Poetry- Anne McMaster

Lost and Found
inspired by Robert MacFarlane’s The Lost Words

You might think we lose these words
as one may, casually, lose a small cool coin
behind the sofa – or as a sweet that melts
into a sticky mass in the corner of that pocket
of our favourite winter coat.

But this is so much more.

We first forget the shape of the word in our very mouth –
that thick curve of tongue pressed against teeth,
pursed lips shaping now unfamiliar syllables
spitting words out like rough, unworn pebbles
only to hear them fall into dead air flat beside our feet.

Then we forget their meanings
– these words that tied us to our moments,
our memories, our seasons and our way of life.
A door quietly closes. A light gradually dims.
Before we know, both the explanation
and the experience – the meaning
and the moment – are gone.

To lose these precious words, is to lose relationships;
stories that should be both our connection
and our currency –
our link to the present and the past.

Share these words even now. Seek to explain and
to understand. Offer them generously to others
like a strange, familiar fruit.
One that blossoms in hidden corners, still.
Taste. Remember.

Waiting for rain

A soft, pressing warmth tonight.
Birdsong threaded
Like a skein of fine gold
through the quietening evening air
now marked by beauty
of a single season’s song.
The air hangs still tonight –
bearing down –
all scent from the hedges,
settles where they grow,
lies limpid. Still.
Only the cushioning hum
of autumn bees, collecting, now,
moves beneath the air.
No leavening breeze,
no movement from the sky.
no coolness next my skin.
No sound to carry towards me now
but the evening paused and still,
heavy with scent.
Waiting for rain.

Evening Fog

October is the month the mists draw in.
These calm and freshly silent mornings settle summer
and draw reluctant autumn to our door.
The evening fog falls low on crop-shorn fields
as rolls of rich, mysterious white seep through the emptying hedges
and fall in ragged scraps of soft, pale mist
that scatter loosely at our feet like something worn.
The animals will walk within this now – a second skin –
shielding themselves from hunter and from prey
while we, preparing for the still, small death of winter’s blast
mourn what is concealed – soon to be lost.

About the contributor

Anne has lectured in English Literature, Creative Writing/Devising, Theatre and Performing Arts for the past 25 years. A professional playwright and poet, her 80 stage adaptations and original theatre productions have toured the UK and Ireland and she has written and directed specially commissioned works for colleges, theatres, health boards, the NI Mental Health Arts and Film Festival and eco-critical community organizations. She was Director/facilitator of Northern Ireland’s first deaf & deaf/blind theatre company – devising and directing Europe’s first audio-described/sur-titled and ESL/BSL sign-language supported production My Hands, My Heart (2013) performed in Derry/Londonderry and Belfast. Her poetry has been published in literary journals in the UK, Ireland and the USA. She is now a freelance arts practitioner and editor.

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