Tag Archives: beauty

the uplifting power of words – #ShoreToShore

grassI’ve been feeling fraught lately. Too much emotion, too much worry, too much sadness about the state of our country and our future.

But last night something wonderful happened – I went to Carol Ann Duffy’s Shore to Shore poetry tour. It was held in my local church, a lovely location at the best of times (I say that despite my atheist tendencies) but on this particular occasion it had a bar serving cask ales in it (it did – honest!) and was filled poetry and music.

Poets Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, Jackie Kay and Gillian Allnutt all performed along side the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and with musical interludes by John Sampson. I loved it all. I’m not saying I loved each and every poem equally or that each poet affected me the same way. I think poetry is a personal thing and you can find your own meanings within the words. I let some of last night just wash over me, while other parts made me smile or laugh, and still others brought tears to my eyes. Some poems really hit home. Politics did enter the building (at a time like this how could it not?) but I had a strong sense of being surrounded by like-minded people. And we sat side by side and were immersed in thought and intelligence and warmth. It was an evening of out-and-out soul enrichment.

When I got home I wrote a poem about it. I didn’t really think about it I just walked into the room, exchanged pleasantries with my husband (‘How were the kids at bedtime? Perfectly behaved? What, did the stars align this evening or something?’), grabbed a pen and paper and the words appeared on the page. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a poem like that. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a poem.

Of course I’m terrified to share it here – because it’s a first draft and it’s raw and you might think it’s rubbish. But I want to put it somewhere because, I don’t know, there’s been so much sadness recently and the poem is about how I felt last night, remembering what’s good in life. It was transmitted so clearly through those wonderful poems from those wonderful writers and, though I can’t hope to live up to their words, they’ve given me the strength to throw a few of my own out into the world.


They fell like raindrops
drenching parched soil –
words of beauty
of truth
of kindness,
of art and wisdom and thought.

They fell like blossom
coating tired streets –
words of culture
of insight
of education,
of rawness and emotion and love.

They fell like sunbeams
through the treetops,
a soft wind through the grasses,
warmth beside me,
gentle hands in my hair.

Prose for Thought
Writing Bubble


reflection in mirror6am. Eleanor grumbled to herself as she dragged herself out from under her warm covers and hurried across the icy corridor to the bathroom. It was too early and altogether too cold to be out of bed. She should have told John to make his own way home. Who needed picking up at 6.30 anyway? Ridiculous.

Splashing her face with water at the sink she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and leaned in for a closer look. Hmm. Those eye bags weren’t getting any smaller and the lines round her mouth seemed to be extending too. And the patches making their way across her sallow skin were clearly age spots now rather than freckles. Her hair contained more than a mere smattering of grey and the skin on her jaw – she pinched a bit – yes, it was definitely starting to sag. There was no denying it. She was getting old.

The side of her mouth twitched and, as she caught her own eye in the mirror, she couldn’t help it: a huge grin spread across her face. Old age! She had never expected to see it. No one had expected it. She doubted that even John, who had sat beside her in the oncologist’s office that awful day and assured her, “You’re strong, you’ll beat this!” had really dared to believe his own words. But she had defeated the odds and here she was. And there those beautiful wrinkles, grey hairs and saggy bits were too.

Walking back into the bedroom she picked up the teardrop necklace John had given her for their thirtieth anniversary and fastened it round her neck. It caught the first rays of morning light and shone. But not as brightly as her smile.

It’s been a tricky week. There has been bad news and sad news but none worse than that which a good friend of mine received about her health. I was thinking about her as I wrote this story. I fervently hope I will be complementing her on her gorgeous silvery hair in many, many years to come. The idea of growing old can be scary but the idea of never getting to grow old… well if that’s not a reason to celebrate our wrinkles I don’t know what is.

Prose for Thought