Apple pip


I don’t know
whether you are
boy or girl,
alive or dead,
part or whole,
flesh or bone –
I don’t know if
life is a struggle for you,
if I love you yet,
when you came,
or when I will meet you,
hungry one
greedy guts
demanding little apple pip
I’m making
turkey broth and dumplings
for you
hot mash and gravy
fish soup and noodles.
I’m feeding you
like a farmer coming in from the pigs,
like a sailor casting off storm gear,
like a fisherman hauling up sea trout –
we will grow
big bellied
you and I,
apple pip
treasure of mine

(I wrote this poem years ago, on the first day I suspected I was pregnant with that child who’s away at University. An insatiable hunger for good food follows him wherever he goes, and that was the first clue. Am I missing him? Yes!)


(Does it get better? Please say it does. It’s an odd, constantly disconnected feeling, as though you’ve lost something, but you’re not sure what you’ve lost.)

(The photo above is of said child as infant, in Grandpa’s hat. I had baby number two some few weeks before this photo. Everything must have been going well, as I have no wrinkles, and my hair has not one thread of grey in it yet! Wah! Just look at it!!!).

(Or maybe that’s just the beauty of youth.)

(I *love* my grey hair though. I’m not ever dyeing it. Never. All those chemicals – urgh. So dangerous, so near your brain. Luckily, my imagination doesn’t need any chemicals to have a good time.)

🙂 🙂 🙂



A 5 ‘o’ clock walk

5 ‘o’ clock in the early evening is a very good time for a walk, especially in Winter.

Put on your big coat, and a scarf, and a hat. Find your gloves. Pull on your boots.

Put in your headphones, lock the door behind you, and walk.

It doesn’t matter where you live. The aim is to enjoy the cold, and to see the bright moon, and the last glows of daylight disappearing behind the tree-line.

I love it. It’s a great time to be out.

If you’re lucky, people won’t have drawn the curtains yet, and you’ll be able to look into the warm, bright houses. The lit windows are like little jewels in the gathering darkness, and inside, all of human life is being played out in fleeting vignettes.

A woman laying the table for supper, placing one piece of cutlery at a time onto a white tablecloth. A cat, curled on a tattered armchair. A bird in a cage. The blue, flickering light from a TV, and a row of children in front of it. A man in a thick jumper coming into a front room, a mug of tea in each hand.

One house has Christmas decorations already up.

In another, a child in the top window is waving (goodbye? hello?) to an older woman, who is getting into a car on the street as you pass.

Rootle your hands deeper into your pockets – it’s cold today.

One more street? OK, and then I’ll circle back round to the start.

If you’re lucky, your own family won’t have drawn the curtains yet, and you can look in wonder into the cosy warmth as you go up the path, thinking:





National poetry day

Apparently, it’s today, and it has a theme. This year it’s Freedom.

Well, that’s appropriate, as young Felix is about to make a break for it. He moves into student accommodation in just a few days. What a lot of fun and shenanigans he is going to have! (I’m glad I won’t be there to watch, though).

He is fed up of his Mummy by now, but just wait, as soon as he misses my cooking he’ll be crying down the phone. Alternatively, he might just learn to cook properly for himself, which is what I’m hoping. The mark of a real man, in my view.

Anyway, to celebrate National Poetry Day (which should be every day actually), here’s a little poem I wrote for him when he was 2. It’s less of a poem and more of a recording of the anguished conversation we had walking home one day. He was always good at expressing himself!*

I want to stop walking
(for Felix)

I want to stop walking
I want to live
right here
on the street.
I’m too tired to move.
I’ll sleep here!
I can’t get home.
It’s impossible.
Don’t even think I could do it.
I want to stop walking!
I want to stop walking
right here




Good luck, Felix! I love you.
*For that, read tantrums 🙂

Motherhood in blue

illustration of mother and child with baby

How a Mother’s heart
can ache
the partitioned chambers
beating in time
to the footsteps
leading away
from the front door.

It is eternal work.
Unapplauded hours
of toil
and mayhem
the undervalued craft
of forming
whole people.

Having taught play,
good sense,
and kindness,
it feels
there is little in return

save perhaps

for the flash of a brilliant smile at the end of the drive.




PS: Thanks to my friend, Ahu, for loaning me one of her photos for the inspiration for this illustration.

