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

Friday, 21 March 2014

spring equinox poem 2014

I've made a commitment to myself to post here poems for the solstices and equinoxes; partly kept together by my commitment to another poet at each quarter date. So – here it is; though it has to be said my well feels a little low at the moment, and that's OK.

As in the turning year, there are cycles of course in everything, inner as well as outer, and my own cycle of creative inspiration in its poetic shape seems to be about 3 months. Right now, I'm at its nadir. This is a time when I need to fill it up rather than empty it further.

This is, I suppose, an apology for a poem that feels uninspired and rather squeezed-out. That happens; and that has to be OK too.

Good job I have others I'm rather more pleased with, given that I'm reading at the inaugural Teignmouth Poetry Festival tomorrow. (Have I already tried to bribe you with the rumoured tea and cake?)

Tonight I have the job of transporting Brian Patten to his opening gig there.

I've never forgotten his kindness when, about 16 years ago, I was 'support act' for his reading at Exeter Phoenix. I was unknown (not that I'm much better known now!) and also unknown to him. We were sharing a drink at the bar, when the tannoy announced that it was time to take our places in the auditorium for 'Brian Patten's event'. Brian slammed his glass down, marched out of the bar to the front desk, and asked them to replay the message but saying 'Brian Patten and Roselle Angwin's event'.

Here's the equinox poem:

Spring equinox 2014

New young sun. The onion sets are in,
bean, brassica and leek are building up a sweat
in their glasshouse home, and the garden
smells of ocean with its many loads
of kelp. And I’ve spoken all there is

to speak of the year’s great wheel turning
without end, of the pairs of opposites
who each holds each in perfect balance
at facing sides of the cycle until
one or other in the end concedes

how earth and sun, darkness and light
chase each other forever in the silences
of space, the way grief and joy are always
intermingled. I’ve made so many metaphors
of this, and of the swift year’s dying and rebirth

how at the place and time where words fail
we have to follow the flower-maiden
into the dark until at last we learn
to swallow the waiting seeds. So now I let
the family of tits in the willow, new spikes of iris

young badger turning leaves
at the margins of the wood speak
for themselves, for me, of how we’re all
connected, and how everything
dissolves and is remade.

© Roselle Angwin 2014


  1. Lovely! I wouldn't say uninspired at all! The young badger turning leaves speaks to my heart.

  2. Dear Roselle, I am grateful for your poem, and grateful that you published it here, despite your reservations - that sort of willingness, commitment, is reassuring to those of us, with far lesser talent or dedication,who hover around a well that is ever almost empty yet still desiring, ever hopeful that the source may reappear to fill and inspire once more...and I love that the beans , the brassicas in the greenhouse, like the poet in her nadir, are waiting without words, breathing in, in the sure knowing that change will come, all steps being taken, the kelp laid.And i love also how as a poet you point to beyond poetry, beyond words to express the inexpressable, and you say it simply, because it need not be complicated...this 'stillness , the dancing'.. and I feel touched by your words, because you so often come back to the essential, the connection, the renewal, and the unending goodness of life itself. I thank you! Hope the reading goes very well : Cx

  3. Thank you, you two, for that lovely affirmation and the kind (and poetic, C) words. It made me look back at the poem and see that maybe it's not irredeemable - we so often can't see our own work clearly. I still think it's not a great poem, but it IS authentic...!

    And Brian P was utterly wonderful, both as car-companion and as poet - his usual kind and modest self, and very funny and simultaneously moving. Very hard act to follow! - With love to both - Rx


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