Waiting

 

Whisper it but softly: Christmas is almost here…there is a stillness to be found in the spaces between the panic and preparations. This poem is perhaps a  movement towards Advent-stillness.

waiting

in the deep silence

pulsing between our words

 

waiting

in the heavy dark

laying light to siege

 

waiting

in the lonely ache

lingering behind laughter

 

we wait for Christmas

 

waiting

for silence to reveal

a peal of hope

 

waiting

for dark to yield

vanquished in light’s joy

 

waiting

for loneliness to dissolve

banished in a blaze of love

 

we wait for Christmas

we wait for Emmanuel

we wait for the world to change

 

we wait

we wait

we wait

 

© Vicky Allen 2017

 

 

Advertisements

feathers

 

feathers-e1497452715660.jpg

 

I wrote this poem a few months back, and it has been quietly loitering in my blog drafts for a while, waiting for me to remember it…today seems as good a day as any for it to say hello.

 

 

falling like manna

soft

kissing grasses, moss

with careful fingers

I gather them

 

 

one by one

each

held to mutable light

is a universe of change

too vast to relinquish

 

until all adds up

to a weight of possibility

impossible to carry

the proverbial ton

does not relent

 

mindful of daily manna

spoiling past its span

today I carry

one single feather

it is enough

 

© Vicky Allen

 

 

 

The Way of the Carpenter

Another one from the Beatitudes series. I think this will be the final one I post. (I have another two, but have fallen out of love with them since I wrote and shared them at the poetry reading in Leeds a few weeks back! Does anyone else ever feel like that about their work?)

 

When the carpenter invites you to his feast

there will always be room at the table

for those who are empty and long to be filled

for those who are broken and long for wholeness

 

There will always be space

for the grieving to weep

and the lonely to find friends

 

When the carpenter invites you to his feast

the doors to the house are flung wide, the table fills and fills

and still there is always room for you

the carpenter is always building a bigger table.

 

© Vicky Allen

 

The Way of Lament

Another from the Beatitudes poems I wrote. This one is particularly meaningful to me, and is sort of psalm-like. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”.

 

O Lord

 

I feel your comfort draw close

an enfolding

but I am afraid of it

 

I am afraid because

as you enfold me

you say: “Here. This is your grief.”

 

how I long

to turn away

to deny grief’s embrace

 

how I yearn

to not admit this shuddering ache

to return to joy some simpler way

 

and yet here we are

and here is grief

let us stay here a while

 

and as you enfold me

and as grief unfurls within

finally I sing my lament, released.

 

© Vicky Allen 2017

Breathing space

I am part of a fantastic writers’ group in Edinburgh, and it has been one of the quiet joys of my life to be connected to this group of gifted and encouraging people. We meet most months if we can, share what we are working on and try a couple of writing exercises together. It can be so scary to stretch your writing muscles with others, but having a group that is committed to encouragement and mutual support makes it easier for us all to be brave. Last night we met and one of the exercises was writing a response to the prompt “a favourite space”. After a couple of minutes to think, we then had ten minutes to write whatever and however we chose. The results around the group were diverse, fascinating and wonderful. I wrote this, and to my surprise found that this early draft may have some life worth exploring in it. I plan to work with it a bit more!

 

breathe in

breathe out

slanted sun

warm dust motes

rising

 

paint tubes scrape, squeak

quiet clatter of lids

soft squelch

palette and brush

focus

 

breathe in

breathe out

bristles circle wetly

blues and greens and swirling greys

pause

 

brush sweep

wrist arc

chemical smell

colour flood

forming

 

breathe in

breathe out

© vicky allen 2017

The Way of Peace

I had the opportunity last Friday to take part in my first ever “proper” poetry reading, in St Edmunds Church, Roundhay, Leeds. The evening formed part of an ongoing art exhibition the church has been hosting around the themes in the Beatitudes, called World Turned Upside Down . The Beatitudes are challenging, subversive, disruptive – and given Donald Trump quoted them in his inauguration, there perhaps has never been a better time to explore what they really mean (and why he is so busy apparently ignoring their actual content in his governing of the US). It was a beautiful and moving evening, and I was overwhelmed by the combination of the art, poetry and stories that emerged. Over the next wee while I’m going to share a few of the poems I wrote for the event, starting today with “The Way of Peace”, or “The Giants and The Birds” (I can’t decide on the title! what do you think?). This poem is in response to the beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God”.

There once was a wall between the world and itself

and giants threw stones

across the divide

that landed in their own backyard.

The sky was divided between the world and itself

and birds might only land wherever there was an olive branch

so they flew forever, hurting for home.

 

There once was a wall between the world and itself

and in the final desperate days

the giants and the birds

wearily wondered about other things.

Like: making a doorway in the wall, pathways to the world

Like: planting olive trees, making a garden

and the world turned, finally finding a way home.

 

©Vicky Allen 2017

Salt Marsh Dreams

img_1521salt marsh

golder, colder

autumn’s retreat

a graceful fade

from fruitfulness

a consoling folding-in

if there are dreams here

they are quieting themselves

wistful with remembrance

salt marsh

flat, fallow

winter’s long tale

of stone skies

scouring winds

razor-rain

if there are dreams here

they are deep below

hidden but waiting

salt marsh

open, hopeful

spring’s offerings

beginning to rise

samphire-jewels

aglow with promise

if there are dreams here

they are starting to bud

breaking through

salt marsh

gleaming, teeming

summer’s abundance

skylark song

proclaiming delight

across the long horizon

if there are dreams here

they are at last awake

exalting and alive

salt marsh

a grace from the maker

in every season

every dream

seeded in small moments of living

waits for its time to come

 

© vicky allen 2017

An Entreaty

In an indifferent universe

shall my voice collapse in the vacuum?

 

I call upon the sky

bear witness to me

I call upon the earth

remember me with love

I call upon the waters

cover me with grace

 

Then all is still

until the wild goose flies

 

 

 

© Vicky Allen 2017

I need the night

I’ve been thinking a lot about light recently, and even did a social media collective mindmap of all of the resonances of that word. The responses were amazingly varied and often profound. Which got me to thinking somehow about how I struggle to sleep as well during the summer time, because it is light for so long here in Scotland (and we aren’t even in the far north). And so, this: a short, grateful meditation on what night means to me.

 

I need the night

blessing and balm

of the softening sky

as the day folds its hands, finished.

 

The soothing weight

across scratchy eyes

a mother’s hand, resting

sounds still to reverent hush

 

Velvety animal-black with

trails of stars summoning silence

moon cycles moving heaven and earth

to bring sleep

 

I need the night

long, dream-hazed, quiet.

How else to welcome

another dawn?

 

© Vicky Allen 2017

 

 

 

Growing

img_0078-1

Scottish Book Trust ran this fantastic public project recently called “Nourish” – you can find out more about it here. I was one of the many who contributed pieces of writing which can still be found on their website. This is the poem I came up with:

 

You fed me with words

morsel by morsel

fledgling food

tiny teaspoons of invalid broth

whetting my appetite

for an alphabet future.

 

At first

I have been told

words would choke me

I couldn’t swallow one whole

a sentence was too-long spaghetti

a paragraph, a recipe for heartache.

 

But you fed me with words

and soon,

because I was famished,

I learned to chew

to taste

to savour the subtle possibilities.

 

One word, two, three

appetite teasers

I needed more, richer, deeper

feasts and banquets of writing

my food, my air

my universe of letters.

 

You fed me with words

and now,

now I am learning

to grow my own garden of delights

where I root in the soil of my soul

and prepare a table for you.

 

© Vicky Allen 2017