Wednesday, 4 July 2018

I am water

Wild swimming... aaaaah!

I am water

When the sun is harsh
in the afternoon,
I kneel
to scoop cool water.
How fresh it is
and full in my throat,
going down. I pull it in,
feel the cleanness, the greenness
fill all my cells.

And so this lake reaches for me,
laps me, sucks me,
clasps me into itself,
folds my heart in its currents,
where somehow I will breathe,
move freely, and wonder

Where I come from,
where I will go.

I swim wild in peace,
allow the lake to swallow me.
Tiny fish flicker
around my naked flesh
as water murmurs to me its secret stories,
makes music flow over my body
and into me.

This is my beginning and ending,
my place of depart and return,
the to and fro
lapping the shore,
sipping me,
wanting me more.

            Where I come from,
            where I will go.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Joy in the beck

I've dug up an old poem that maybe says something about the joy of wild swimming, although it's about other stuff too!

Joy in the beck                            

                Over tough rock and through soft earth
                                the river creates her own course
as she runs and rests by turns
                                                from her tiny bubbling source.

                Where the pool of ideas whirls
we are suspended in her being
                                feeling only the bliss of the swim,
                we twist and spin without seeing.

Know the thrill of the stream in flood
 --  deep, dark and endless.
                                Hold faith in her safety as
she falls and bends,  grows careless.

Feel the water-silk embrace,
                                the power of the raging torrent
                                                The river is the breath we seek
as we run in the race of the current.

                                To dive, to swim
                                                to dance in her flow
                 is to trust all the dreams
                                                                we ever seek to know.


Sunday, 24 June 2018

Oil man

Slightly sentimental piece in memory of my Dad, who died 40 years ago today.

Walter Biggs, 27.7.1912 – 24.6.1978

Oil man
No one understood engines like he did.
He’d stand there, listen, and he knew,
he always knew what to do.
He was the car doctor.

They came from miles,
or called for him to come if they couldn’t
   get started.
His large strong hands with hairy backs
could shift the toughest nuts and bolts,
yet with those same fingers
he’d fix the finest needle in a carburettor.
So deft, so sure of his actions.

The best sight in the world was seeing
his legs sticking out from under some car;
or bent-backed, head under the bonnet,
brown overall flapping,
baggy trousers billowing,
feet in slippers (if Mum didn’t catch him first).

The pungent scent of engine oil
 seeped through his skin.
It was the driving force in his veins,
working silently
to make everything work.

He had it all for us:
ignition, timing,
he was our shock absorber,
our brake,
our strength.
The oil in all our works.

Friday, 22 June 2018

After the killing

June 22nd-24th  is the Great Together Weekend – in memory of Jo Cox MP, who was murdered on June 16th 2016. She would have been 44 years old today.
The Jo Cox Foundation (link below) works to make sure that the response to her murder is a rejection of the hatred and extremism that led to it.  That’s exactly why I wrote this poem the day after she died. I’m reposting today in her memory.

After the killing

The day after that man killed Jo Cox
I ate strawberries
for breakfast
because they were fat
and red
and ready with the sweetness of joy.

I walked to the top of the hill
and saw the sea, grey and cold
but breathing, below,
all the while
on its incoming tide over endless sands
rolling always and forever.

I sat on a seat above the beach
in the sun
and emptied my mind
watched the waves –
sheets of steel
rolling on.

I listened to Bach played on guitar
massive concertos
in six stunning strings.

I spoke to a young woman
who I had known when she was a girl
and we talked about her glorious baby
due soon
on some happy day.

I bought a new novel
to read later …
That anticipation
that it is there
the words waiting
for me
when I am ready
this summer.

I picked herbs from the garden –
mint and parsley
and watched the cat rolling
in the catnip
quite off her face.

I saw the swallows
scything over the fat meadow
to gather food
for their young.

And, just to make sure
that you were there
I sent you a text
on a pretext.
Still there.

I read a poem
on Facebook
by a friend
who said
we have to do this
however bad the world is
there is love
and light
and no-one can take that away
from us.

So I wrote new poetry
about love
because that is all there is

and I thought of life
this life
how we
have to keep breathing
over our own endless sands.

This poem was read out at a memorial event for Jo Cox in Canterbury in July 2016, and at Big Get Together events in July 2017 at various venues in England, and on Bardsey Island, Ynys Enlli.

For more info on events both this weekend and ongoing: