Friday, 22 May 2020


Sometimes we hear the train, Dad and I, as we perambulate the length of the garden. Sometimes we  hear only wind. I see the tops of trees, ours, but not ours; they could be found anywhere, in any other clearing.

May is rounding out her month and soon June will be sent our way. Is your honeysuckle out? We have the scent of Syringha, planted for Shelagh...

I woke up this morning with a burning left eye, and now even after the sun has set, the rice is on the stove, and the song thrush is harmonising her final duets, I have the look of a badger about me.

Delftia some weeks ago, and now Klebsiella - ought I to take comfort in the strange fact that even my colonisations of bacteria have poetic names? My immunology nurse mentioned the word ‘strange’ over and over again. ‘These are strange times,’ she said. Strange, strange, strange.

My heart does funny loops and a bell is tolling like an echo in some distant yet ever near place. Do you hear this bell too? The Great Bell in Buddhism is a reminder to return to ourselves. This quieter bell seems more sinister, pulling us away from ourselves. To where?

I am reading Laurens Jan van der Post on his friend Jung. My dearest Colette sent me her copy of ‘Jung and the Story of our Time’. I feel I have already loosened the binding of this 1976 Penguin edition as I carry the book around with me, and move forward, and return to passages, and read aloud to Dad. ‘Hopkins! Schweitzer! Meister Eckehart!’ He hails these old friends as they are mentioned. Reading of the great ‘thuses of life’, what the fourteenth century Dominican mystic Meister Eckehart called istigkeit, the ‘isness’ of time and place, what Buddha called tathagata or ‘suchness’ - I am glad of mystery and the uncomfortable comfort of consciousness.

What are you reading now? And does it bring you comfort?

Thursday, 14 May 2020


A broken bird feeder found its way to me last year.
I painted it in shades of country cream.

I filled a cup of water, and sprinkled a meal, 
fit, I thought, for any feathered queen.

No bird came. Months passed by,
and today, hurrah, a visit made.

Bib of blue, and frankly suspicious, she flitted 
and flirted, from lilac to magnolia, 

to her new wooden house,
unconscious of my joyful gaze.

Chaffinch and sparrow followed, drinking in the rain,
picking through the catkin carpet,

the willow leaves, 
the tall, unwieldy, unmowed grass. 

Meanwhile, the news. Meanwhile, the roll call of names 
we never knew, strangers perching gently on our hearts. 

You ask me if I believe in God.
I say, What is God? What is a poem

I say, I lost my friends one by one to time, 
but when the birds came to call,

I found I had lost not one of my friends, 
not one of them at all. 

© Shaista Tayabali, 2020

Today, May 14th, was the birthday of both my Uncle Motu and my Aunty Saida. They weren’t twins. Aunty was five years older. They loved us kids equally. Growing up, we were showered with love when they visited our Bombay home, which had been their childhood home, and then when we moved to our shared new homeland of England, love continued, unperturbed by changed geographical boundaries. They are both gone now, into the other world ... but the memory of love remains.