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Showing posts from 2018

RETURN OF THE LIGHT

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This Christmas I have been aware of how many of us face the festive season with the loss of loved ones in our minds, made more poignant by the memory of times shared. For recent loss these can be difficult days however just as the Solstice passes and the days grow lighter I believe there is hope. The sharp depth of grief is part of the process and with time comes healing. Although they are forever missed, memories can be shared with laughter and their presence among us felt again.This photograph was taken on Christmas Eve in the countryside near my Spanish home. The sunlight illuminating the unseasonally deep carpet of clover and daisy. 
I have added a beautiful photograph of the light taken by my wonderful son in law Jose.
RETURN OF THE SUN
Creeping towards Solstice, darkening days following the glory of leaf fall, hard ground and chill air circling earth rhythms as souls crave hibernation, to burrow down in soft quilts in lulling, soothing sleep, to dream perhaps of change to come.
Instinctiv…

CHRISTMAS 1950

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68 years ago my parents were married in a brief ceremony reflecting the austerity of the post war years. Their marriage was a long and happy one and today I remember them both with love and gratitude. 


CHRISTMAS 1950

How young they were, posed on their wedding day gloved and suited, shy beauty illuminating her austerity grey.
Breakfasted on mushrooms, honeymooned for an afternoon, hand in hand wandering the Science Museum, cream tea in Lyons Corner.
Sneaking back along the railway track, to reach their  dolls house caravan home, mud splashed through fields, so as not to be seen.
Hidden away for Christmas, stain glassed sun casting sparkling light on paper chains as pine needles spiked army blankets on fold down bed.





© 2018 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

MOON BARK

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I was inspired this evening by a beautiful image of silver birch trees on the lovely facebook page 'The guardian of the woods'. It took me back to the garden, where I would wander up the path stopping at the silver birch. Treading over the undergrowth, avoiding brambles and nettles I would lean on the tree and feel its gentle sway as it moved in the wind. 
MOON BARK
The winding path curves stone edged, cutting sine waves though deep shrub, semblance of a green fingered order long lost as nature reclaims the garden, urban space wilding into glorious tangle; spiked brambles coiled like wire wool, whippy grass stalks bolt head high, cruel nettles guarded by velvet dock, spiralling ivy, tendrils curling, 
soft as ringlets in toddler hair.
The ghost child skips by my side,   sailing pirate ship on wooden frame, sculpting oxbow lakes in sand pit, digging cream potatoes plucked from earth like hidden treasure. Trample winter oak mulch to lean together in remembrance, souls soothed by gentle sway of s…

SALT SPRAY

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In a time of political chaos that is causing continual worry as we face losing our European citizenship and rights of freedom of movement to live in peace in Spain, I felt the need to escape the endless news. I am so fortunate to live between mountains and sea and today I let the waves wash away the stress. 



SALT SPRAY
Take me to the shorewhere rocks cleft frommarble veined cliffs, spilling into foaming sealike lumps of sugar in steaming tea.
Take me to the lightwhere star flare whitescelestial sky, sea shimmering like liquid gold, flowing molten from the flames.
Take me to the waveswhere the endless riseand crashing break ofwind whipped surf mists upturned face with salt spray.
Take me to the seawhere ozone air clears

FROM STONY GROUND

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This beautiful Holm Oak is a rare example of a fully grown tree, most Holly Oaks in our countryside do not mature into trees and are more commonly found as spiked leaved bushes. This tree grows out of a metre wide dry stone wall, built from stones littering the surrounding land. 
FROM STONY GROUNDTree and wall grown in harmony,
stones plucked from arid earth,
balanced in hand raised precision,
protecting roots from snuffling
snouts as sounders of boar wait
for dusk to claim the terraces.
Cragged bark emerges from
ancient rock like spiked crocus
breaking free from spring mulch,
Oak parasol gifting green shade to
worn labourers breaking bread
with dust calloused hands.
Traces of their ancestors etched
in stone laid on lichened stone,
but only Oak remembers if the
wall was built around her trunk
or if an acorn sprouted upwards,
crumbling rock to reach blue sky. 



© 2018 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.


IN THE CLOUDS

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Two years now since we left Dad's quiet funeral and walked in the frosty woods, catching falling leaves which blew around us like shining stars. Today whilst driving towards the village,  loss and death on my mind, this angel cloud appeared. Just a cloud but it made me smile and lifted the melancholy. This short poem reflects looking forward with hope. 
IN THE CLOUDS
Wisps of angel white drift in  sky the colour of her Irish eyes, rising between peaks dripping gold with the last flare of setting sun slipping over the Sierra, hilltop homes embraced by feathered wings floating slowly into strong hands, holding me, lifted skywards, forever safe. 









