Monday, 25 November 2013


A piece of paper, bark, thin bark,
white, silver birch, spread flat,
white, pale brown stripes, horizontal,
vertical, just a plain white backdrop
with little decoration. Just that.

Diving into the water, over and over
and over again; swimming out to the
boats, back, up the ladder, off the
harbour wall again, and again, and again,
all afternoon. An afternoon
shot through with sweetness, friends,
water, the sea, salt water, what we're
made of. And now just
a white background and
a loudly beating heart.
Gulls calling in the distance.

like trees
like a forest
at the edge of
my awareness.
Thick. Like treacle.

As I live through my fallow time,
my fallow season, when everything lies
dormant, a long winter, as I bury
myself gently in soil, and stand it
in a dark and peaceful place to rest,
fallow, dry, holding the seed
of myself safe, as ancestors peer down
from the forest, weaving shapes in the
landscape, weaving meaning in the sky
and the soil
and the waving branches of trees
on either side of the road.
And the distant glimmer of the sea.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Life and death

Those who do not know
life and death
do not know
life. Or death.
Do not know the terrors,
crippling, desperate, holding
onto life by any means
possible, and the final
letting go when nothing else
is possible.
Life. Holding on to life.
Holding on to those who matter.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

All is still

Clouds fixed to the sky
like collage, small pieces
of cotton wool, glued to a
stiff black board.
And the man in the moon looks on
with his startled expression,
staring out towards the big dipper,
towards the white and red lights
of a far away plane, towards
the distant glow of Dublin.
All is still. All is still.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


Lying there, semi- permanent.
We've already agreed the
End of Life Care Plan.

Hours pass. You lie, unconscious.
Sunday morning, someone takes out
the drip. Who decided that? Not me.
Not you. Doctor says there's no
evidence a patient feels thirst.

Unconcious, you lie. We sit.
Waiting. For you to die.
(no-one dares ask, how long will this take?)

We pass the ipod round, look things up
on Google Earth, and pull up songs
on Youtube that we think you
might have liked.

How do you sit with the dying?
What's ok? What's not?
How loud can you really play
that bloody song before
someone says "shhhh - he'll hear you.."

Finally, finally, tonight it's agreed.
I'll stay. You all go rest. Bye,
Bye. Bye. Yes of course, anything changes, I'll call, bye, night.

No monitors now. No heart, no pulse, no nothing checked. Just you.
Lying in the bed. Not there,
still there, semi-permanent.

And then, your hand moves.
Your eyes flicker. Quietly
(so quietly) you say " thirsty".
Panic. I don't know what
you're allowed. You're dying
for god's sake.

The orderly brings water
you drink, drink more,
all night you wake and ask for
water and drink.

In the morning you have breakfast.
And I don't know if you're living
or dying. I feed you careful spoon
by spoon.  By the time the doctor
arrives, expecting you gone,
you're sitting up, managing whole

Do you know where you've been?
You don't ask why we're all here,
across distances, by your bed.
You watch the helicopters fly in and out,
and point, and smile, and take
small pieces of chocolate in your mouth.

You slowly recover.
Everything's ok.
And six days later,
When no-one's in the room,
your eyes close again.
And this time -
       you're gone.
That's what this life is.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Baby baby baby girl, arriving

Baby baby baby girl, arriving
from nowhere
from everywhere
from a desperate need for connection
to nothing
to everything
then you're sleeping on my belly
you're something
you're everything
as I walk suddenly for two
holding your tiny hand
walk slowly, slowly
letting you pace me
counting the stones in the wall
holding your hand as you
skip skip skip
holding my heart in yours
holding something
holding everything
as you skip ahead
into the full grown you


Sent from my iPhone

Friday, 13 September 2013

13 Sept - Friday

September evening
I start in the garden, then
Slowly, move out to the road.
Blackberries hang thick, juicy,
A bumper crop. I'm picking,
And ripe fruit falls easy, slips
Right through my fingers, and
Into the bracken and nettles
Under my bowl. A bumper harvest.
I bring the bowl home. Add
Four plums from the tree
(all that's left by the birds).
Four apples. All together in a pan,
With two spoons of sugar.
Bring to the boil.
Simmer a while.
Nature's bounty, in a bowl.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Fwd: Castelo das Mouros

