A day like no other

A day like no other

No day is like any other,
each a string of pearled moments,
bright as sunlight on rainwater, dancing
in the blue and the brown of untroubled eyes,
poignant as the last leaves falling.

No day is to be discarded as a waste,
Images, gentle words, a soft look,
the growing and the fading,
all to be gathered in our arms,
held in an eternal embrace.


For the OctPoWriMo prompt I’ve used the suggested form, a kyrielle.


Scattered we are, it’s in the blood

to up and go. Perhaps we should

put down more roots and let them grow,

but dreams run deep as rivers flow.


Perhaps we should have found one place,

where each could carve her special space

and sit and watch the roses blow,

but dreams run deep as rivers flow.


Yet close we are, though far apart

it only needs a word to start

the talk. Come sun or winter snow,

Our blood runs deep as rivers flow.

Leaving the nest

The Daily Inkling prompt about the hardest nest-leaving prompted me to write about the last time I ever set foot in my parent’s home. I’ve never written about it before. It must be time.


There was a stillness about the house as if she had just gone upstairs, or out to buy the bread, an expectancy, a trail of her perfume in the air. I could almost hear her departing steps, the click of the door. My eyes went to the chair by the window that my dad hadn’t sat in for ten years. Exactly ten years. The symmetry was unbearable, as hard as the tidiness.

She had known before anyone even knew she was sick, terminally sick, that it was over, life, living, walking the hills with her friends, nattering with us all on the phone, always a visit planned. She had spent those last weeks folding the linen away neatly, cleaning out the fridge, throwing away everything that was worn or torn or would be of no use to anyone else. Afterwards.

She permeated the air particles with that faint scent of a perfume that nobody else wore. Nothing was out of place. Everything was clean, shelves dusted, the rental paid on the TV up to the end of the month. She had even renewed the subscription at the DVD place, up to the end of the month. By then, the funeral would be over and we would have all gone home.

I wept over every still, faintly perfumed corner of that house where I had never lived. It had been my parents’ house, where they lived. Their nest. But I realised then, in that moment of sitting in a front room that had never been mine, with siblings around me, together as we had so rarely been in that house, that the house didn’t matter. It could have been a pile of dust on the dark side of the moon, but that tidiness, that delicate thoughtfulness, the faint perfume that permeated it, made it home.

After the funeral, the house died too, and we put it to rest. We emptied it of the carefully folded linen, the mementos, photos, her paintings, the furniture, all that she had thought would be useful or would please us to have, and we laid the stones to rest. My parents’ nest was empty. We have it all now, the twigs and pebbles lovingly gathered, in our hearts.


Haibun for an enfolding


It is a strange sensation, a first time experience, looking forward to this short trip tomorrow. They have not all left the nest, my offspring, and only one has started her own nest-building. We are in a limbo of sorts, separated by distance, not so great for most people, but a world away in terms of lifestyle. I know the city, can (almost) still hear its din and gag on its smell. Here is quiet except for birds squabbling after seeds and the pheasant chortling. I see lush green after the frostmelt and tree branches silver-grey in the sun.

It is a strange sensation, to be flying (metaphorically) back into town, to see children not quite left, still looking forward to seeing their mother, to treat her as I used to treat them, with care, and gentleness, as if she is fragile and might break.

Frost melts in the sun

life goes on as usual

for seed-seekers.

Season’s Greetings

I know I said that this Christmas was going to be a silent, contemplative time, but it didn’t work out quite like that. We did a lot of cooking, a lot of eating, made a lot of noise, terrified the animals with silly Christmas costumes (definitely not my idea) and decorated the house with greenery wrenched from the surroundings—the Christmas decorations being among the many things we haven’t found yet

And, I succumbed. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Sound of Music, so we watched it again.


The following haibun was written on Saturday and expresses how I felt about this end of year celebration. The two words not to use for Colleen’s last Tanka Tuesday prompt of the year are ‘New & Experience’. This haibun, if not spot on, is close.


The grass is wet the day long, and green. Lords and ladies spread marbled leaves, and water drips diamonds from black branches. Cries fill the wooded air, bounced back from hanging cloud, sharp and bright in the indefinite gloom. Here, where the sky touches the earth and bathes it in the water wash of the ocean, where fog fills the valley at morning and at dusk, and no light pierces the nights of no moon, I feel close to the source of all things. Nowhere, in this December night of fox bark and the snuffling of badger and hedgehog, is there a sign, a pulse, a break in the clouds, riven by a long ago birth in an eastern desert.

There are too many

stars to count this night—none sings

louder than the rest.

She sees five faces

This poem, for the Secret Keeper’s five word prompt, is inspired by yesterday’s get-to-gether.



Into the mirror pool upon the shore,

I dip my hand to catch the prize,

Of pebbles smooth as a child’s sweet face.