© 2018 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.




LA MARJAL DE PEGO

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Today I walked in the Marjal de Pego, a natural park of wetlands adjoining rice paddies. After days of rain the area was flooded with overflowing ditches and puddled 'caminos'. The marsh is a safe home for water birds but I was surprised to see higher banks turned over by wild boar, the muddied grass churned up and pocked with hoof prints. 

LA MARJAL DE PEGO
Marsh waters ripple as cool breath sways gangly reeds, freeing puffs of downy fluff from sepia pokers.
Egrets wade on straw stilts, snow plumed flock rise in fluttering fan when footsteps near.
Dragonflies flash turquoise in jewelled courtship whilst heron scans, poised in marble elegance.
Glass marsh mirrors moody sky, pierced by low sun as clouds drift through blue to dove grey.
Breeze sighs over fish bubbles, whisper adorned with bird trill, fierce wings flap as heron flies.



© 2018 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.




HEALING

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Another year has gone by without my father. A year of continued loss and sadness but lightened with joy as my grandson grows and my family and friends fill my life with love. I have much to be thankful for. 
It is also a year since I started this poetry blog, inspired by my father. I have posted more than 50 poems and reached thousands of readers.  I have written about my experience of loss and grief, the healing power of nature and friendship, my home in Spain and my memories of England. I have also posted poems on injustice, the right to vote, corruption and inequality, sadly including gender violence. I have enjoyed the process of writing and publishing this blog and hope that it has been a worthwhile venture for readers. 
Today's poem is still about grief but looking forward to a time when the memories will be joyful and the loss easier to bear. Thank you all, I am grateful for the support so kindly given. 
HEALINGI wear my grief like a woven cloak of autumnal gold, leaf stars cling…

SWEET CAROB

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The 'algarrobo' tree is a common site in our Levante landscape. They were cultivated for their harvest of carob beans, once a source of nutrition for a hungry population, later picked, sacked and sold each autumn for animal food. With fewer people working the 'campo' many old trees stand abandoned, unpruned they grow bushy and tall,  still producing carob which fall to the ground unpicked. These are a favourite feast for the wild boar which roam over the hills, down into the village in winter rooting for fallen olives, almonds and carob and destroying farmer's crops. The terraced ground around this old carob tree shows the hoof marks and digging of the boar. 

SWEET CAROB‘Les garrofes’ litter terracotta earthbaked hard before October rains,gnarled, twisted carobs, black as bitter chocolate,sacked in rough hessian, sweet, intoxicating smell wafts through tangled streets, destined to bear the taste of harvest to swine denied freedom whilstroaming boar snuffle fallen fe…

SOUL CAKES

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Having fun cooking on Halloween. 
SOUL CAKES
Kitchen witch stirs the Samhain bowl, soaked hedge berries mixed with nuts of hazel, steeped in warm spice and hot, strong tea, sifted puffs of flour sweetened with dark sugar, whisked with egg lift, candle lit to the spirits of nature and ancestors, each spoon blessed to best serve her beloveds.



MOTHER OAK

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A tree poem to end the week, in homage to a much loved Oak, long may it stay hidden and protected. 
Long days pass without sight of people; I hear them near, Summer sounds, laughing children splashing in pools, humming chatter of families, cars raising dust on dry dirt lanes. I remain hidden, concealed, buffered by barbed brambles  guarded by my progeny, holly spiked  holm oaks circling my secluded grove.
Today she returned once more, this quiet human friend, mother walking with daughter, their hushed words vibrating on the still autumn air, they brush open the brier gate, treading softly on crinkle leaf carpet, stopping to face me, arm in arm, I absorb their awe at my presence.
Deep roots transmit crunched footsteps, the sun caked earth trembling, she pauses to seek whispered blessing, here are the tree seekers, tree keepers, I sense the trust of their gentle touch, browned arms girdle my jagged bark, fingers entwine, cheeks laid close, eyes closed, divine their deep nature as we share heart spirit, tree …

I AM EUROPEAN

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I am re posting this European peace poem in solidarity with all those marching in London today for a vote on the final deal for leaving the EU. I had no vote in the first referendum, I will continue to fight for the right of all UK and EU citizens living in UK to have a vote in any future referendum. 

