June was when I would visit the wonderful Almassera Vella (Old Olive Press) in Relleu, Spain. I have been on several one-week workshops with the incomparable Ann Sansom of the Poetry Business. Other poets from whom I learned a great deal were Mimi Khalvati and the late Matthew Sweeney.
Christopher North, himself a published poet, and his wife Marisa took two years to convert the old olive press into a stunning home. As you can see, they kept the actual press. Relleu is a one-hour drive from Alicante airport and about half an hour from Villajoyosa on the coast.
Nowadays, Christopher and Marisa organise cookery workshops. You can also book B&B accommodation and the flat over the road is still available as retreat accommodation for writers.
The poem June rain is from my first collection Another life published by Oversteps Books Ltd (2016).
for Cristopher and Marisa
It’s June and the rain is falling.
It is cooler and darker now.
It’s the rain we prayed for last night,
though we’d not meant to do such a thing.
The old women, eight or nine, spread
across benches outside the church.
Us along the tables, a line of snails,
sloping down towards the blue house.
It was speaking of Sundays now filled
with shopping and the silence
that binds Quakers together.
And it’s in silence we, snails,
all of us with our whorled shells
of stories, sit at the breakfast table.
The cheep-cheep-cheep of birds
after the rain is flowing into the room
and a fresh breeze that tells of new stories.