The Return of the Muse
In the silence of the midwinter day
I turn to this poem for shelter
a beehive hut, a floating island.
I walk into this poem through the countryside
that is a landscape of bare fields
and murky hedgerow.
On the road, behind a bend,
an approaching horse clips out
a four-beat pattern of clip clop, clip clop.
A well wrapped up girl is the rider
and to me she is Niamh returned
from Tír na nÓg. I am so glad to see her
with her bright hair as welcome as a candle flame
on the solstice. Dogs bark as I pass homesteads
they protect. The hearth will burn fast in the darkness,
the goddess dance like a dervish,
the spirit invoke incantation in tongues.
She tells me to leave the prison of night,
to realign the soul to its purpose,
to venture again on the sea of innocence,
to rewind time’s spindle to what is true,
to remember and remember and remember anew.
In the dawn the phoenix sails eternally,
amber and crimson his sunrise plume.
While the nurses strike
I think about Plath’s
Poppies in October,
particularly the lady in the ambulance
whose heart is being treated.
I also think of the poet,
the tenterhooks of her sanity,
how she is saved by writing
those images which haunt her onto paper.
Who are the keepers of sick hearts
and who, if anyone can cure them?
If held and cradled in arms would they feel better?
Is it true that time is the healer they say he is?
Does he wear a white coat and a stethoscope?
Doctor Time? Is Nurse Forgetfulness his aide?
And yet there seems those who cannot be saved,
the delusion that death and endings
should not be welcomed,
when they may be remedy.
My chances are coming to surf the sea,
to float on the river, to skate the ice
to stand in the storm, to be the dot
in the yin, and the yang,
to test the strength of balance,
the survival point of life.
A Bowl of Soup
While sitting in the Weight Watchers class,
a tranquil den in the city centre,
the leader asks what our guilty pleasures,
our comfort foods are.
Some say crisps, chocolate, wine!
I think about it and when asked, answer:
“Cheese, a cheese sandwich or a cheese toastie!”
I remember ten-year-old me reading Heidi,
now realising Heidi is responsible for my love of cheese.
Her grandfather in the Swiss Alps
was always toasting goat’s cheese for Heidi.
So of course, since Johanna Spyri made it sound
so delicious, I had to try it!
Slowly I acquired the Calvita taste, relishing
how it tasted better melted, browned beneath the grill.
I ran freely up the green, steep Alps with Goat Peter
and my best friend, Clara, to grandfather’s house.
In the WW world we are encouraged to choose soup
as our guilt-free, pleasure experience.
I half fill the pot with water, throw in 2 onions,
2 cloves of garlic and a stock cube.
I wash, peel and chop 3 carrots, 2 sticks of celery,
a potato and half a red pepper,
all of which I add to the bubbling mixture.
Lastly, I pour in a tin of chopped tomatoes
and season with salt and pepper.
After simmering for 30 minutes I blend.
I ladle 3 scoops into a large bowl,
admire the orange-red colour, the steaming vapour,
the orgasmic burst of flavour on my tongue,
think, “Please Sir, I want some more.”
La Complainte de l'Oignon
Every few years another layer lost
and it makes me sad, peeled in the kitchen,
to know I am losing this game of host,
trailing myself in serial friction.
It might seem like a joke but far from that
I knew a girl once whose heart was broken,
who could not get over the caveat,
empty promises shouldn’t be spoken.
Added to this how life moves suddenly on
how could she know the wisdom of onion?
In time’s passage we go back to the core,
go back to the seed, frail child of before.
So surround yourself with a brown, thick skin,
realise she who holds the knife will win.