Golden Day

Together they lay
on a golden day
flip side of a year
long folded away.

Flanks tight as secrets.
Summer’s finger tips
tickled crickets
to shivering music.

Deep grasses whispered
soft as kisses
and time and sky
reached depths of lapis.

Winter hillside runs dun,
larks are fled.
No insects hum.
The sun draws cloud-drapes
round its counsel.

Past selves
Like pictures of the dead
in a faded book.
Touch their lost faces,
Turn the page.

Cemetery in December

I saw an Angel’s face Greened with tears.

Watched globes of mist lose form

And drip from holly tips.

The wind limped and keened

Between statues and trees

Where moss softens names

Of the no longer missed.

Arms askew, weeping pines

Reached to shuttered skies.

Onyx-eyed crows stood silent.

Sc

aled feet on lost leaves.

Winter Stag

Breath clouds into frigid mist.
Snap of frozen twig
Under finely- turned hooves.

Crown of antlers raised
You pause between beeches
Below tracery of boughs.

And sunrise spills silver
Through your silent church.
King of the winter woods.

~ Polly Oliver 2020

Finisterre

Always a sea crossing
to the best of places…
Those which hummed with magic,
that exhaled gorse and iodine.
Dreams still of clambering anthropomorphic granite;
small feet on jagged noses
of gnarled beings gazing stern
on turquoise horizons
that shifted through navy or grey.
Lure of legends forged in rocky DNA
of glistening isles skirted by time,
and patinated with memories.

~ Polly Oliver 2020

This poem came from a sense of hiraeth about childhood holidays on the Isles of Scilly (a gold-plated holiday now, much more genteel than all those years ago) and Brittany’s magical north west. The nostalgia is as much for lost childhood as it is for the places which still hold their soul when the tourists are gone.

Some thoughts from the viewpoint of 4 and a bit decades into the fray…

Those who know me probably also know that I’m pretty underqualified to dispense life advice!

But it’s that transitional season where the leaves fall and the young move into the next phase, new school years, new schools, college. Etc. And with the ‘noise’ of social media I feel they are under more pressure than ever to perform on every level. So here’s my advice. It may or may not be helpful.

Don’t mess with your face!

The worrying vogue for filling your uniquely beautiful, youthful features with synthetic junk is heartbreaking. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you will only realise just how gorgeous you were from a distance of decades. And more practically noone knows yet what the long term damage this stuff does.

Never compare yourself with others!

You are you, your journey is your journey. Turn away from the images and narrative that would have us seek nothing more than a pointlessly sculpted butt, or the most exhausting Instagram feed and go deeper. Looks, career, relationships…they are just a tiny facet of the big picture that is existing in this universe.

Never, ever judge!

Because life has an uncanny knack of teaching us empathy and tolerance. And you never know when you might need a sympathetic ear.

Do nothing!

Not all the time of course. But meditate. Or just go outside to sit and listen to the breeze and birdsong. Because that is when the real work goes on. The immune system rebuilds, the subconscious pushes inspiration to the surface, your nervous system settles and your spirit steps into the light.

Smile!

Even when your heart hurts. It releases chemicals to soothe pain. There is always a bright side and if not a bright side then a lesson. Even if that lesson is just being able to look back and give yourself a hug for being amazing enough to have got through that.

No regrets!

The fact is you’ll probably drink too much for too long or smoke or do drugs, have unhealthy relationships and dodgy sex. You’ll say and do things that hurt people and you’ll pass opportunities by. But that’s all about teaching us to take personal responsibility, breaking patterns, forming new ones, learning and growing. If we start out perfect what’s the point of being here at all?

Rest!

You’ll get ill if you don’t. Fact.

Keep asking questions!

Stay curious or die (inside at any rate).

Finally…

Make sure you really, REALLY want that tattoo…

Storm breaks

Too full of their burdens,
the clouds’ sides tear.
Veil of tears drops to earth
Washing away the grime of days,
Dashing flotsam down drains.

A pluviophile lies listening
Thrilled by thunder,
Clarion of fresh starts.