Saturday 31 March 2012


It unnerves me
the face in the glass,
that is sometimes me
and sometimes not.

I am unbalanced
by this perfume,
that is sometimes you
and sometimes not.

The heat
stretches out the thread -
in the rain,
it nestles closer;

All around me
the web glistens,
sometimes real
and sometimes not.
image source: the mag

Monday 26 March 2012


You little light,
You joyful face,
You of the wide uncompromising gaze,
You of the wild encompassing grace,

You have faith.

You heal leaving no scar,
no painful trace.

You little acrobat,
You move so fast,
We can hardly keep pace -
Only watch in awe as you
Morph and shift your shape

In and out of this race
And that place;
Listening only for the sounds
Of love's embrace.

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY my darling nephew Rafael!!! If only I could have been there to blow bubbles, and eat cake, but the real gift is this - all that light and love sails right across the oceans, and keeps me buoyant and afloat. In the wake of your smile, in the palm of your hand,
I remain, your devoted
Aunty Shai

Sunday 18 March 2012


Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Magpie Tales
Last night I spent a couple of hours dashing about the Tate Modern with a modern art aficionado. It was all energy and flux, transformative matter and the complex relationship of humankind to the School of Things. The work of Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese conceptual artist, was on display - her retrospective exhibition was a visual kaleidoscope of infinity rooms and thrashing limbs and hallucinations made interactive - the security alarms were constantly sounding because children were unable to resist touching; not just children, an unabashed adult too - no, it wasn't me, not this time, anyway!
IMG_0240 Infinity Dots Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama at The Mattress Factory
I can understand the relevance of found beauty in pieces of wood, metal, Lucio Fontana's single clean slash of a canvas,
Do Ho Suh's red fabric staircase,
Richard Long's circles of pebbles and stones...
and Damien Hirst's butterflies or 'Sympathy in White Major - Absolution II'...
but then, with seconds to spare, as the armed watchmen were descending on us (armed with walkie-talkies), we suddenly came upon Monet. And it was all light and simplicity.
Give me trees and water lilies, I thought, give me the scent of oils and a paintbrush. Give me a garden and give me light. I'll add the stars and moon, later, when it darkens. Breath of Monet aside, the Tate Modern seemed to me to be filled with a kind of emptiness, an alienating distance, made more poignant by the DO NOT TOUCH alarms and signs. How to be touched without touching? It's a mystery. Unless, of course, you break the rules.

Thursday 15 March 2012


The birds they are a twittering, round the birch,
inside of Spring, 
This morning, there were daffodils and daisies,
And hidden things -

And bursting behind the door,
purple lilac softly knocking,
ready dressed to come a calling. 

Through my many long years of illness I have often heard this phrase used to describe me: 'she's out of the woods now' - I always find it a curious phrase, because as Frost said, the woods are 'lovely, dark and deep' and sometimes it is enchanting when you're ill to stay cocooned in the warmth of your frailty. But, like Frost, I too have had promises to keep. Promises to live and love, and be all things spring and light.
For two years now, I have been in the woods about funding for my monoclonal treatments, which have been erratic, and for which I learned how to dance with radio, newspapers and medical journals - but now, ta-dah!! I have received a note from my consultant's secretary confirming 'that Rituximab will be funded for the next two years'. Shall I frame it?

To celebrate, I wander around the grounds of Emmanuel College, illegally feeding the ducks Japanese rice crackers, and befriending one in particular with whom I discuss further promises to keep. The duck warns that he will hold me to my promises - but I don't mind. I shall return and make him proud. For the next two years, at least. At least.
first image prompt from Magpie Tales

Sunday 4 March 2012

The Lake Isle Fellowship

One of the pleasures of poetry is the way a line returns to you, unexpectedly. There you are, a schoolchild, being forced to learn of a poet's strange intent -
'I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there' - why? Why will he have nine bean rows? And why wattles? What were wattles to me? But learn the lines I did. And now, as I curl up on a rainy Sunday, and watch the green grass of home slowly soak up the new March rain, as I wait eagerly for spring to unfurl, I understand Yeats...
'And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.'
Yeats was in London, longing for Lough Gill, like any exile in a home away from home, like any lover separated from their beloved...
'While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.'
I didn't call him consciously to mind, but what Yeats heard all those years ago, echoes now in me as his words resound with each drip-drip dropping of peaceful rain today. Happiness is a funny thing - sometimes it feels just as sudden as unhappiness. And all you can give thanks for is that the path has been trodden before, and with great care, by a fellow poet who understands your dreams.

image by digital artist Walter Smith for dverse
William Butler Yeats by John Singer Sargent, 1908