Loving the peonies

Loving the peonies,

I held myself

in question:

how can I be so scared,

when they have

such daring?

The audacity

to bloom in

such beauty

and self-possession.

No delicacy or


but a full

chorus revelling

in the ephemeral.

And yet, not without

wisdom –

there is nothing

hedonistic or


about them.

Foliage of forest green

holds the memory

both ancient and


that to choose life

is to befriend

the poetry of its


That these loving


boundless for a

fleeting moment,

are bound towards

an ending.

And they teach

in their being:

what is more

grievous than death

is to hide in

life’s shadow,

sitting in foreboding,

for fear that endless, ashen

sorrow is safer

than the oceanic fantasia

of living and losing.

And as the

peonies crest,

and their

petals begin to fall,

I sit with my fears,

holding them

in my palms

for as long as

I can bear,

before gently dedicating them

to the pearlescence

of the clouds passing by.

For a few weeks

For a few weeks

a question has

beckoned me,

fluttering around my


I have tried

to tease out

the answer,

sought insight.

There have been

many fleeting

intoxicating clues,

echoes deep

of my soul’s search,

but nothing concrete.

Slowly, I slipped

into a sort of


as the outside world howled

at my door.

I so hate to

squander even

one second of

dearest mythical June;

yet, I was there,

consumed by

whispered relentless


with thoughts

tending towards


mine but not me.

I forgot

at the threshold

of transformation

that creation is



with destruction.

Whilst I still

linger in the quiet

of not knowing in

which direction

my paintbrush tends,

it is unequivocal:

I am reaching an end.

And I have an inkling

that there is much to learn

from early summer evenings;

pink, beaming,

stretching luxuriously

like a puppy belly,

and the quiet, the calm

only broken

by sweet blackbirds at dusk

gifting us to the

beauty of song

and the unmistakable

peals of poignancy.

Before the sweet spring rain

In the shower

before the sweet spring rain,

my body embraced me


And surely

this is something of God?

My addled work-spun brain

tries to explain, explain, explain,

but there is nothing

that can compare

to the rich full-hearted subtlety

of body reclaiming you,

with only my whimpers and tears

as songs of the reunion.


This time,

of light and shadow,

played out

in feathers of

ivory and jet


that found me in the garden

and the bed;

poised are we,

before what we know

and know not what yet.


Moonlight streaks my hair

as I begin to heed

Old Saturn’s teachings;

and though

I am sure world

will ensure I forget,

casting me into rosy sleep,

as it must:

I know.

My body is Great Mother.

She does not need to

only be sought in woods,

creeks and beaches,

although in these she

resides and is embodied too.

She is me.

Neck down,

canyons of hips and thighs,

loving me, gently yearning for me

to remember and know

and receive her secret wild, bloody wisdom.

And so I know the Earth,

And so the Earth knows me.

So help me

TRIGGER WARNING: rape, sexual assault, femicide.

I wrote this poem in a passion of clear, hot anger upon reading about the atrocities committed against Ukrainian women and girls by Russian soldiers. It is becoming clear that like virtually all conflicts that precede this one, rape and sexual violence are being used as weapons of war and that horrific war crimes are being committed.[1] News that leaves me cold, sickened, frightened and horrified, as it always does.

When writing this, I had Ukrainian women and girls in mind. I also had in mind the Yazidi women of northern Iraq and Kurdistan who were systematically raped by Daesh militants; I had in mind the unknown thousands of black enslaved women in Britain, the Caribbean and the USA who were raped by their enslavers; I had in mind the unknown thousands of indigenous women who were raped by colonial oppressors[2]; I had in mind the 61,158 sexual assault offences recorded in England and Wales at year end June 2021[3]; I had in mind the students raped whilst I was at university in Manchester between 2010 and 2014; I had in mind Jyoti Singh, the woman a group of men gang-raped and killed in Delhi in 2012; I had in mind Grace Millane killed in New Zealand; I had in mind Sarah Everard, abducted, raped and killed by Wayne Couzens in 2021; I had in mind Sabina Nessa, Ashling Murphy, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman; I had in mind the unknown numbers of transwomen raped and murdered across the world. All acts of terror and violence committed by men.[4]

I am heartened by news that, as of 2021, the UN has begun to impose sanctions for rape as a human rights abuse.[5] But the anger, sorrow and fear I feel is still so profound. I was unsure as to whether to even publish this poem for fear of it being ‘too much’. But having typed out all of the suffering above, my worry dissolved by my wrath.

I want to live in a world where perpetrators of sexual violence are held accountable. Where I don’t have to worry that a walk to the park on my own could be my last; where my husband and I don’t feel the need to escort teenage girls home at night because they are scared of the men who touched them on the bus; where I don’t live in perpetual fear that such an act of violence could be committed against me and my body, and those of the women in my life.

This poem was inspired by all of the stories above, by my love for my sister, family, friends and beyond. It was also written in response to the tale of ‘The Loss of the Voices of the Wells’, written down by Sharon Blackie in her book If Women Rose Rooted.[6] I am forever inspired by Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.[7] I found writing this poem extremely comforting, connecting and powerful: I hope it speaks to you too.

So help me,

Great Mother,

I would I were

a wolf.

I would rip him,

each and every him

who has done this,

limb from limb

worse than any

frothing Bacchant.

I would have the wind

whisper a reminder

to him discretely

each and every morning

upon waking

with cold, sinister severity:

‘You committed an atrocity’.

And the darkness of night

would swallow you

yes, you

consume you

for one hundred and one years;

the dawn would hold

no hope,

just a pale shadow

of what you have lost

by your own actions,

your own violence.

