Like so many people, across the world, I was shocked and saddened by the images of this famous and beautiful building being consumed by flames. Forest fires can cleanse and purge, regenerate. Maybe President Macron’s pledge to rebuild will materialise. I hope so. But the building is so much more than that. It is a collection of memories, stories, hopes and fears, intrigues, plots, births, marriages, deaths and funerals. For many, a house of God, for some, a box ticked in the tourism guide, and for all, a centre for humanity. So this, in memoriam….
The building falls
Enflamed at the last,
The spire, hunch backed, then broken.
The world exhales,
A collective gasp,
A sob, a tear,
The siren shriek.
A fiery breath roars skywards.
What’s gone from here?
An icon, yes.
A feature, a show,
Somewhere for hordes of tourist to go,
The chatter, clatter, camera whirl,
Babble, rabble, rainbow guided swirl,
Notre Dame, an oasis perhaps, in this,
Our restless, curious, irreverent world.
(Believers came here too. Who knew?)
More than this though,
Sparks stumbling the night sky,
And thus, atomised
Learning to fly :
The church embattled
Across the years.
As the structure breathes its last
The symbol sighs
The crowds groan, moan, mourn this troubling
Aloft, the smoke belching
Fire fuelled repast
The bell no longer tolls.
The silence is that of the bombed out building,
The ghetto razed,
Au revoir, divine.
Our mutual loss?
The whispering echoes of time.
The hummingbirds are back
And all is well
They flew across the Atlantic with us
They’d sprung from besides the Grand Canyon
They saw us through Bryce, Zion, Salt Lake City
They didn’t know
They travelled in a suitcase
Months later we flagged them up
And they’ve floated serene
Above the Bay, spinning soundlessly
Morfa, Dinas Headed,
That’s where they’ve been.
We’ve been all at sea
Whilst they, dust dogged and long winter bedraggled
Were caught up in decorators detritus
Neglected and unseen.
Indifferent to all the noise and chatter of this troubled globe
We reinstated our duly mobile birds
Fee flowing silhouette
Then sun burst on
Our newly pristine wall
As the chaos continues
The world may yet fall
But the hummingbirds are back
Our slice of the picture sits well
And that’s all.
A Christmas message, from my ALLTIME favourite author!
I would like to wish a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all my friends, readers and blog followers.
2018 has been a good year for me on the writing front, with lots of acclaim for my wartime LAVENDER ROAD novels, and several of them hitting the best seller charts. All six books are now out as paperbacks, eBooks and audio books worldwide.
For those of you who have read the Lavender Road books there is still the option to have a go at SLICK DEALS, the adventure thriller I wrote a while back to amuse my husband, which is set in Monaco, France, London and lovely Pembrokeshire where we live. For the more romantic of you there is also THE ART OF LOVING, a light romance set in Germany, which launched my writing career so many years ago by getting me short-listed for the RNA new writer award!
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A good friend of ours, Betty Hill, died recently. We went to her funeral service (as the Easterly wind snapped and bit its way into West Wales) and the following quote, which she had chosen, was shared :
‘Total annihilation is impossible.We are the prisoners of an infinity without outlet, wherein nothing perishes, wherein everything is dispersed, but nothing lost.Neither a body nor a thought can drop out of the universe, out of time and space. Not an atom of our flesh, not a quiver of our nerves, will go where they cease to be, for there is no place where anything ceases to be. The brightness of a star extinguished millions of years ago still wanders in the ether where our eyes will perhaps behold it this very night, pursuing its endless road. it is the same with all that we see, as with all that we do not see.’ Maurice Maeterlinck.1912.
Betty was gracious, elegant, interesting and interested. She reminded me very much of my grandmother. I wish I had known her better and for longer.
This poem is for her, as I imagine her now…
I am a mote of dust, blown in from Saharan sands
A snap of Jack Frost, chilling the way.
A speck of smoke from a long ago liner.
A swallow, skyline skimming, swooping, above Kings Terrace
The bell in the cry of an oyster catcher, keening across Newport Bay
A ripple, as a seal explores Nevern estuary.
I am a hint of perfume, dripping from Skomer bluebells,
A flare of sunset, exploding across Dinas Head
A blade of grass in Llanychaer.
A hint of morning mist as the Berry Hill cows call.
A note in the minutes of the W.I.
I am a snowflake, falling in Edmonton.
A smudge of ink in a secretarial ledger.
I am a piece of clay, fired in ceramic.
I am bold colour, and medieval motif.
I am the turned up corner of a smile on my grandchildren’s faces
A hair on the lion’s head of my son in law
A stroke of paint on Roger’s palette.
And I am
A breath of wind in my daughter’s face, as she gazes westwards.
I am grace sublime,
Sun and star kissed
The silent voice of calm
Of love, care and kindness
Aswim in the universe
I am Betty,
They seek it here
They seek it there
An elusive answer
Maybe even a prayer…
Or so it seems
Who just don’t care.
A 100 years before
Europe completed a War
But some, dared to dream
(Beyond passports and borders
Project Hope and Project Fear
Leave or Remain
The results unclear)
Of a time and a passion
Where all people could fashion
A desire to end up
The same destination.
Whatever your politics
Your strength of conviction
The things that you value
Your own inclination
Let’s hope that our leaders
Can find some contrition
And guide us towards
A reunited state
An undivided, egalitarian
But despite these views
I’m afraid to say
(Judged by the news
Guesswork, bad temper
We are all headed for
The Brexit Blues.
I can only trust
That, we don’t end up
With a terminal case
Of national paralysis.
I had the pleasure and privilege recently of meeting up with Stewart Bartlam, a long standing friend of Helen Carey. Stewart and I have got to know each other well, in the virtual world, and I have become a great admirer of his poems.
And now he has released a book, ‘The Bunuel Martini’. And we have got a copy. And I can unreservedly say that there are some very fine poems within.
I/you/we can buy it from Amazon or order it in book stores.
And Stewart can be found at http://stewartstanzas.wordpress.com
Please do try his poetry – I feel sure that you will like it. A lovely man, an excellent writer.
We had a holiday in Crete a little while back. The sea and sky were as blue as can be. The greens were equally intense. The kingfisher combined all these colours. The sunsets bled into the sea.
Helen and I met on a Greek Island, Kythira, when she was teaching creative writing. I was one of her students…I came home with the First Prize.
Helen Carey, this one’s for you.
(Oh! And hats off to Homer too! And a muted apology to the writer of ‘Grease’)
IN CRETE WE DREAMED IN BLUE
But in Crete the leaves are not yet falling
And I’m bursting with life
Olive grove glad
In the land of the Iliad
We are here
Our 18th year
Greece, the landscape
Soaked in ancient Sage
Washed with Thyme
History beyond belief
And the nearly new
That’s me and you.
In our spring
Kythera was King
Oleander lit the way
Winding down dusted tracks to
The azure blue, Kapsali bay,
Hora above, gleaming alabaster white
In our autumnal , peacocked Crete
Kingfishers dripping jewels in flight
Across the Lake at Agir
Turtles stroke the tranquil waters at Koumas
Now, in the dream dented, honeyed night
My Cretan Queen whispers
“Greece is the word”
And I heard
And I heard