shelf scene

a shelf scene - textile art 'C' by Jude Hill / Spirit Cloth - clay pot in background is by Diane Fayt  - the jug to the left is one I made for myself earlier this summer. I don't have many artworks and pieces by other artists (living on a tight budget I can't buy as much as I would like) but the things I do have are very much loved. 


It has been a particularly fine and mild September. I am sat typing this looking out at a blue sky with red rose hips glowing in the sunshine. Yesterday a friend and I went for a long walk in local woods and parkland, weaving our way around the first signs of autumn. As we sat and looked across the land (for a moment our land) I had to say just how green everything looked just now. Give it a few weeks and there will be more golds, browns or designer shades of russets. As we walked I picked up beech nut caps, still green and very prickly! Of course, when I got home and unpacked by bag I had forgotten and about the prickles and got a sharp reminder. I don't remember seeing many of these as a child, conkers were more our thing ( I grew up in suburban outer London, with trees but not so many) and I would collect them until my coat pockets sagged, but I never really knew what to do with them so would empty my pockets somewhere, eventually. 

Mornings now are chilly and days are getting shorter. I can't say I am looking forward to the darker, longer nights - but does anyone?

It has been a good September and I am very grateful.


This week I have continued to read John Burnside's latest collection of poetry and would recommend - any of his books. I have been dipping into his previous poetry collections also. I have also been reading The New Yorker magazine. I have enjoyed getting the occasional copy of this for many years. It's one you can find in London and main city railway station newsagents here in the UK, but of course you can get a subscription. When I saw a flash summer sale on subs: just $12 for 12 copies and delivered to the UK - I could not turn that offer down. The latest issue has a mix of interesting articles - I always enjoy the cartoons and poetry. 

I have also started to re-read a Barbara Pym: The Sweet Dove Died. One Saturday I will write more on Pym, because she is a favourite author. I have three stand-out favourite fiction writers and they are all female and of the twentieth century. If Pym is one can you guess the other two? I will re-read my favourite authors and find something new in their storytelling each time I do. Pym is a particular favourite for her well-paced narrative, humour and character studies. As a twenty-first century reader I might, for a moment, have some nostalgia for Pym's worlds of coffee houses, church bazaars, chilly English homes, country walks and simple meals - and I do wish some days that I lived in a world without so much technology - but I am also grateful that today there's actually still a lot of Pym's world around me. Walk around my local town and you will see them: older ladies of a certain class, keeping up appearances and pinning church sale notices on doors, or counting their change out for a cup of coffee and eyeing the cakes at one of the quieter cafes. The world changes but people are dealing with the same small details of life: what to cook for dinner, how to make a meal stretch to feed unexpected visitors, how to politely get out of social engagement, how to wear a brown cardigan and not feel too shabby...... I am at heart a spinster in a Pym novel, to be very honest.


Two poems I have written in recent weeks. Thanks for reading, more next week.


Once I was an angel
in a rain-sodden coat
attempting to find my way back
but only by bus
and  people were really sniffy,
gave me that look as if
it was just too much to have me
illuminated yet shabby,
dripping slowly next to them
with my feathers twitching beneath
the itchy old coat.
Oh how I wished to take off that garb
and just fly into the traffic,


Then I was two angels at once.
I was the small clay angel your brother
made in nursery school, with its broken head
fixed miraculously
with shoe polish
and at the same time I was something
quite otherwise: as tall as a tree
and parked right by the hospital so that
I could peer into each and every window.

Of course you saw me, and yet
looked right over my shoulder,
And you asked the nurse:
Is that the Shard on the horizon?

(C) Cathy Cullis 2018


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