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

 

 

 

Rorschach Skies

I wrote this today, after waking up to the news of the horrendous and cruel attack in Manchester. Our world is a strange, wonderful and terrible place. A special, beautiful night for me was turning into an unimaginable horror for so many just a couple of hundred miles away, and I was, of course, oblivious.

 

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There were Rorschach skies last night

deep clouds spreading across the blue-black.

I drove the straight way home,

Heart full

As I played in the garden of my imagination.

 

The slick sliver of road stretched beyond the horizon

Headlight smudges glowed through rain

And the sky, the sky

With those clouds spilling darkness

Like ink on wet paper.

 

How was I to know, last night,

Going home?

Those Rorschach skies

I read them all wrong.

Night never comes the same way again.

 

© Vicky Allen 2017

 

I wrote this today, after waking up to the news of the horrendous and cruel attack in Manchester. Our world is a strange, wonderful and terrible place. A special and beautiful night for me was turning into an unimaginable horror for so many just a couple of hundred miles away.

Taxonomy

A new piece. I’m not sure it’s quite finished, but I’d love to hear what you think. I belong to a fantastic writing group but only get along to it very infrequently. Last night was one of them, and I decided to be brave and share it there. I feel I still have work to do on it but can’t quite figure out where that will happen. I’ve read it aloud to myself a LOT which often helps to find areas that don’t flow. Maybe I will come back to it in a couple of weeks and it will be glaringly obvious what I need to change…

 

At first every walk is a silence,

A frustrated blank.

I don’t know the names

just – that plant, that bird, that tree.

 

I classify it all according to beauty:

That flower, an overnight wonder,

I have no name to give it other than love.

 

The birds that explode out of the marsh grass like fleeing exclamations

I can only call them joy.

 

Then there are the trees

Who, like old friends whose true names are forgotten,

Have instead the private joke, the intimate reference point:

lightning tree

koala branch

the trunk that breathes.

 

I eventually learn:

Rosebay willowherb

Little Egret

Wood-sorrell

 

But the old taxonomy remains intact:

Beauty

Wonder

Joy

Love.

 

© Vicky Allen 2017

 

 

 

 

 

For Brother Lawrence

 

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A quick little piece of writing, as I muse again on the life of one of my humble heroes/ spiritual nemeses, Brother Lawrence. If you’ve not read it, “The Practice of the Presence of God” is an extraordinary book, based upon the collected writings of this 17th century monk. He lived a life of quiet humility and service, and the simplicity of this remains extraordinarily challenging and moving today. Hopefully my light-hearted wee response here conveys the affection and the respect I have for his life and legacy.

O Brother, the stuff you said:

God there when you peeled the tatties?

God there when you washed the dishes,

God there when you swept that floor again?

 

How many tatties did you have to peel before you knew that truth?

How many dishes washed?

Floors swept?

 

There’s a tattie mountain behind me already.

And another one coming up,

The dishes are stacking up

Like unhelpful wavering steps to the far-off summit.

And the dirt

Well, it gets everywhere.

 

O Brother

I suppose I’d better get started.

 

Copyright© Vicky Allen 2017

This is how we live: one breath at a time

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This is one of those “I’m not quite sure what this is” pieces of writing. Anyone else do those? It’s been lying around among my drafts for a while, but after a bit of twiddling and paring away I think this is as far as I can go for now. It came, obviously, from a time when I was having a bit of a word with myself about being less afraid to take chances (which is partly what this whole blog business is for me), and from feeling for people I had met who had boxed themselves in with fear.

How many breaths do I take each day?

And how many days have been mine to live?

This is a mere calculation of averages, a simple multiplication.

But how many breaths, then, have I withheld?

How many times did I inhale, not daring to breathe out into that next scary moment?

How many times did I press my own pause button, stop moving forwards?

I’m holding my breath now, chest bursting, lungs straining.

Where do I dare go from here?

Forwards, into possibility beyond today?

Forwards, into danger beyond my courage?

We can’t reclaim yesterday’s breath

But still

This is how we live, one breath at a time

 

Copyright © Vicky Allen 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Threshold

I stand there on the threshold, unsure

Should I knock?

Or perhaps now, after all this time

I can just enter,

A friend, a well-kent face.

 

I hold close the small dawn within:

I am always welcome here.

Perhaps I can push this door wide open,

Step into the warmth,

Remove these shoes, at last.

 

Copyright © 2017 Vicky Allen

 

 

 

The Unfinished Way

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This piece is a “still in progress” work I think, but it’s kind of helpful to see it here and look at it with some distance. Feedback (constructive, kind, thoughtful!) is very welcome always. And yes, the title is also a reference to the “still in progress” status!


I walk slowly

Each step

a deliberation

Somewhere between

careful and carefree.

I pick my pace

A rhythm

of hope

A pattern developing

beat by beat.

I make this way

by walking

Step and pace

Yours to offer

mine to choose.

Copyright  © 2017 Vicky Allen

Moth-dusk

In the moth-dusk

I stand, still and silent

Watching light leach,

Feeling soft air cool.

 

And there I stay,

Longing for the stars

Yearning for the moon

To measure the distance

From my feet to forever.

 

That impossible calculation,

The infinity which holds every soul

Somehow adds up to

This single heart beat.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Vicky Allen

 

 

 

Back to the beginning again

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A long time ago I had another blog called Bring On The Joy, and it was one of my favourite little worlds to enter and explore. Then a day came when I suddenly stopped. It was as if I’d said everything I wanted to say, as if it were just time to move on. I didn’t consciously stop, I just…didn’t carry on. Days went by, then weeks, months, years. Until now.

So here I find myself, about to enter that singular path once more. Like a labyrinth, writing is a world apart and also an exploration of the world within. George Mackay Brown once described poetry as “the interrogation of silence” which feels like a deep truth to me. I hope that my writing and other posts here will inhabit that slender space between silence and sound. Where words are chosen rather than spilled.

If there is any kind of plan at all, it is to have a small space to place some poetry that I have written and to have a window into my modest creative explorations. It is, I admit, scary to contemplate that. But here we go: perhaps courage will meet me on the way…In the meantime, I would love you to accompany me. I think I may need the companionship.