Castelo das Mouros
(acrylic on board)

The Moorish Castle high on the hilltop in Sintra, just north west of Lisbon. Sintra is a World Heritage site, and well worth a visit. The castle is a very steep climb up from the town, but worth the climb. More info on Sintra:

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Bats swoop

It's darker now than it has been,
despite the heat of the day.
It's darker, now, tonight.
Bats swoop and glide overhead.
Tiny pipistrelles, a summer glide,
trailing glimpses of autumn and halloween. It's darker now.
My mother's capacity for love
is greater than mine has ever been.
My father's, less, I think.
Bats swoop.
Worked late again.
Bats swoop.
Meant to go swimming.
Bats swoop.
But things came up.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The pond is full of tiny frogs

hundreds, clamouring over each other, the size of a fingernail, but if you lift them out, hop! Back they jump.

The swallows swoop and chirp, fly to and from their nests over our heads.

And as daylight finally fades, we sit out, glad now of the blanket, and watch the last bits of colour fade to black.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Early morning, mid summer

Pink blossom at the side of the road.
A pheasant flies low over the cleared trees.
A small bird sits on the wires and sings.
Its an easy, midsummer morning.
Life is sweet.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Fwd: Early Sunday Los Abrigos

Slowly coming to life. A man and woman, walk easily together, talking, intense.  In the square by the church, two small boys ride scooters, as their father reads the paper. In the harbour, a fisherman cheerfully starts the engine on his small boat, singing to himself and chatting to the old man standing on the quayside. Men fish off the rocks, and a blonde haired man and his little boy fish from the jetty, just behind the harbour. In the sky, just a few cotton buds of cloud, dotted here and there.

Voices of children inside seep through shutters to windows which have not yet been opened. An older woman, in loose dress and sandals, hoses her garden, then pulls the hose across the street to water the plants in the verge above the harbour. A little boy out on a balcony with his mother waggles his fingers at me. People walk dogs. A man in a wheelchair sits outside his house. A cafe owner wipes tables.

The church in the square is locked tight. Thankfulness doesn't need to be locked within four walls. Everybody prays in their own way.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


For thirteen years, we've been living in this house. For thirteen years I've watched each year as the swallows have tried, for a week or so, to build a nest, only to have it pulled down by the wind. They started again last weekend. And I looked on, sadly, at their futile efforts. And yet. Not one, but TWO nests completed, and a pair of swallows in each!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Early Start

Sunshine at dawn, with barely
a whisp of cloud in the sky.
I wake up early, and (for once)
sated with sleep. I decide to
take the dogs for a run, and myself
for a half walk, half run (of the conscience easing sort).
All is still. As I reach the crossroads,
a cuckoo pipes up from the trees,
down in the bog. Other birds trill
and chirp, and a wood pigeon adds its
gentle call. There are bluebells, and
pretty white flowers I can't name.
All is good, and the day stretches
before me, all sunshine and space.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The gossamer thread
that holds
the living to the dead.

Before conception - what?
Last breath then - where?
Floating and tied

with gossamer

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Walking out

The old man struggled determinedly to put his clothes on, though his hands shook and his fingers fumbled; the nurses and the doctor, at the far end of the ward, had their backs to him. He tucked his shirt into the gaping waistband of his trousers. A nurse, half turning, caught sight of him and rushed across the ward. "Please! Getback to bed! You shouldn't be sitting, let alone standing and out of bed!" He stared her down, as the other medical staff followed her to surround him. "I'm leaving". A chorus of "you can't!" " you're too sick" and "please let me help you back into your pyjamas and back into bed".

"I'm leaving. My mind is sound, even if my body is not. I reject this ward. I reject your treatment. I'm leaving". And taking his jacket over his arm, the old man walked, slowly, with difficulty, to the doors at the end of the ward. He stepped out into the corridor, and was gone.

