I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

15 June 2016

The Stories of My Life

My life was the fairy-tales
I was brought up on.
Child on a magical island
apart from the ordinary world.
Our vast back lawn
edged with flowering shrubs,
raspberries and loganberries,
a stand of skinny bamboo,
and a clump of curly ferns
with new leaves unrolling like fractals.
Invisible friends, called imaginary
by grown ups who couldn't see.
(Now I know them as nature spirits
and children who had died. Both
liked to come and play with me.)
Sometimes I climbed trees.
Sometimes I thought of myself
as D'Artagnan or Robin Hood.

Cast out into the world to find my way,
bereft of fortune, stripped of privilege. 
Trials and monsters: the mean girls
in the school playground, bullies
who, when I broke away and ran
crying to the teacher, said: 'But we
were just having fun. We thought
she was enjoying the game.'
The real-life wicked stepmother
who tried to feed my little brother and me
mouldy vegetables, bits of broken glass.
(We weren't quite that stupid.) 
Who took the party dress my mother gave me –
pale blue organdie – and sold it for charity.  
The previously wonderful father
who failed to see, and disbelieved.

Rescue!  The house of our aunt,
my own fairy godmother. Her big smile,
her warm, welcoming arms, her wise advice.
The student years. The city. Long nights
writing essays. Study, study, study, 
no money. But - the opening world of the mind.
Shared houses. Jobs. Town Hall dances.
Various charming princes. I chose the one
who turned back into a toad. Party giver,
winer and diner, prize-winning ballroom dancer;
compulsive gambler, pathological liar, heavy drinker, 
prone to black depressions, impotent.

This princess then rescued herself
by means of a full-scale nervous breakdown,
and an adulterous affair. Change of script,
from children's fairy tales to steamy romance. 
The happy ever after was with someone new,
for whom I ditched both husband and lover.
It lasted for 27 years of travels, adventures,
wealth and bankruptcy, while three sons
grew to manhood. Then we ran out
of things in common. Endings. New 
beginnings. Third-time-lucky husband.
The move to a small town in a warm climate.
Happy ever after again, for 20 years, until
it was his time to go. 'Don't leave me!'
I used to beg, and in some ways he hasn't.
I'm always talking to him.

The Book of the Dead holds many
names and recollections. All the parents,
loved and otherwise. All the husbands. 
(They were all loved; not all viable.) 
Some friends. Two of the dearest lovers....
The Book of Life has begun a new chapter,
still being written. I don't yet know the plot, 
or even the outline, but I suspect 
it will be a mystical quest, a saga 
of spiritual adventures, a journey for one.
I have my boots and my sword,
my magic wand, and my light.

Abandoning the attempt to do a series of memoir poems; trying to sum it all up more-or-less metaphorically in one, instead. But this still leaves out a heap of stuff. It's been a longish, eventful life; I think it demands prose. Meanwhile all these long pieces might eventually become a number of shorter poems.


  1. A glorious ramble through your life, my friend, and yes, it demands prose and I, for one, CANT WAIT!!!!!!! I had a life full of Much-ness, too. Some of us manage a lot of living in our allotted time. In your poem, I most like the mystique of the current chapter, a quest, spiritual adventures. I also love that you still talk to Andrew. For I know he hovers near. And you see him occasionally sitting in his chair. I enjoyed this poem so much.

  2. This is incredible, Rosemary. The vividness of glass offered as food, love gone impotent, self-rescuing, and a love that will never leave... just wonderful.

  3. A life time beautifully compressed into a poem. Life is for living...and you have done that. Enjoyed this.