Underground ~ Rupert Wolfe Murray
This is the time for renovation
Doors, floors, windows and kitchen
But the more I do
The more I find
Rusty railings, rotten joists, woodworm
It’s messy, dusty, noisy and chaotic
Every evening a Spring Clean is required
So I can turn this building site into a home
Some days I crawl under the floorboards
Alien-like in a gas mask
Fixing the rot, spraying the woodworm
And insulating for the winter
I like it down there
Even though it feels like a coffin
Why is it more satisfying to crawl through rubble
Than work on a computer?
Week 12, 22nd June: Lulled into Nostalgia ~ Hilery Williams
I emerge from two days of relentless migraine. Too drained to read, I permit myself – oh the decadence! – to watch The Borrowers on YouTube (NOT the execrable film), filmed in the 1990s from books set in the 1950s.
I lost myself in the Clock family’s miniature world: framed stamps on walls, corks for stools, a thimble for a table, clothes packed into match- boxes. Carpet fibres make excellent brushes for resourceful Pod, while Homily serves meals on bottle tops. Arrietty sleeps in a cigar-box. Even their names are borrowed, although they believe that human ‘beans’ are for Borrowers, like bread’s for butter.
Lulled, I turn to the News. The actor Ian Holm, who played Pod, has died, as my dad did a year ago, both so twinkly and kind. Homily bears a resemblance to my mum whose death occurred in the same month. How she loved her collection of little things.
I am undone.
The Tree ~ Pat B
I heard of a tree today
Not too far away.
And its leaves were heavy
with sadness. Names
written of those who
before their autumn came
have fallen, withered,
from a virus which
where cracks have
formed in the neglect
over years, of
the most vulnerable.
Always within Never ~ Alastair Hulbert
My wife and I have been re-reading that beautiful novel by Muriel Barbery that made such a stir a dozen years ago, The Elegance of the Hedgehog.
‘Do you believe that life has meaning?’ asks twelve-year-old Paloma, a profound question that interrupts the narrative of the secretive concierge Renée. At that stage we know the child is set on ending her life at her next birthday. But what happens later in the story between her and Renée makes her change her mind.
In a pandemic like we’re in now, with a lot of despair around and death a constant feature of the news, maybe the meaning of life can be found in missed moments of fondness between generations or friends. Or in moments of beauty, like the Satie Paloma hears being played on a piano somewhere in the building the evening after Renée’s untimely death. She calls them ‘moments of always within never.’
Looking Up ~ Diana
I’m locked down but looking up
At a blackbird dancing on a chimney pot
At a willow tree waving its arms at me
At a cloud drifting by with a dream on top.
Be sure to look up, there’s a lot to see.
I’m locked down but looking out
At the garden bluebells blueing and belling
At a fern unfurling against the wall
At Spring– the word nature is spelling.
Be sure to look out and welcome it all.
I’m locked down but tuning in
To a world that’s suddenly quiet and slow
But the space in my mind is opening wide
For all my thoughts and dreams to grow
Until ready to plant in the world outside.
I’m locked down but looking up
At the evening star and the moon above
And a world that’s still full of hope and love.
From Stay at Home: Poems and Prose for Children in Lockdown
ed. Joan Haig and published as a free illustrated anthology.