Monday, 14 June 2021

Fairy Tale


The rooster crowed but he did not sound  enthusiastic about his job. Matilda stirred in the still warm straw,  reluctant to get up, but rise she did and went to see if the hens had laid.

Just a few small eggs for her to collect. This had been the case for for many long and weary months.  Not many eggs to gather and the milk from the goats and cows was hardly enough to feed the family. The rest of the villagers fared no better and people were getting hungry and despondent , worried about their crops. The youths and maidens were listless and many were too ill to help in the fields or look after the young ones.  Matilda's friends were wasting away. No women were with child.

The streams around the village where once the young ones would play all day  had dwindled to a trickle.

The children were too scared to go out with their friends as big black crows swooped down on them, leaving many with scratches on their arms and faces. Their laughter and shouts no longer rang through the village.

 No-one gathered after sunset to sing or tell stories of the day , women returned from the market  with wares unsold and the pedlars and bards had long stopped their visits.

The future looked bleak for the villagers.

It was full moon and that night Matilda asked her ancestors  for a healing dream.

An old woman with deep grey eyes, long white braids and dark green linen cloak came to her, joined by a  bright eyed hare with a silky coat.

'You must go on a journey to the Ancient Tree and bring back stories for your people before they pine away and the village is no more' she said.

Matilda was willing to whatever she could to lift the murky pall that lay around the village and rose before dawn.

She gathered some bread and cheese from the paltry store her weary mother had tucked away and crept out of the hut, trusting the ancestors to guide her way. 

No one saw her leave. She passed the ever dwindling stream at the edge of the  forlorn village and felt guided to walk through the woods, on and on she went until she came to a fork in the path.

Should she turn left or right or go straight ahead. She heard a rustle off to her right and caught a glimpse of the  twitching ears of a hare..surely that must be the way.

She walked and walked and came to a cold hearted marsh. How could she cross it?

She felt a shadow by her was the hare..'just take a step' it whispered.'.all will be well.'

Matilda put her foot out and flat white stones appeared in the marsh providing her safe foothold.

And on she walked for miles and miles.

She found a cool and friendly stream and stopped to drink and rest then just as she was about to take a bite of bread a large black crow flew at her, claws outstretched. A hare appeared out of nowhere and threw a net over it, stopping it in mid flight and bringing it to the ground, too stunned to fight.

Relieved and replenished Matilda continued her seemingly endless walk until she came to a huge gnarled old tree in the middle of a cool clearing.

At the centre of this Queen of the Woods was an entrance into the solid trunk, filled with rough stones, dead wood and piles of dried mud.

Matilda set about clearing it all away until she could step inside.

Hare with fur of silk  joined her and showed her how she could climb up the inside of this magnificent tree. She climbed and climbed, pushing through a band of opaque resistance that yielded and allowed her up and out into a whole brightly new world.

The old woman was waiting there at the entrance to this luminous new world.

Matilda offered her some bread and cheese as a gift and the old woman and the hare guided her to a circle of people.

She walked around the outside of the circle passing the story holders of many nations until she came to a young man holding a lute.

He invited her inside the circle and took her to its centre where there was a golden ball of twine.

'Here are all the stories' he told her.

'Take hold of the end of the twine and pull'

Matilda did so, then the young man took her to each of the people in the circle.

Each one told her a story and asked for one in return.

When she had shared stories with each one the young man took her back to the ball of golden twine and cut a length of twine for her then wrapped it around her waist.

'Here are the stories spoken here today. Take them back to your village and speak them to all.

Ask all the elders to share stories from their youth.

Ask all the maidens and young men to imagine stories of their own.

Matilda was guided back to the entrance to this world, where she climbed back down the centre of the tree.

Hare was waiting for her.

She made her way back through the woods , and at long last arrived at  the stream, now burbling and full of children playing.

She heard the men at work in the fields , she passed her friends with a smile on their lips.

She asked the children to gather wood to make a fire to burn in the centre of the village that night.

That night she shared a new story and asked the elders to share a story.

Each night from new moon to new moon she shared a new story and each night she asked the villagers to share theirs, old and new.

As the days passed the women came back from the market where they had sold all their wares and returned home with bread and vegetables aplenty. The men began to make things from wood to sell .

The hens began to lay , the cows yielded more milk than ever before and the rooster woke everyone with his loud enthusiastic crowing at dawn.

