Bitter happiness

July 16th is the birthday of my second child. It was also the 50th anniversary of the Rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv.



It was hot and blue, and we walked to the hospital hand in hand to birth a baby who leapt into the world with little help. On that day, fifty years before, hot and blue and full of terror, children were sent to their deaths for no reason other than to ingratiate the authorities with the occupier. We walked in the sun and crossed the river, free as gulls, a future building one new face at a time. In the ripples of river water, silver ghosts whispered of love and sun and lost happiness. On each stone where the light fell, a smile, a cheek streaked with tears, a hand reaching out from a distant past, said, remember, and be happy, for we who were not.


After rain, the sun

shines with joy at your coming—

the river runs on.

Touch the misty breath of morning

The dverse prompt, is to play with the senses.


Touch the misty breath of morning,

tangy with the steely taste of dew,

and stroke the back of river flowing,

curling ’neath the bridge piers striding.

Draw me a cloudburst drenched in rainbow darts,

and I’ll blow you kisses through the slate grey shade.

Sing me all the blackbird’s songs,

if you dare!

and I’ll reply with moonlight tangos,

strummed on a hazel branch.

Pluck me an apple with skin as smooth as oceans,

and I’ll breathe you mint and rosemary,

rock you in the scent of roses,

until the evening falls, soft as moth wings,

bee-humming with the joy of young things,

in a cascade of heavenly blue.


For the dverse Haibun Monday, I have worked the haiku I wrote earlier today into a piece of prose, again based on Hugh’s birth on a very snowy Easter night.


I watch the light die on this spring evening so unlike the night you were born. The wisteria hangs immobile, filling the air with such heady scent, and the birds settle into silence. Moon soars, pale against the blue, in a sky without cloud, and vine leaves open in dark green clusters. Hard to believe that on this night twenty years ago, there was no light. All was shadow, densely clustered, and snow fell thick and heavy. I put on boots to tramp to the maternity hospital arm in arm with your father, ploughing through the white and stopping to let the contractions pass. It was dark and cold and white flakes blurred our vision, and we feared for the next hours.

Wisteria hangs and I bask in the golden scent. Sun has set and the sky is dark. Roses are in bud and the pansies turn their opulent faces to anyone who will look at them. The shadows fall soft and scented now; there is no fear hiding in their depths. You are all that your birth promised, big and strong and fair, and snow has never fallen at Easter since then.

Easter birth pangs grip,

snow falls hard, a soft blanket—

from chagrin springs joy.





Giving in to the addiction again—another minute poem for the Daily Post prompt: learning.


What have I learnt today, asks she,

What can I be?

Is there a ploy

To bring me joy?


The answer falls from sky of blue,

Of every hue

The petals bright

In green leaf-light.


The answer sings in feathered throats,

Dancing dust motes,

Clouds, rose-pale skies—

Open your eyes.





Joy, ephemeral as a blackbird’s song,

As his fragile feathered life,

Carried on balmy breezes,

Disperses with the merest sigh,

In a cloud of mist and thistledown.

But pain uncurls in every broken heart,

Opens heavy arms to embrace the dark,

Beats a swathe, red raw between the dancing trees,

To tear a path beyond the round of sleep,

And clawing through the cold and airless wastes,

Fills the space that lies between the stars,

Swelling into infinity.

The end of all things

Painting by Gebhard Fugel


All things end in sadness,

If only because all things must end,

All the summer-sweet memories,

Tinged with bitter brown,

Now that the page is turned,

The petals fallen.

What once was vivid, ice-bright,

To make the skin tingle with that almost touch,

Sifts now, sand-dry, through scrabbling fingers.

The past casts its dusty veil,

Tidies happiness away into a dingy box,

Where sunlight will never fall again,

And all the tears shed in joy,

A simple presage of last tears of sorrow.

Two poems, two styles, same emotion

How many times have I loved you?
How many times have we parted?
How many times have we both wished to end
This passionate story we started?

Through all of the years I have loved you
When uncertainty kept us apart
Through all of the years when you stopped your ears
To the whisperings of your heart.

I recall, though it’s years we’re together,
The joy that was worth all the pain
When I’d see you come running to meet me
With your smile and your suitcase again.


Of all the feelings
That pluck a ringing chord
None soars higher
Delves deeper
Pierces sharper
Sings sweeter
Than the surge of joy
At the longed-for sight
Of your familiar impatient gait
Breasting the insignificant crowd
To meet me
And my winged heart.