Sunday, November 18, 2007

By Chorlton Brook

The leaves wave to me,
gently, insistently,
the wind caresses me,
softly, so softly,
the rich soil clings to me,
asking me to linger longer,
the water on its ceaseless journey
calls to me
the birds ing for me
the raindrops bathe me
the swaying branches reach out to me
and if I allow, they stroke my face,
and endlessly repeat for me
you're not alone, you're not alone.

Labels: ,

A daughter of this house is married

She is my precious jewel
her beauty shines among other women's
her clothes hang with elegance
she walks with grace among the throng
her silence speaks clearly in the crowd
her eyes match the softness of her voice
so look after her

Hard years have followed hard years
in the bleak years empty of hope
she persevered
with quiet faith and dignity she endured
she survived the crossing of the deserts and the seas
the borders and bureaucracies
to bring herself here today
so look after her.

A daughter of this house has got married. She has been refused by the Home Office, but life continues. She is not allowed to register her marriage, but she did not marry in order to get their precious papers, their permission to live; she married to make her life, trusting that things will work out, as I believe they will. The Home Office does not have the power of God over us, nor are their laws more worthy are respect than our morals.

She has no father or mother in this world, and so we are her family now, and a great privilege it is. She is missed in this house, but she knows she will always have a home here.

At the wedding reception, I was seized with the realisation of the movement of the links of the chain of generations. I have seen enough Habesha wedding videos to recognise the traditional songs and dances and the choreographed sequence of events that represent the passage from daughter to wife, from girl to hopefully mother. Each generation alters things slightly, and allowance has to be made for changed circumstances in a new country, without those that should be present. But still there is something timeless; it is a privilege indeed to participate, and yet I also feel sad: people move on, and maybe I am left behind.


Friday, November 16, 2007


The land of chalets and flats and mountain huts,
forests and rivers and valleys and such,
small dusty towns, villages lost in mud
in the land of snow and blood.

Summer and winter the war burns on.
The spring rivers rise
bring bodies with no eyes
in autumn they dry
the long-rotted ones arise
from their beds in the mud
in the land of snow and blood.

With hot rage and cold cruelty the men fight on
Revenge and anger and cold calculated killing
The red-and-white checks and the Chetniks are winning
their dead far out-numbered by our million civilians
trodden like the grass of the fields
once rainbowed with flowers
now lost in the mud
in the land of snow and blood.

By hunger and fever this war is won:
in burning ice and in blazing sun
people forced to choose sides are driven from home
to countries so like and unlike their own:
fields of bones in the mud
in the land of snow and blood.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 09, 2007

Omar Khayyam

Just bought a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam for three quid from the Oxfam bookshop in Chorlton - beautifully illustrated, and somehow come into my hand after being printed in Iran forty years ago. The poems are in Farsi, with the very free interpretations of Fitzgerald, and more literal translations into French and German. The German's not a lot of help to me, but the French helps me to decipher the lettering of the Farsi.

It's a really beautiful book, and is helping me through a difficult patch right now.