No one minded.

The following year many babies were born, and the pedlar visited the village once more- sure of a happy reception with the maidens wanting his ribbons and trinkets and the grandmothers wanting his cloth to make new clothes for the little ones born from the gathering of stories.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Sparrow Party.

 Birdsong in spring hedge

rowdy sparrows partying

just bring your own worm.

Daisy Haiku

 Daisies meadow like

disturbing uptight neighbours

please don't mow them down.

Crow Haiku

 Black crow worm in beak

Gazes meet in the moment

Shared eternity.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Brighton Pierrots

 This is the final week of the 4 week Art and Writing course. For writing homework this week I chose Brighton Pierrots by Richard Sickert.

I did not feel inspired, but I did want to have something to read out, so finally sat down and wrote this morning after an idea finally drifted to the surface.

When I was a young girl we had holidays in Brighton, and that is where I began.

When I was a girl in the 50's my dad would pack  the car up to the roof and drive us down to  Brighton's Sheepcote Valley campsite . Auntie Jean would meet us there with my cousins, Sally, 2 years younger, and Paul, 2 years older. I suppose Helen was there too, but I do not remember her.

One of the things I liked best was when we went to the seafront and there was entertainment for the children on a wooden stage overlooking the grey ocean with Uncle Max sitting on his chair, holding an accordion. We all rushed to the front, frantic hands in the air. Pick me, pick me. And pick me he did.

Once up there on stage , he asked me what I would like to sing. I had no idea but had to choose something on the spot, so I said ''Who's Sorry Now?' (Connie Francis} as it was a song I had heard on my dad's Bush radio and luckily I remembered the words.

When the song was finished I was not ready to give up the limelight, so grabbed the hem of my white cotton shorts as if it was a frilly skirt and danced round the stage. It was so much fun and so liberating I wonder why I did not choose it as a career...although at that age I did not even know that was an option.

What happened next was very strange. Instead of Uncle Max's accordion I could hear the sound of a piano and instead of Uncle Max I could see  a young woman in a pink dress seated at a piano. As I looked out at the audience the sea of excited young faces had gone, replaced by rows of striped deckchairs, with a few sombre faced women in well worn old fashioned hats and world weary soldiers with bandaged heads.

The air still felt cold on my goose pimpled arms, there was still the tang of salt on my tongue and the wooden boards were still gritty under my bare feet.

The sad looking young woman invited me to sit w at the piano and play it with her.

I had never had a piano lesson in my life. We were not that kind of family.

Macmillan's 'You've never had it so good' meant for my family a new car, a radiogram and seaside holidays always the last 2 weeks in August.

She began to sing 'Take me back to dear old Blighty' and I joined in. As her beautiful voice floated gently across the stage and into the hearts of the audience safely seated in the blue and white striped canvas seats I could feel the deep sorrow of the pink Pierrot whose fiance would never return.

At the end of the song I heard the accordion once again, bringing me back to my performance in August 1958.

I looked out at the sea of milling children's faces, heard their clapping, and as I reluctantly left the stage, out of the corner of my eye I saw the pink Pierrot lady waving goodbye.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Man in the Red Scarf

 I signed up for a 4 week Art and Writing online course.

This week the art prompt included Lautrec's poster for Aristide Bruant.

I decided to try an Acrostic poem which included some rhyming as well.

It feels a bit crude, basic, but it is also gratifying to have something on paper.

Aloofness personified under broad brimmed hat

Rejecting others, we all know that.

Insolence pays his absinthe bill

Superiority slicing through your puny will.

Talking down puts you in your place

Irreverent and icy is his haughty face.

Disdain wraps his heart like a long, red scarf

Egotistically he will happily slice you in half.

Boating of his talents and skills

Remote from his fans, their spirit he kills.

Uncompromising about his promotion

Arrogance his sustenance means your demotion.

Never wrong is his standpoint

Take it or leave it, he'll abandon your joint

Monday, 15 March 2021


 Jaw clamped tight on the twist of sisal

Thrown down from the ceiling like the braid of a giantess

Slowly pulled to the pitiless rafters

Over the inferno of voices

No place now for sudden cough or sneeze

Just graceful balletic turns 

In the cloying clouds of thought

Fall, fall you bitch

Let's hear your bones break,

Let's see the crimson blood flow from your skull.