Children of mine,

With eyes as blue as drops of wild October sky,

You paint a picture with your smiles

That shine as bright as this rock pool beneath the autumn sun.

Children of mine,

With eyes that glow as deep as chestnuts in red drifts of leaves,

I scoop a nut from our dark-scented earth,

To warm my hands with memories of laughter.

Could I stretch back desire until that distant point,

That speck in time when our grand schemes were born,

I could not have dreamt of such a harvest

As I find in this bright pool or in these fiery drifts.

NaPoWriMo: Family

The theme today was to paint a family portrait.

Photo ©Raymond Okonski


All dark-haired, fair or ruddy,

Their pale or sallow faces,

Stare unblinking

Through the camera’s eye of the past.

All gone the same way,

Feet tramped the same path,

Grass and stone,

Grass and stone,

Or over the green, bucking back

Of the ocean.

Beneath the green hill,

Where the gorse blows

In the wind from the sea,

All bones are white,

Singing the same songs,

While the same story hums

Through the grey stone,

To the pulse of the earth’s

Great, beating heart.

Book review: Conor Kelly and the Fenian King



This sequel to The Four Treasures of Eirean is a more complex, darker page of Conor Kelly’s story than the first volume.

Conor is a year older, still bound to his wheelchair, still unable to communicate verbally. He is more of an adolescent, and even more frustrated at his condition. In the first volume, it is Annalee who wheels him from one world to the next. In this book, it is Conor’s cousin Ciara, to whose tender mercies he has been left while his parents and sisters go on a walking holiday. Ciara is a (typical) student—independent, pretty slobby, and mouthy. She also discovers she is telepathic—she can communicate with Conor. When Conor receives what he believes to be a call for help from Annalee in Tir Na nOg, Ciara is up for the adventure.

The story eases us into the war-torn land of the Sidhe with a talking cat and a couple of wolfhounds who had once belonged to Fionn Mac Cumaill, and before that…But that’s another story. In fact there are so many stories within a story in this book that there is no chance that the reader will not feel completely immersed in Irish mythology.

But the story rapidly becomes darker. Talking cats, enchanted dogs, and unicorns sound relatively safe, but in this novel, Alison Isaac takes us into realms where people are not what they seem, friends become traitors, and even one’s own family is not to be trusted. There are difficult issues tackled here—love and friendship, hatred and wickedness, responsibility and forgiveness, death and loss. In the twists and turns of a plot that comes up with a surprise almost every chapter, where the story is as full of possibilities as a fairy tale, Conor has to steer his way as an adult. Tir na nOg is a place with as much unpleasantness as our own world, and is far more unpredictable.

I loved the way Conor grows to maturity as he learns to cope with family (and what family!) he never knew he had, in a context so far removed from the safe, loving environment of his human home. Ciara is a tremendous character, the kind of girl who could get you into all sorts of trouble, but who you’d be glad to have beside you once you were in it. Her presence alone gives a more mature feel to the story. The Fenian King, I would say, is a story for rather older children than the first book, as some of the complexities of the relationships might go over the heads of kids younger than twelve or so. Like The Four Treasures of Eirean, I wholeheartedly recommend Conor Kelly and the Fenian King to anyone who loves a thrilling, magical story, and can keep their head in a plot that wanders in and out of some of the loveliest of Irish legends.

You can read my review of Conor Kelly and the Four Treasures of Eirean here

Amazon UK link



Last night was Twelfth Night, officially the last night of Christmas, when the decorations are taken down and, the last blow out meal is eaten, before we get down to the grisly business of surviving the cold and sunless days of January and February. I like the idea of decorating a real tree, particularly that the idea comes from those shaggy tribesmen that Russell Crowe massacres in the opening scenes of ‘Gladiator’.


In our household we wait until the following Sunday which is quite often also the Epiphany. Not for religious reasons, simply because it’s the end of the holidays and back to school the next day. Rather than ending the ‘festive season’ in a frantic tearing of wrapping paper and the destruction of fancy packaging, followed by the rush to ebay to sell the unwanted gifts, the rituals of packing away the decorations for another year, eating the last of the chocolates and burning the tree are all satisfyingly symbolic.


In France we also have the traditional galette des rois, a frangipane pastry eaten at the Epiphany, just to mark the end of Christmas. The galette contains a porcelaine figurine, traditionally one of the crib people, but nowadays just as likely to be a Disney character. We have quite a motley crew in our collection that ranges from Pluto to the baby Jesus, via wild ducks and unidentified beings carrying sinister-looking sacks. They are probably all made in China which explains the slightly off-beat appearance.

Nono64 08:58, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
Nono64 08:58, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Having lit the fire for the winter solstice, we’re sitting tight now until Imbolc, next fire festival when the snowdrops should be out.