I never saw him again, but his words ran round and round like a loop of film as I lay in the bed, weak, powerless, vulnerable. And I determined I'd do just as he had. And now, six months later, I'm walking out of Ward 5, against the odds, in defiance of their prognosis, I'm walking towards a life they told me I'd never have.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Sitting cross legged in the hall,
listening to Mr Slater's assembly,
in the tall, redbrick assembly hall
at the centre of the school. And,
at the centre of the room, the
black square, where the maypole went.
When it was time. And before it was time, where we stripped to our pants and vests, for "music and movement".
Ah. Those days. Playtime, and the black square where naughty boys and girls were made to sit. Naughty boys. Naughty girls. 1973.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

In the headlights

Driving home from dinner, and the sky
dark now, (finally,) at 10pm. Passing under Carrig, the headlights catch,
and startle, three young deer. They circle for a moment or two as the car comes to a stop, then leap away, into the fields, and the dark. It's been a long day - and we're tired. Still - THREE!
They're gone now, leaving a satisfied glow,
and home we go.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Spring - finally!

Mama tells a story

when we go for lunch.
"people as me why"
she says
"why I never have relationship
after you father".
We say nothing.
"well", she says
"I bring my friend home,
and YOU, standing on you stilts
and you say What Your Name
and he say Bruno
and you say Bruno?
Like a dog. Woof woof woof.
And you brother, he say
My Mother A Very Good Aim
With a Knife, You Know!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Upside down angel!

and something beckons, calling
"you! It's you!" and then
vanishes into the distance,
leaving things humdrum.
Humdrum and happy.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Mud clings

Parent becomes
has always
been child.

Child grows
into parent.

Somewhere a dog barks.

Somewhere else
a fox
runs up the road,
illuminated in the

(and the bins have to go out)
(and the sun shines)
(and another day comes)

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Shadows and light and life

Horse at the gate
It was late, tonight, when I stepped out to walk the dogs. A guilt walk - they'd been in their pen outside all day, and we were only just home. I took a torch, but after a while, I realised I didn't need it. Light enough to see my way without.

It was late, and still warm - so strange! I walked without a coat or a hat or a scarf. And the quarter moon lit the sky. A black shadows of dogs raced down the road. And a faint orange glow in the distance showed Dublin, over the mountain.

A horse in his coat still stood by the gate, pulling at hay. Somewhere in the distance the squeal of a small animal. Shadows and light and life. And as I turn back in the drive, Andrew's sitting in the porch in his pyjamas, waiting for me to come back before he'll go to bed. Shadows, and light, and life.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Sitting beside a windmill, a little girl, the photo sepia yellow. Short white dress and blonde hair.

Sitting in a chair, an old lady. Grey hair, making decisions about where to live.

What passed between?

A life.

Friday, 12 April 2013


Yes - we hear
your request.
But please,
be a little
more precise.

Tell us the
exact nature of
your complaints.
Tell us the
exact circumstances of
your calamity.

there's little
we can do.

Or not do, maybe,
until we run out
of not doing.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

On the day Maggie came to power

I was oblivious to what it would mean. Sixteen. At school I fought with the teachers and tried to avoid the O-levels looming just ahead. And in the evening, we went to Barbarella's. To see Iggy Pop. Crunching over broken glass, and lifting feet stuck to carpet with beer and ash. Broad Street before it was redeveloped. No go canals full of trolleys and dead dogs. A ragged dirty city, where men tumbled out of The Antelope on a Saturday night and threw up beside bus stops where grannies in their Sunday best would stand on their way to church the next morning.

We took the night bus home - May 4th, - and sat upstairs, smoking, joking, as people stumbled their way off the bus. Tight drainpipe jeans. Men's jackets from Oxfam. Remembering Iggy Pop pulling down his trousers to his knees and waving his penis at the crowd.

Monday, 8 April 2013

One, Two Magpies

April evening
One magpie, right to left,
Flying low across the road.
One for sorrow.
Moments later, another,
Right to left again.
Two for joy? Or one sorrow
After another?

