I came across this gorgeous rosebud recently: a vivid splash of colour on an essentially monochrome day.

single flame-coloured rose bud
The weather had been erratic and I was sure there would be a storm within a few hours that would destroy the flower’s perfection; I wondered fleetingly whether the house owners would miss it if I “removed” it before that could happen. Instead, I settled for taking pictures.
Continue reading “temptation”

before breakfast

View across a lake with Queen Ann's lace in foreground
I went for an early walk today. Like the lake, the day had an umbelliferous edging. It also had moon daisies, above and below.

Continue reading “before breakfast”

time and distance

close up of mediaeval wooden timber

I have been sorting out papers and have come across a few poems which seem to have slipped through the cracks when copying from one computer to another over the years: I don’t have copies on the current laptop, and I don’t remember seeing printed copies recently.

I haven’t exactly forgotten them, though, as the title or first line is enough to trigger almost complete recall of the words. This is why I find editing and revision so difficult: by the time I commit the words to writing, they have become fixed in my mind.

When I came across Cousin Grace it was like seeing a familiar face – albeit one I feel could do with a make-over:
Continue reading “time and distance”


On a recent walk, I saw a squirrel dart across the path and run up into a tree. When I looked up through the bare branches, I could see his tail splayed wide – presumably to give him better balance – and was struck by how closely it resembled the catkins of the pussy willow.

pussy willow catkin/flower
Continue reading “re-writes”

drafts and re-drafts

scarlet seeds of iris foetidissima
all alike; all unique
Years ago, after talking to the Catalán poet Joan Margarit, I wrote down in my notebook:

Form, metre, rhyme etc. are superficial elements of a poem. What gets translated is something more essential.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about poetry translation, and I’m trying to work out what that “more essential” something is.

It’s clear – to me at least – that the complexity of poetry, its inherent weaving of different linguistic techniques, makes it impossible to translate everything: the only way to get an exactly equivalent poem would be to repeat the original. (At which point, it is probably relevant to mention the Borges short story Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote.)
Continue reading “drafts and re-drafts”

serial poetry

Currently, my mind seems as empty of poetry as the teasel head is of flowers. But I am used to the emptiness, and the idea of “writer’s block” is not something that particularly bothers me.


Recently, a friend said she would sometimes take “as long as eleven hours” to write a poem. She is a skilled writer, with many small prizes and multiple publications to her credit, so this clearly works for her. But her writing seems to be more methodical than mine, and I gather that she works on each piece diligently until it is complete before starting the next one.

This is not at all the way I work.
Continue reading “serial poetry”

clearing away the clouds

wispy cloud in blue sky

First kiss

It’s there in the air between them.

As hands sketch fragmented curves,
fingertips graze its surface.

They worry it with words,
map points along the borders.

Their tongues taste the edges
of possibility until they find its shape

in the space where their lips meet.


I came across an earlier draft of the above in a stack of papers I was about to throw away, but I can’t find any trace of it on my computer. I don’t think I’d deliberately discarded it, but it definitely needed work.

There’s still a way to go, but it’s given me something to think – and write – about.
Continue reading “clearing away the clouds”