I AM EUROPEAN

The bomb site was our playground, greened over empty spaces scattered around Coventry where families once lived. Traces of bricks and wallpaper still littered the scrubby grass and leggy pink bomb weed, rubble that shattered down on top of shelters, like the one my dad and nana were buried in for three long days, until Grandad dug them out.
When not being cowboys and Indians we played war games, buzzing with arms out wide like the planes that filled Coventry’s blacked out skies. The peace was recent, still being built in the Europe of treaties and good neighbours, like Coventry’s new Cathedral, City of reconciliation, rising from burnt ruins.
The threat of war between nations,  Europe's hi…

ST MICHAEL AND THE DEVIL

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When I return to my hometown of Coventry I always visit the Cathedral. I find it uplifting, a beautiful building celebrating peace, rising from the ashes of the bombed out Cathedral, its ruins reflected in the magnificent glass wall of Angels and Saints. I always pause to gaze in awe at Epstein's St Michael and the Devil, illustrated here in a photograph by Chris Knight. 
ST MICHAEL AND THE DEVIL
Archangel, Saint, I have come to know you as blessed Michael, a little casual for a mighty warrior, protector of all who callyour name, wrappingwinged cloak around unguarded human frames. 
I find you in hidden churches,in silent Spanish squares,no longer surprised by rubied glass devotion,in roadside crypts garlandedwith faded plastic rose,on a postcard bedside inhomage to Epstein’s vision.
Michael in victory, speared warrior embrace, proud browed, mournful smile, eyes saddened by necessity of devil’s defeat, feathered wing strength,defined bronzed grace,protecting the Cathedralraised from as…

AT HOME IN THE WOODS

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A poem inspired by Autumn, here at home in Spain and my nostalgia for northern woods. 



AT HOME IN THE WOODS
Threading through dark pines, resin fresh on air chilled in mountain’s shade, misting incense of crushed thyme; gaze past tree line to stoned terraces, hillside striped with Levante greens, sage silvered, olive bearing, verdant beryl of ripening ‘mandarinas’ Christmas teasing, yellow flushed fennel sway on blowsy stretched stems, gnomed vines bruised like fallen grapes fermenting on red clay.
Living sense of Spanish presence while loosened mind wanders back to cool Northern woods; jewelled moss slipping, squelch of mushrooms hidden in leaf fall freeing spores of fungal decay, air ripe with cyclical change as damp earth exudes richness of summer humus, decomposing, nurturing woodland as it sleeps; think of lost ones who loved these woods, permeating subsoil, resting deep under oak trees.



© 2018 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.


ON THE BREEZE

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On National Poetry Day I celebrate all the wonderful poets who share their words with us. We respond to poems with individual taste, some move us deeply, illuminate, make us laugh or resonate with memory and experience. Some are accessible, lighter in tone, others written with a degree of technical skill and craft honed over years of practice. All can find a home where they are welcomed and appreciated. This is a brushstroke of my words which I hope find their way to where they belong. 
ON THE BREEZEI free my words to blow far on the breeze taking flight with flocking birds tracing perfect mandalas in migratory haste.
May they find you on walks among trees, by sun kissed seas, mirrored in lakes so still and deep they reflect our soul.
May you feel the love in their making, reverie filtered through cloud lace, to rest where needed, like feathers floating earthwards, in spirals of grace. 


© 2018 Jacqueline Knight Cotterill.  All rights reserved.

FAERY SEAT

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I came across this old tree trunk on a walk near my home. It reminded me of the 'night drives' of my childhood. After waiting for my baby brother to see a train pass at the level crossing, we would drive round the lanes spotting night creatures in the headlights before stopping to see the faery tables, a field of old tree stumps where the woodland folk would eat and dance. This poem is a homage to my parents who gave me a lifelong love of all things dancing at the edge of our imagination. 

FAERY SEAT

Abandoned grove reclaimed as hand of man retreats, Garroba limbs twined with over grown olives, silver blades flashing as wood chimes with birdsong.
Old Garroba, hollowed by years of fruitful giving, sweet smell of carob mingles with pine scent, tree perfume wafting on freshening night air.
Sculptured wood cave, cragged bark lined with woven cushion, sharp needles softened as green fades to shades of autumnal decay.
The shy folk hide in holm oak thicket, watching, chuckling as clumsy boots slip on m…

STORM

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Today I stood in welcome rain, the storm brewing and breaking over the hills.  After months of blue skies we need more rain, the countryside is tinder crisp, the river bed dry stones, the trees and flora thirsting for water. Today was a short burst of refreshing cool and as the season cools and the warm sea holds its heat, we can expect an autumn of heavy rains. I hope they will be good rains, not the destructive force that can affect this area after a hot summer. 
SUNDAY STORMWeeks of summer heat, life adjuststo sun’s rhythm, if not done beforethe fireball starts its westward arc   the toil can wait another day.Heat blasting rock face, geckoshide in creviced shade, green fadesto dusty grey as water leachesfrom cracked, parched earth.I join the creatures, spend daysholed in cool of thick walled cave,come alive at night whenowl swoop and bats flitter.Today the season turned,terracotta chill on bare foot,dawn air fresh like the nipof a dewy, caravan morning.Heat steams from tarmac street…