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Ready to spring

Between Holywood and Wicklow Gap at 7pm on the 5th of April
A cold spring. More like winter, really,
with a bitter wind, biting at your face
and hands. But spring it is, and the
day still bright at seven in the evening, and the first daffodils bunching forth alongside hedges on small country roads. Spring. And the coat-tails of winter still clinging to the mountain tops.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

10pm exactly

It's 10pm exactly and
the day roars through my ears,
and all that was done,
and all that was undone
fly past,
as I sit, listening
to Ruth playing the piano
and sit waiting
for Andrew to come home

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Welcome Felix

Suspended like a dew drop,
at the very tip of a blade of grass
bent towards the earth,
Felix slips into this world,
and into his mother's heart,
and into his father's heart,
and into their arms.

Sweet baby boy.
after love
after love
conspiring to bring you here,
as you slide gracefully
to take your place
in this world.

(7lb 9oz, Felix arrived at 7.22 today to my darling cousin Janina)

Monday, 1 April 2013

Siena morning

There's a man hanging washing in the small garden under our window. He's wearing white trousers, a jacket and a flat cap. He slowly pegs a black shirt onto the line, then turns and goes inside. Small leaves and pebbles crunch under his feet, as the sun works hard to break through the clouds. The black shirt flaps gently in the breeze, and small leaves drift around the garden. All is well.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Can I be
Someone who holds
The reins of life
Can I watch
The sun rise
Over the mountains,
Then go to work,
And do
What needs to be done
Without grumbling?

Can my heart sing?

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Baby Dragon

There's a baby dragon asleep
at the foot of my bed. He's
harmless for the most part,
but you need to be careful.
If roused too quickly, he can
snap, with his small mouth,
and his two rows of small,
sharp teeth. He got into
a tussle with the dog, and
took the dog's ear clean off.
He's a pale, silver-blue grey,
and tucked up asleep looks
sweet and quiet. Who'd keep
a pet dragon? We would,

Friday, 29 March 2013


Hundreds and hundreds of years.
Thousands and thousands and thousands of people. People inhabit the walls and the stones, people who's lives we can't even begin to imagine. City states at war with each other, century after century, marching their tired armies over the same vineyards and olive groves, over and over again. Mighty buildings, five, six storeys high, built maybe five, six, maybe seven hundred years ago; still standing. Still lived in. And half of Siena's magnificent cathedral, uncomplete since the middle ages, construction halted at the recession brought on by the arrival of the bubonic plague. Half built walls still standing, now a tourist feature in their own right.
And how tiny a pinprick in all this history are we?

Monday, 25 March 2013

To not think

Permission. To NOT think.
To not send my thoughts
racing and darting,
now this way, now that.
To not cover all angles,
not see all risks,
to not pull a world
safely together.
And again,
to NOT think,
instead sink
into sweet

Saturday, 23 March 2013

FIREWORKS (acrylic on canvas)

Plateau, platypus, peace

What's constant?

Pressure. Activity. Stress.

What's rare?


Spit spot.

Chasing the money.

Spit spot.

Irritation. Exhaustion.

Feels like war.

Spit spot.

Here's a plateau.

Spit spot.

( no reserves )

Plateau, platypus,


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Stone. Water. Reflection.

Less than half an hour from where I grew up, yet I didn't know Baddesley Clinton existed until I stumbled upon it on a country drive, in my early 20's.

Then I forgot it all over again.

Nearly thirty years since I last visited, I saw, by chance, a sign for Baddesley Clinton, as I drove with my mom, heading for lunch on her day out.

Walls and a moat that have been standing for hundreds of years. Seeing power rise and fall, seeing people come and go. Seeing money come and go.

Is there life in inanimate objects? Do buildings carry memory? These buildings certainly FEEL as if they do.

And the message I heard?

After the turmoil, this still remains. Stone. Water. Reflection.

A drake rises out of the moat and lands on the path beside us. The bookseller sets out his stall. We walk slowly, part way round the moat, and then back. It's far enough.

Stone. Water. Reflection.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Travelling through the void
Dreams of birth. Dreams of death.
We travelled at the speed of light through a void, colours and white, swirling. All bright - no darkness.

We arrived back in a world just like the one we'd left, except that all trace of our existence had disappeared. Is there a mistake? I asked death. No mistake. I want to go back, I told death.

