from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

from the ragbag

I've been neglecting you. I know – I've been neglecting my own writing too. I'm finding myself wanting to be silent a lot of the time; or, more, perhaps, I'm tired of all the yacking everywhere – and I think I'm suffering from a surfeit of opinions (not least my own). Maybe I've been too immersed in the media in general and social media in particular lately?

And there are two deeper threads underneath this: one is my grief in relation to my father's death, which has left me dumb. Although I'm still managing to put cursor to screen for the book of essays I'm working on, I've written nothing creative otherwise since late November or earlier, apart from one poem the day my father died, and one on the day of his funeral.

The second thread is that, like many of us I'm sure, I have no idea how to respond to all the violence and trouble erupting (again) in the world, along with all the ongoing environmental and humanitarian crises. I remember why I used to limit my reading of/hearing the news (I don't watch it on TV as it keeps me awake). So I've spent a lot of time recently on what little I feel I can do in terms of campaigns and causes. 

Speaking of the latter, perhaps you know the latest on Raif Badawi, the 31-year-old father and blogger in Saudi who is in gaol and supposed to be receiving 50 lashes each Friday for 20 weeks, for blogging in criticism of his country's clerics? Freedom of speech is such a privilege, and so few people, relatively, have it. Anyway, last week he was spared from the coming Friday's next 50 as he was deemed unfit to receive another 50 since, grotesquely and unsurprisingly, the last lot hadn't healed. Public opinion via eg petitions from Amnesty may yet save him; who knows. Meantime, 18 Nobel Laureates have written an open letter for his reprieve.


I've also been thinking about listening: really listening, with one's whole attention, without either prejudging, formulating your own response instead of paying attention to what's being said (or sung, or whatever), or hearing what you expect to hear and tuning out the rest. How rare that this is. I realise that although I consider myself to be a good listener there's still an awful lot of me me me and my opinion being thrust in there, wherever 'there' is. So – OK – that's a resolution: holding back on the talking and doing more of the listening. Perhaps. If I can.


In the light of all this, a blog with its opinions seems such a trivial occupation unless it's dealing with Big Stuff (and even then, since it's more opinions – and don't we have enough of those divisive creatures since the Charlie Hebdo day?).

And then I think: well, better to light the tiny candles than to curse the darkness. Remembering a little gratitude to add to the world's store of such things is worth doing to offset the misery, isn't it?


So here's last Friday's sunset across Dartmoor towards Cornwall and Plymouth Sound on a chilly bright day, with the waters off the coast just visible as a smeary gold thumbprint.

I couldn't resist getting out of the car here at megalithic Merrivale, subject of one of my essays and very much a favoured spot of mine.

Somewhere like this time seems to dissolve; it's partly the ancientness of such a site, and partly the lack of urbanisation (unless you count the Bronze Age hut circles). 

I am the breath of this moment's moment.


Sunday. Another beautiful sunny day; frosty and chill though the daybreak was. And we did our now-annual trip to South Milton sands (top two photos, and here below) to collect kelp, washed up in the recent deepsea storms, for our veg garden. THE best fertiliser, along with horseshit and compost; and what a joy to collect it in sunshine, after a breakfast at the Beach-house Café, and with the old dog spelling out uncontainable circles of delight in the sand at a wild speed. 37 bags to go on the potato and brassica beds (Guy Watson of Riverford says that seaweed is unrivalled for adding taste to the early potato crop).

The beach near the rocks was kneedeep in kelp. Kelp is a bit of a wonder plant: not just good for the garden, I take it too to help strengthen my post-menopausal slightly underactive thyroid, and it's great for hair and skin as well. It's supposedly anti-ageing, and sops up free radicals, and look at this list of nutrients: vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E; minerals including zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and calcium (10 times more calcium than milk). (However, if it's collected from polluted waters there is the issue of potentially toxic heavy metals.)

Dog has a little, along with other powdered herbs, in her food ; and interestingly, although she won't eat it fresh, once we've spread the kelp on the garden and it's begun to dry out a little she goes and seeks it out to chew.

As always, it's so satisfying to forage, knowing that our new vegetables will thrive on this free harvest.


I have – what a shock! – tidied my desk today, mucking out over a year's worth of scraps of paper, with the dozens of first-draft poems that so often go nowhere other than the bin. Looking through, I see there may be about a dozen or even more salvageable pieces in there. When I'm not writing poems I fear that I never will again, and this small discovery at least gives me something to work on in the absence of a 'flow'.

This scrap must have been written on Iona, either this year or last; it 'happened' on two halves of torn-up envelope.

For what is true

The island
lies behind the island
though there are moments 
when you might glimpse at least the veil 
become thin as a Communion wafer

just as the man
lies behind the man
though the truth of a human being
is harder still to glimpse

© Roselle Angwin 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive