Words that flew like birds

Telemachus slipped out and at the beach

he dipped his hands in salty grey seawater,

and asked Athena.


“Goddess, hear my prayer!

Just yesterday you came and ordered me

to sail the hazy seas and find out news

of my long-absent father’s journey home.

The Greeks are wasting everything, especially

these bullying, mean suitors.”


Then Athena

came near him with the guide and voice of Mentor

and spoke to him with words that flew like birds.


“Now go back home to where those suitors are

and get provisions. Pack them in containers:

some wine in jars, and grain, the strength of men,

in sturdy skins. And I will go through town,

calling for volunteers to come with us.”

Green, green is my sister’s house

Don’t you dare climb that tree

or even try, they said, or you will be

sent way to the hospital

of the very foolish, if not the other one.

And I suppose, considering my age,

it was fair advice.

But the tree is a sister to me, she

lives alone in a green cottage

high in the air and I know what

would happen, she’d clap her green hands,

she’d shake her green hair,

she’d welcome me. Truly.

I try to be good but sometimes

a person just has to break out and

act like the wild and springy thing

one used to be. It’s impossible not

to remember wild and not want to go back. So

if someday you can’t find me you might

look into that tree or – of course

it’s possible – under it.

Mary Oliver, Green, Green is my sister’s house. For B who likes climbing trees, for A in reminding me not to be too good and for my mother in demonstrating wildness when I need courage.


A thousand mornings

All night my heart makes its way however it can over the rough ground of uncertainties, but only until night meets and then is overwhelmed by morning, the light deepening, the wind easing, and just waiting, as I too wait (and when have I ever been disappointed?) for redbird to sing.

Mary Oliver

Russian Easter

As we waited the night air smelled damp and fresh, the scent of the early lilac in the courtyard overcoming the wafts of incense that floated from the church along with snatches of muffled chanting. Just before midnight the church doors swung open and in a flood of colour and candlelight the procession emerged to circle the building three times, chanting.

Gold-coped priests and acolytes swung censers and carried banners and ikons all glowing out from the darkness. We heard a sudden burst of singing, rapturous music and the bells ring out overhead.

Today is Easter Sunday in the Russian Orthodox tradition and so here are some appropriate pieces from Lesley Blanch (Journey into the Mind’s Eye) and the very end of “Faberge’s egg” by Elizabeth Spires.

Three times I kiss you in memory

of that first Easter, that first white rising

and send this message as if it could save you:

Even the present is dead. We must live now

in the future. Yours, Faberge.

TS Eliot “Preludes”

The winter evening settles down

With smell of steaks in passageways.

Six o’clock.

The burnt-out ends of smoky days.

And now a gusty shower wraps

The grimy scraps

Of withered leaves about your feet

And newspapers from vacant lots;

The showers beat

On broken blinds and chimney-pots

And at the corner of the street

A lonely cab-horse dreams and stamps.

And then the lighting of the lamps

Urban dusk with TS Eliot’s Preludes