Monthly Archives: August 2016

Cats Love Me

cat

Cats Love Me

you say as we pass one on a garden wall,
a mottled sack of idleness.
But as you proffer a mittened hand
a row of tiny white fangs
springs out amidst the fluff.

Turning a bend we spot a ginger puss
pulled tight across the path
by a squirrel, nibbling acorns, just yards away –
aware of us, yet ignoring us.

We walk towards him
and he holds his pose
making increasingly fine judgements
as we approach.

Now the cat’s dilemma –
to display, indiscreetly, his viciousness,
the bloody side of his nature,
or else to quickly don
the soft known coat of civilisation.

And, at the last moment, he’s there
beneath your stroking hand
wrapping the glad scarf of his tail
around your forearm –

lifting up his face to you
as if he were a proud young prince
waiting to be kissed.

 

This was one of several poems I had published in the Belmont Art Centre’s Poetry File programme for teaching in secondary schools in Shropshire.

Sausage, Chips and Beans

My first proper job after finishing university was working for an environmental charity in the South Wales valleys. We worked on a housing estate called Fern Hill, undertaking practical projects such as tree planting and fencing. We worked in all weather, and it was always good to get a hot lunch in the local community centre, where this gentle incident occurred.

Sausage, Chips and Beans was published in The New Welsh Review (no. 27, Vol VII / III).

Sausage, Chips and Beans

The four old women
in Fern Hill Community Centre
start to shake
their glass salt cellars.

Salt up, salt down
salt up, salt down
back and forth
across four sausage, chips and beans.

‘I like my salt,’
smiles one, ‘You do,’
says another, arms
rocking in unison.

I am still watching.
Some dots of white
fly outwards, bounce
and slide on the blue formica.

When they have finished
I ask one
to pass the salt
if she wouldn’t mind.

I spin it quickly, once,
over my chips,
watched by four sets
of bemused spectacles.

The real “Garden of Rooms”

I have already posted about the amazing ‘garden of rooms’ in Herefordshire that inspired The Secret of the Tirthas here. Now there are two more books out, I thought I’d share a few more photos of the garden, including some of the rooms that feature in those books.

22_DSC0010ABOVE: The Wedding Cake Tree in the real Miss Day’s Garden. I’ve no idea who the real Miss Day was though – there’s no clues on the Garden’s original map, so she remains a mystery. In The Book of Life this garden is overgrown, abandoned by Evelyn Hartley when her cowardly brother fled the World War One draft through the tirtha to Louisiana.

P1010172ABOVE: The view that inspired the scene when Lizzie looks out of her bedroom window on her first night in Rowan Cottage and sees the criss-crossing hedges in the moonlight. The garden right below her is the Sun Garden.

P1010078ABOVE: Two South American gods who haven’t (as yet) featured in the stories. And BELOW a photo of them as they are now in a different garden – always pretty glum, but now somehow glummer!

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BELOW: The Rill looking up towards The Tower – this place is going to get a lot more important later on.

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BELOW: Excerpt from the original list of the Garden Rooms. The Edwardian Path features at the start of the forthcoming book, The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask. The Gothic Garden will come into its own soon, too.

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BELOW: The plan of the whole garden is on the first post I mentioned above, but here’s a detail of the Sun Garden and area beyond. It includes the Gothic Garden, and the site where I imagined the Indian Garden.

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BELOW: As I wrote in my previous post, the garden has sadly now been mostly grubbed up. Here’s one of the rescued Easter Island heads (the middle one, I think, that Lizzie jumped on to on her way to activating the tirtha…)

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BELOW: Some of the garden’s lovely flowers and trees

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P1010060And finally me, working on the first draft of The City of Light in the garden.