Saturday, February 16, 2019

A whale and wandering womb

I dreamed about a whale in the sky and it turned into a murmuration of starlings heading for Brighton pier. So many birds have emerged singing in February sun - a blackbird in the morning, and walking with Julie and Roxy at Rottingdean, a charm of goldfinches mobbing a barn owl as it hunted. Larks were up and singing, and in the owl's easy flight, goldfinches' chittering, the afternoon expanded. I went to the allotment with Annie who's recording bumble bees. We talked about how social media has turned into a doom-merchant in the corner, sniping and groaning. Although kids streaming through Brighton streets and other cities made a whale. There were more goldfinches in the trees by the cemetery and just as Annie breathed 'a charm of goldfinches' we saw, among their bright flashes and high sounds, a kestrel. They were chasing it away. It doesn't take much of someone else's hope to feel it. It's like sourdough starter. So demonstrating kids and goldfinches set me looking through poems for my new book. Poems about the earth, letters from years ago and growing old. Many began after I found Virtue's Household Physician (1927). Woman's Head as Jug (Arc 2013) has poems on menopause but that's not the end of the story - the womb has so many travelling companions.
Work by Joan Lyons at Paris Photo 2018

Wandering womb

The womb is often out of its natural and proper place...*

I feel it pull at ligaments. 
It's the size of a mouse or turtle 
and can turn itself inside out 
like a glove. No surprise it wanders.

Think of a glove, conducting,
giving directions, all the places 
a mouse and turtle visit, 
compared to a womb, 

now joined in its ambling 
by a kidney, eye, spleen - nomads
seeking relief from a 24-hour contract 
to remain in the same body. 

Am I cruel to tempt my womb
of all body parts, back to captivity, anchor
it with stitches to this body-zoo,
to its natural and proper place?

* from Virtues Household Physician 1927