Monday, 8 June 2009

Seagulls and Other Things

This was written at Queens Park recently.

Seagulls and Other Things

Seagulls crouch in puddles of white and grey,
dotting the green and sometimes
stealing children's food -

but now they are like statues,
not vultures,
one preening with his scalloped yellow beak
another with a grey beak,
balancing on one webbed foot

this is where he belongs,
no question

He eyes me but I have no food.
In the distance the screech and whir
of the children's playground
and the descending circles of muck
on the pond.

the seagull walks off,
unimpressed, and I remember coming
here when Jude was too young to run
and experienced the green and the seagull
and the pond through his passive senses only

and how my loneliness has dimmed since then
now that he accompanies me
in speech as well as body,

and seems to say he loves me
when he looks up at me,
breast in mouth,
and says 'baby'.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Summer At Last

The summer is finally here, and I finally have time to update this blog! It's been sadly neglected, what with being computer-less for 2 months, then being in South Africa with my son J for a month, and recently simply spending more time in my lovely garden enjoying the sunshine. Our time in S.A. visiting family and friends was a quiet, reflective space from which I returned full of enthusiasm and motivation to tackle some projects that have long been on the back burner - sorting out my filing, for example, but other more exciting things too.

A year ago I ran a couple of writing workshops for mothers, working around themes of motherhood. My intention to start an ongoing group for moms has now finally flourished, and the first group meeting took place yesterday at my house. There were three of us and we hope more will join us soon...although space is limited due to the little ones! We used colours in the room to jump-start a writing exercise, and explored the topic 'I am/I am not', which I've often used myself, as inspired by one of my creative writing guru's, Natalie Goldberg.

It felt good to be part of a living, evolving writing space again, as it's been so long since I attended the Poets Cornered group in Hove, which had been my writing inspiration and support for 3 years. I like the fact that we're all women, and all mothers, as this creates a sense of community and unity, and an appreciation of the issues we all face. Of course it's challenging trying to write amongst the noise and movement of babies and toddlers, but I hope that we can forge our way through.

For now my main writing project is my short story collection, - I say 'main' tentatively, since it is receiving far less time and attention than I'd like - which I began during the First Steps in Fiction course I did a few months ago. Its theme being motherhood, I do sometimes long to escape the very topic and do something completely different. Like return to my sprawling novel about witches, druids and forests...but somehow the huge head space I need to do that work is not there. If it's snatched moments I get, then short stories are more doable for me right now, although it's a form that I'm still learning. I'm writing an article a week on complementary therapies for a website called NHS247, due to be re-launched in July. I'm aching to write poetry again, especially after digging out my old copies of 'Mslexia' (magazine for women writers) and reading some of the prize-winning poets in there. Reading a 2004 interview with poet and novelist Anne Michaels inspired me: mother of two small children, she apparently wrote in the wee hours of the morning, every night - dedication or what!

Unfortunately, I am far less dedicated to my writing, and I do need sleep. Especially as J continues to wake in a similar pattern to a newborn. His talking has come on a long way; his development really spiked while we were in South Africa and everyone saw a big difference on our return. He's now saying short simple sentences like 'Look, there ball' and 'Ball box in', 'helping' with the gardening, and walking around the streets of Brighton pointing at, and naming, absolutely everything.

My yoga teaching has evolved into doing one-to-one sessions rather than classes, which feels right for now. I've been hard at work getting the word out, doing yet more fliers, etc etc. As ever, time for my own practice is scanty, but I'm getting a lot out of meeting with my Kundalini Yoga sangat fortnightly. J now says 'yog, yog' when he sees my mat, and 'joins in' by copying the exercises - he's particularly proficient at spinal twists and life nerve stretch!

My Breastfeeding Counsellor Training, begun in March, is now taking on more speed as I have drafted my first two essays and been busy 'interviewing' mothers at the Hanover Breastfeeding Drop-in about their experiences. I'm very excited and motivated about this path, and find my voluntary work at the Drop-In so worthwhile and moving. To talk to a mother who is struggling to breastfeed and full of the emotion of that, and be able to move with her through the pain and somehow help to contain it, is one of the most fulfilling and inspiring things I have done.