PPS: That naughty cat of ours has been gravely ill – emergency operations late at night type ill. All very distressing. He’s OK, but he’s in the vet’s cat hospital, and must remain there for the next few days! (Thank goodness we took out pet insurance, though we grumbled sorely about the cost of it! Let’s hope it works).

So much going on in my heart today. I need a hug. And I think I may even have a nap this afternoon!

Feeding the fish

Ah! A poem from long ago days – I found it today in an battered old folder while I was looking for something else. I like those unexpected discoveries. I thought this photo of a recent (sold!) painting would go nicely.

Painting of a whale by trudi Murray

Detail from ‘Never ignore the song of a whale’ – Sold

Feeding the fish

at the tropical house
and they are
big as buses
ponderous and stupid
so many
awful vacuums
hoovering up
and slowly
what we throw in
from the pot.
I have no desire
to buy a second lot.
It stinks.
Plus, the look
that catfish
is giving me
makes me uneasy,
and there are
and poisonous frogs
and tortoises,
which I sound out
like testing a a loaf.
They are perfectly done.
Later on
the keepers
a snake
round your neck,
while I hold the baby
and wonder at you.
At nearly 3
you are
brave and exotic,
joining in,
daring and fearless.

You fall asleep in the car on the way home.

After lunch
and while you nap
your Daddy and I
make love
in the pantry.
It is dark
in there
and the black-eye beans
floating in brine
start to haunt me.
I giggle too much
to be useful.

All afternoon
we play
feeding the fish
with a cardboard box and some corks.
And we roll the baby
around the living room rug
our own giant millipede
all his legs
in the air
ticklish & tickling.

Text from Berlin

old german telephone with painting by trudi Murray

(For Alex)

You sent me a text from Berlin:
I’m in a flea market
on my day off
there’s an old telephone
I’m going to buy it, OK?

I texted back:
where will we put it
another thing to gather dust

You bought it anyway
and hauled it back
a relic, black and heavy with secrets
it sits
connected only to itself
on a chair
in the corner of the kitchen
guests wonder about it

I didn’t want it,
I tell them.
I said: no
I said: another thing to gather dust.

But then I say
the thing is,
dust is part of the story of life.
It’s proof that people live here.

You sent me a text from Berlin.
I said no.

But I was wrong.

This is the leg

This is the leg that had a cut
and this is the germ that crawled right in
This is the fever that came on fast
and this is the bed of hot and cold
This is the dash for help at dawn
and this is the Doctor who acted quick
This is the blip he expertly spots
and this is the query? a bad surprise
This is the Doctor who ordered a scan
and this is the specialist and her machine
This is the findings in black and white
and this is me, reluctant to hear it

This is the waiting.

This is the fun, I thought on the way
and this is the town I’ve never been to
This is the map I followed along
and this is the clinic here, at 3
This is the waiting room, hot and full
and this is the baby crawling about
This is the consultant, halfway through
and this is his list of people to see
This is my turn, ushered in
and this is the battle of wills he wasn’t expecting

This is the way he lays it out
and this is the way I scrumple that up
This is the reasoning he tries after that
and this is the stare I give him.
This is the way he doesn’t flinch
and this is the way I keep on looking
This is the moment I almost break
and this is him, looking down first, shuffling his papers

This is the victory.

This is the part when he offers to tell me a story
and this is me bluntly saying I don’t need a story.
This is my questioning, the need to know the long words
and this is him almost dismissive.
This is my insistence,
and this is his acceptance and then a thorough explanation

This is the professional covert glance at the clock.

This is the moment of me expressing how I feel about it all emotionally
and this is him spitting it out.
This is his bald outline of how the facts are totally different to how I feel about it.

This is me staring him down (again),
and this is me not crying not crying not crying.

For Gods’ sake, do not cry, you fool.

This is my question of ‘what ifs’, the prospect of not doing anything, nothing at all
and this is the outcome: death
This is the low blow about seeing my children grow up

and therefore

This, this is my consent.

This is me poised and tall until the exit and down the stairs and out the door and round the corner
and this is me on a bench in the churchyard, crying.

This is the pub where I stop and consider a drink
and this is the courtyard of builders
This is the reality – do I really think I’m going to sit in there with a drink by myself and not pique their attention?
This is what usually happens to me.
And so this is the bus home.

This is the mac and this is the desk and these are the paints and here are the words
and this is the haven I’ve built.

And this poem is the furious revenge.





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