Monday, 20 July 2009

Practical Magic

is in the act
of loving your self
and the rain washed
sea salt sky
even when the rainbow
passed you by.

Practical Magic
is in the act
of calling that rainbow back,

With just a hint of smile -

All it takes is a little while
and plenty of woman style.

- Shaista Tayabali

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Groundhog Days

Two grey rabbits arrive punctually, every evening at seven - they eat all the clover, over and over, and still leave enough for supper tomorrow.
Some days feel like Groundhog Days to me, and I have lived this life, this pain, this sorrow, over and over -
And yet I know - rabbits are for Summer, and Summer will fade, Autumn will breeze through and Winter slip away -
And of this day too, nothing will remain - save the memory of two white tails flashing by me.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Words at Sea

Wide is the river
between us.
I look to my shore, you to yours,
We meet at intervals
of wind at war.

As sky light fades
and melts to sea
We dine on stars
(or crystal words)
We walk on rocks
(or salt sea shells) -

You talk of you, I of me,
and learn nothing
in between;
For I am you, and you are me,
but the river is too wide
for us to see.

Image: Claude-Oscar Monet's 'The Beach at Trouvile', 1870

Sunday, 12 July 2009

On a bridge in Shelford

Rushing by
the stream fails to notice me,
Patiently I sigh;

"I will come back
another day," I cry!

But will the stream
be the same?
Will I?

Saturday, 11 July 2009

In the voices of, in the echoes of...

I am listening to the letters of Jane Austen (left) and Charlotte Bronte (right). It is enough to be still, and listen when women writers speak. Jane Austen's voice, much as Elizabeth's in 'Pride and Prejudice', is good humoured for the most part; only loneliness and financial dependence make her acerbic or tart. For example, "I was pleasantly surprised to find L.B. still here. She looks remarkably well - legacies are a very wholesome diet..." But in her last letter to her brother she writes poignantly of her sister Cassandra's love and devotion to her, "If ever you are ill, may you be as tenderly nursed as I have been. And may you possess the greatest blessing of all - the consciousness of not being unworthy of their love..."(1817).

I feel and echo this sentiment, as I do much of the odd and awkward business of being a young, unmarried woman, living in the family home, creating an inner and written world within the confines of a long and tiresome illness and a very solitary existence. Inspite of these, happiness is my lot, and laughter, neither of which seem to have played much part in Charlotte Bronte's life - sadness pervades her writing. Death of her siblings, one by one, indifferent health herself, poor eyesight and the knowledge that had she been a man, the success of 'Jane Eyre' would have been unmitigated, free of all suspicion and disparagement. It is in defense of her writing that I find myself echoed again: "The loss of what we possess nearest and dearest to us in this world produces an effect upon the character. We search out what we have left that can support and when found we cling to it with a hold of new strung tenacity. The faculty of imagination lifted me when I was sinking three months ago; its active exercise has kept my head above water since. Its results cheer me now for I feel they have enabled me to give pleasure to others..." (1849).

It is a gift, always a gift , to write, and be read. To be heard and echoed over the waters of two hundred years, must make the artists smile. It was worth the living, to tell the tale, if only for a while.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

On My Father's Birthday (my 100th post!)

What can I call this love for you
That standing, staring makes me cry
for things that are,
and have not been;
On your weary shoulders weigh
burdens I cannot name;
You keep your secrets far too well
And I,
see nothing I can tell.

But I am standing watchful here,
waiting, for the hourglass
to turn,
and turning set me free -
free to cast a different spell,
That you may rest beside the sea;
and hope some careless hour
you choose
to paint your dreams for me.

- Shaista

Monday, 6 July 2009

Family Ties

We agree
inside the silences
And argue
out the words,
We laugh
despite the hurting clouds
And rain
away the tears.

Bare Bones.

We chew
our flesh like cud
And milk
out love for food,
Our dreams
are skeletons walking free
Our fears
are cuttings of the tree.

Pared limbs
and child like whims -
We keep it in the family.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Fourth of July Surprise

This morning the doorbell rang and, since seeing who the visitor was, my mother has not stopped smiling and laughing all day...

You who live so far away
showed up today;
The unexpected one,
the hourly expected son.
Surely I know now
that time has passed,
has moved us on,
beyond, at last -
to cygnets on the River Cam,
and Turner skies
in a Gainsborough land.

It has been seven months since I last saw my younger brother, who has been working hard in Singapore, and writing me poems that make me smile and miss him more. And it is sweet to have him home, to be home, to enjoy being together.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


The shock
of the hot, hot sun
on your white skin,
my brown.

A butterfly flutters by
as I make my pilgrimage
past Glisson
and St Pauls' Roads
down to the Cathedral.

Birds alight
on the iron steed
and flowers are ballerinas.
I could be anywhere,
anyone, today.

I choose me.

Image: Lady Kathleen Scott's 'Youth', bronze, 1920. Scott Polar Research Institute. Inscribed at base 'Lux perpetua luceat eis'... May perpetual light shine upon them...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


Do never pray
But only say
O Thou
And leave it so
For He will know
That you fall
And you call
On Him now.

- James Stephens