Monthly Archives: March 2018

Leaving Addis Ababa

i.m. Marianne Carolan

Stretched out across three seats,
tucked under a thin brown blanket,
my friend two rows behind me.
Blinds are down, this return half empty,
breakfast our next call, then Heathrow.

I can still smell roasted coffee beans:
a ceremony performed with precision.
I see round Tukul huts, the market, hills,
blue school uniforms, the churches
carved from rock, priests in white robes.

A boy and his widowed mother.

We donated dictionaries, old laptops,
mobile phones, Man United shirts.
We improved our Amsege’nallo,
bought breakfasts, wore the white
gowns they gave us for Timket.

Our new families in Lalibela. Epiphany.

This poem is dedicated to the memory of my friend Marianne.  It’s her birthday today.  After an educational trip to Lalibela she started sponsoring a boy there.  Her friends and colleagues too started sponsoring children, some of them orphans.  As they moved into higher education, more funds were needed – to see them through university and nursing college.  That’s why Marianne set up the Lalibela Educational Trust in 2006.

With Marianne and other sponsors, I travelled to Ethiopia to meet my “Lalibela son” and his mother.  Our visit in January 2007 coincided with the religious Timket festival.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t talk to me of snow

Don’t talk to me of snow

Just give me her body laid in Longmire’s
and I’ll show you stillness, silence, chill.

I’ll show you every thread cut through
to heart, limb, brain.

I’ll show you in-and-out stopped up
to speech, song, sigh.

I’ll show you stone no touch or kiss
will every warm again.

Don’t talk to me of snow, of landscape whited out
and all ways lost. Give me mother.

This poem is by Gina Wilson, from her new pamphlet IT WAS AND IT WASN’T, published by Mariscat Press in Edinburgh. Gina’s adult poetry started to appear in 1996 and has been widely published in anthologies and a range of magazines. Happenstance Press published her first poetry pamphlet Scissors Paper Stone in 2010. She was first published as a writer for children and young adults – novels (Faber), poetry (Cape) and picture books (Walker Books). Gina has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, Kurt Maschler Award and the Smarties Prize. She is a psychotherapist in Oxford.

Gina and I met in 2012 on the Writing School in Sheffield. She wrote a testimonial for my debut collection. I see our work as similar in some ways: her poems are complex, but they seem deceptively simple. Tough and compelling, no verbiage – no sentimentality Kate Clanchy wrote of her first pamphlet. Below is the poem that gives the new pamphlet its title:

Treasure

Squirrels spend a lot of time
digging up and reburying their store,
checking it’s still there, taking a bite.
My mother used to be the same
with dates and nuts at Christmas.
Never an unopened box of anything
by the Day itself. Funny how people
can’t quite bury a treasure. My brother
dug up our dead rabbit by torchlight
to see if it was safe. It was and it wasn’t.