Power cut

Winter morning
starts out fun
two small boys
wielding torches.

But we squashed it.

Fuses flipped.
Phone calls made.
Rushing them
out the door.

When I pick you up
they said you’d been

That night
monster puppet
had something to tell me.
“I’m worried about the lights”
“What if the torches stop working?”

Sorry monster puppet.
sorry little one.
I wish i’d done
this morning

I wrote this poem after a power cut last winter. Sometimes it is hard to keep the show on the road and be the parent you want to be.


I remember
your hand in mine
as we scrambled over
slippery Scottish rocks.
Pulling you up past
ochre seaweed and barnacles
salt wind searing cheeks.
You were so brave.
Little legs leaping
to keep up.
You won’t remember
but we took on the world
that day,
alone against
brooding sky and sea.
Now your legs are so
much longer than mine.
But somehow
you’ll always be
my little brother
hand in hand
searching for sea otters

My little brother gets married this weekend. I’m so proud of him – all he has done and the person he has become. This one is for him.

Gloriously older

should I fear
leaving young womanhood
when all around me
stand older women
glorious as trees
that have held firm
laughing through storms.
Did I see
how much of the sky
you held up for me
as I waltzed beneath
your canopy?
I see you now
all around me like
brass pots of life.
reverberating off
every dent,
pouring through
every crack.
Bathing me in warmth.
I know the path will
be glorious.
You have shown me
the way.

This poem is for the many, many women older than me who inspire me on a daily basis. This is for all of you. Thank you for your example. Your grace. Your courage. Your love. And thank you for showing me how to boss this life thing.

Granny Els

Be free.
We are here
to look after
those you love.

Last breath
you are gone.
A song
to lift you
on your way.

Open the window
the sun has come out.
Snatches of your life
speak to me now.

Plaits round the head
of a little Dutch girl.
A quiet room
with a ticking clock.
One dress for a
newly-wed doctors wife
who doesn’t know
how to make tea.

One lost child
in a hospital tent.
A drive through the night
to an Irish beach.
Windmills on the end
of a teaspoon.

Drawers full of patchwork
and home-spun wool.
New roof on a
Welsh cowshed.
Girl at the window
of an Amsterdam house
looking down
at an RAF doctor.

Long days in a
children’s hospital.
Grandchildren with
gardens on trays.
Embroidery on a
child’s old dress.

There is a yellow daffodil
in the bed where
you lay.
Be peace-filled now
we will all be ok.

Know that
Martin is with
And tomorrow
Neil and Annemarie
will cross fields
to feed the horses.

My Granny Els died earlier this year. She was an inspirational, complicated, beautiful and kind person. I have learnt so much from her and miss her dearly. Her life spoke and was full of stories. I wrote this poem after sitting with her as she died and read it at her funeral.