I know you are not

beyond redemption and restoration

I believe that with all my heart, but

first, I would have you

raked over the coals

of despair;

I would have you

contemplate the horror

of yourself

day in, day out,

crying in pain

over and over again

wondering how


a gift to the world

could become the profane.

No joy from bird’s flight.

No warmth from embrace.

No tenderness from the sea.

I would have you cast adrift

prostrate in the desert

of your being,

to consider the bones of your kind,

the yellow moon

casting you in


as all of Earth’s women

who have been, who are, who ever will be

along all the webs of the matrilineal lines,

the witches, the maidens, the crones, the hags,

all of us queens,

every single one

in our billions,

howl and claw and roar,

rendering you deaf and dumb

at the ancient, timeless horror

that is


And you will know yourself.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/03/all-wars-are-like-this-used-as-a-weapon-of-war-in-ukraine

[2] ‘EmpireLand: How Imperialism has Shaped Modern Britain’, Sathnam Sanghera, Viking Press, 2021.

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/nov/04/highest-ever-number-of-rapes-recorded-in-england-and-wales; https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/natureofsexualassaultbyrapeorpenetrationenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2020

[4] I want to show an awareness here that the rape of black enslaved women by their enslavers created the conditions for violence to be perpetrated against them by white women. Dr Yaba Blay explains in great detail here: https://momastery.com/blog/we-can-do-hard-things-ep-79/  

[5] https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/angelina-jolie-campaign-rape-war-landmark-un-sanctions-b921377.html

[6] https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Sharon-Blackie/If-Women-Rose-Rooted–A-Life-changing-journey-to-authenticity-and-belonging/23812711

[7] https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Clarissa-Pinkola-Estes/Women-Who-Run-With-The-Wolves–Contacting-the-Power-of-the-Wild-Woman/7000774

Day 7 Negative LFT – Part 1

I lifted the

window open

and felt the

wind kiss my face.

It roared yesterday

like my panic

 but now it

softly smooths

my careworn face.

I allowed it to

play with my hair

as I took

careful breaths.

Eyes closed,

I stretch as

I unfold

croaking, gasping,

from places

of surrender,

and the fear

had been so great

the silence so loud

the darkness so pregnant.

Grey duvet skies

greeted me on

the other side.

Nothing spectacular

just gentle and soft

like this budding

trust in this, my,


No rush.

Just step-by-step trust.

Aching pink

Aching pink

sky that mourns

and groans,


drenching world

with admonitions.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

Evergreen nods,

as grief is always so,

flexing her roots

in the marbled


Dusk in

uncanny rose


What more?

What more

Could I have done?

Moon readies

to cast her darkness

reminding in

inky calm

that sometimes

there are no answers

there is just

the sitting and

observing all

that we don’t


the vaulting



that rallies and

quakes with

breathless ice.

Murky pink


a balm of indigo


and we wait.

Flies come.

They hover

and twitch,

low-pitched and frantic

in their desperate


Then we remember

that they too

only yearn

for sweetness.

So, we wait.


Working week

has laid me

on the floor.

And my head


Every crest

and trough

of week’s ocean

and odyssey

has me wincing

and my eyes

cannot bear

any more

harsh blank light.

Questions reverberate,

yapping and nipping

at my bones:

gnawing as I bend,


drag to




is exhausting.

Stomach makes moan

and in my own

ammonite embrace

I yearn for the

sweetness, the space

of silver birches

in quiet wintry confidence

clamouring for

splendid blue sky;

the cerebral

wonder of a

barn owl

in flight,

hauntingly innocent

curious, composed

carving morning’s

gloom with

prophetic white;

labyrinth that

but a week ago

cushioned my feet,

guiding my tears, twists

and turns

through knowing

spirals, as I shed

skins, losses, shames

and years.

So it was.

So it is.

And so,

I breathe,

and space

moves magnificently.


I feel the itch

and scratch of

coarse polyester

grating, sanding

at my skin;

dreams of trying

to take off

into the air

before landing

hard with weight

pressing and flaking;

torrents of

dirty dishwater

swirling, kicking

up the rotten mulch


I hop and

recoil through

my day

as though life

is a hot poker

smarting and cynical.


moonlight beckons.

And I remember

that the veils

have lifted

and I am in

the time

before I bleed.

Wood’s gradient sings.

I cycle along

the ridge of a great dam,

clutching at the wall

and I am the water

the drop



Soft grey


opens her arms

as slumbers of

Forgiveness and Quietude

stroke my hair,

kiss my brow.

I burrow

I listen

I receive

even as ground falters

and I tremble

at the mystery,

gape at the awe,

I feel my

inky wings



and into

moon’s night,

I soar

ready to pore

over the glistening entrails.



potential banks,

meanders and


that flurried

and formed.



did not bind

and bend

and the river sighed:

another course to wind.

The fertile earth

that was lost

became found



but gone are

the shells, and

sweet grasses

and clover

of a

ground conceived.

Footsteps not taken.

Sun and stars

that did not

bathe a time

with blessing and


The silk of




of smiles





amongst the

wistful whistling




Season of

roots and bones;

heart opening

heart breaking

Black Moon

breath taking.

The fleshy

bowls of hips

the Jurassic

curve of spine.

We wind,


in with


and descend

into night,

a rich resolute



divine and


all and none,

materialise, meet.

And we

are here on the floor,



lessons and loves

sinking in,

drawing the blanket near;

whilst down



of Earth, onion and pine

beckon us to the river.

Damp decay


with the

sweet potent


of possibility.