So he (and it was a he) took me back, to a world full of snow and danger. A world where I had to be wily to escape danger, on a dark night, in a dark place, in the wilderness.

Death and birth. Birth and death.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Knots in a handkerchief

Tales told, stories carried,
carried in the folds
of a handkerchief,
pushed deep
into a pocket.
Carried in the knots
tied into the hanky.
One knot
for each thing
to be remembered.
Pulling out the hanky,
fingering the knots.

Friday, 15 March 2013


After midnight
Each time we reach out to hold - a person, an animal, a situation - we are in turn held ourselves. Held by something bigger than we are ourselves.
And holding becomes the gift we bring.
And holding becomes the prison we bring. So we must learn to hold loosely, with the door wide open. And in turn, to experience being held not as a prison, but as a liberation

Thursday, 14 March 2013

for want of connection
he walks beside a
bluepink ocean,
dark moon hanging
in the sky. for
want of connection he
follows his blue path
and gazes
with hungry eyes
at the world.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

In my house on the right bank

After I've crossed the stepping stones,
(boulders more like),
and crossed a river in full flow;
after I've jumped fast
over the last rock,
(which is fully submerged),
and walked uphill
across the meadow
to the house on the right bank,
I find the little niche where I left it,
just to the left of the entrance door.
My object of pure potential.
My small, smooth, white, round stone.

Entering the house,
(and after washing myself
clean of all anxiety)
I find a staircase
that wasn't there before.
It's unassuming,
a simple, straight stair.
The landing runs in two
directions, and I move towards
the back of the house.
Here's a door. Open it.
A big empty room,
an uncarpeted timber floor.
In the space, two things
A wooden sideboard,
and a wardrobe, with a veneered
wooden door. Which holds the answer?

I open the wardrobe door.
At the back, a flight of
granite steps lead me
up a long dark tunnel.
There's light at the top.
I come out into a sunlit pasture,
with big trees, (oaks and chesnuts,) swaying around the edges.
And I laugh to know
the answer is so simple.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Nearly gone

The light of today is nearly gone, though a last bright glimmer remains. Time to reflect. Time to atone.

Atone: For all the wrongs I've done in these brief few hours since I woke (losing my temper, shouting at the kids before school.....and the rest...) - and then the wrongs I've done to myself - (working straight through lunch, beating myself up over all the things I haven't finished.... and the rest....)

And reflect; - how strange that all the technology is responding to the stress and strain in the air around us. Strange technology glitches all around for the last few days. Things inexplicably not working. Bizarre delays and the disappearance of functions.
Big thanks to the man who listened to my complaint, brought up a big bag of goodies to the house "for my trouble". Big thanks to a world that is throwing work my way, notwithstanding the challenges it brings.

The last glimmer of day is gone now. All dark. Time to rest. Time to repair.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Years passing

Tangled branches


Not wiser

Friday, 8 March 2013

Reluctant to rise

It's grey today, and cold, and windy, weather that makes me reluctant to get out of bed. I'd much prefer to stay snuggled under my warm quilt, and forget my Friday workload.

But I'm remembering the series of beautiful sunrises a couple of weeks ago. And I'm remembering to be grateful that I CAN get out of bed.

To be grateful I have children to prepare for school. To be grateful I have animals to care for. To be grateful I have work to go do, and clients who will pay me for that work.

To be grateful I have breath.

Imagining a bright sunrise, I reluctantly rise to Friday.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Yesterday evening, I attended a wonderful beginner's silversmith course, run by Adam King ( ).

I felt dreadful on the way there. I've been sick for a couple of weeks with a low grade chest infection, and the thought of heading out in the fog and rain to a "class" was NOT enticing!

The three hour workshop flew by, and was great fun. Everyone finished a practice piece in copper and a small silver locket. Adam's style was gentle and unpatronising. I was interested to hear of his career shifts, from surveying, to architectural model making, to construction to jewellery making.

Surprisingly, I arrived home less tired than I left, and slept soundly and well.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

More than enough

I have at least six pairs of boots. Really. What on earth do I have
to complain about? In my wardrobe
enough clothes to last me until
my last breath on this earth. So much
plentitude, and still we cry "not enough!
not enough!" More than enough.