring you
with his muscular form, his tongue flickering
while you quiver in response. You lie entwined,
for hours.

Releases, and famished dives into the larder
of a nearby stream, the croak still audible within
his gaping gullet.


The Northern Viper is another name for the British Adder which is our only venomous snake. I was reading about them in a Simon Barnes article in The Times and it inspired me to read up on them and write a poem. They are to be found in early Spring after awaking from hibernation, basking in sunny spots and waiting for mates. Hengistbury Head which I have written about recently is one place they are to be found along with the also protected Natterjack Toad.
A windrow is a line of woody debris either natural and blown by the wind or left after logging. Some members of my writing group weren't sure about this word as it was confusing with 'window' but I quite liked it so have left it for now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Beach Huts

I invariably take a photo of the beach huts at Mudeford each time I visit. They are so picturesque. Like gaily coloured party bunting lining the coast. Mudeford Spit is a sandbank bordered on one side by Christchurch Bay and the Solent, and on the other side by Christchurch Harbour. There are about 300 beach huts situated on the sandbank. My daughter would like me to buy one. She can't imagine they would cost very much!! These are not your average beach huts, spacious, with sleeping areas and all tastefully decorated. I plan to go down with my watercolours on a sunny day and spend some time painting and writing in this magical place.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dancing My Soul Out

I love these photos by Hal Eastman which show women dancers breaking free through dance in natural settings to reveal their innermost selves.

I like to dance in the kitchen. I'll be cooking the tea or washing up with the radio on and suddenly I'll get this incredible urge to 'let rip'. I crank up the music and literally shake my hair and booty till I work up a sweat. Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' happens to be a favourite at the moment. Now I'm not saying I'm poetry in motion as the above image portrays but boy does it feel good just for that short while. There's something about that movement which releases a lot of tension and really lifts the soul. I'm always smiling at the end. It's a bit like being in a church and feeling so moved by the spirit that despite yourself you just raise your arms up towards the heavens and allow yourself to be filled by the presence.

My kids are getting to the age where they are mortified by my outbursts but I have promised never to do it when friends are round.

I'd love to join this guy Matt in his dance around the world.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sea Pink

I am very proud of this picture of 'sea pinks' or 'thrift' as they are more commonly known (real name: armeria maritima) . They were growing wild on the artificially created sea defences at Hengistbury Head. Like little ballerina tutu's on slender green stems. I love how you just can't hold nature back, 'what will be, will be' as they say. I love how beauty can root itself in seemingly inhospitable places.
I wish I had a photo of me taking this photo, now that would have been comical! It was not easy, I was being held up by my bottom as they were quite high up.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pink Blossom

Most of the cherry blossoms have now tumbled to the ground with each whisper of a breeze, like rose petal confetti thrown over a newly married couple. The love affair with Spring is now official. Two little girls enjoy the beauty of the pink frosted ground.

There is some new treasure appearing each day. I now have the wonderful pink sight and scent of my archway covered in Clematis. It makes my heart skip each time I turn the corner.

My favourite blooms of the day have to be these lovely scented stocks brought by a close friend who I thank God for every day as she has been there for me through a very difficult time.

" Your words fall soft and gentle, like petals, from your lips"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Child's Foot

A child's foot doesn't know it's a foot yet
And it wants to be a butterfly or an apple
But then the rocks and pieces of glass,
the streets, the stairways
and the roads of hard earth
keep teaching the foot that it can't fly,
that it can't be a round fruit on a branch.
Then the child's foot was defeated it fell
in battle,
it was a prisoner,
condemned to life in a shoe..........

I love babies feet. So soft, warm and chubby. I love to kiss them, nibble them, play with the little toes and nails. They always smell so clean and lovely. Adult feet - now that's an entirely different story, lets just say it's not my favourite part of the human body.

I also love this poem by Pablo Neruda. It's a translation from the Spanish and is from a compilation I'm reading called "Full woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon". It's a fabulous book, it has the english and spanish versions side by side. I love to see how the poet works with rhymes and rhythms and line endings in his own language. I don't speak Spanish but I know some Portuguese so I can appreciate the original versions. In the above poem "To A Foot from It's Child" the foot is used as a metaphor for the crushing of a child's spirit through the challenges and restrictions that life places upon him.

Neruda writes wonderfully about the simple things in life. In particular he has written many odes to such simple things as a pair of socks, to laughter, to wine, to ironing, to an onion etc. If you want an introduction to Neruda or to read the rest of this poem I don't think you can go wrong with this book.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


It was a welcome smell, like an old friend
come to call, he'd long forgotten.

Waves of bittersweet memory washed away
the here and now as scenes of Class 2a
floated to the surface.

He saw her now, Miss Jenkins with her flowery
skirt. The rows of guillotined sugar paper,
sequins, sweet pencil shavings, string,
and the gloopy smell of Copydex.

He remembered how perfectly the little pot fitted
his tense hand. How he lifted the brush dripping
with the glorious stuff, let it glob onto a smooth
sheet of blue, poked in his nose and sniffed

She'd put a hand on his shoulder as he worked,
"How wonderful, real promise"

The picture dried. A daybreak of concrete floor
greeted his body. He shook the can - empty.

Gluesniffer by Suzi

This was a poem written during my week at The Hurst. The exercise was to write a poem including some of the following: a childhood memory, a brand name, a metaphor, a simile, an unusual word, the past linked to the present.