Poems about Connection

In the time of Covid,
somehow, somewhere,
a work of art was crystallizing.

Seeking refuge with one-another,
the isolated glassmakers of Ulster, Munster,
Leinster and Connaght united in spirit.

Sketching, etching, painting, engraving.
Filigree leaves, pressed flowers.
Each artist creating their own reflection. 

Every piece an individual concept;
singing birds, a bumble bee,
lungs breathing, a baby’s pram.

Fish swimming, a boat sailing,
Dandelion spurs blowing in
the soft warm air.

Zoom faced images;
birds flying,  a cell reproducing,
the gentle tide rippling.

Lampworking, fusing, slumping.
Fifty rhombus parallelograms,
transparent and translucent.

Drilling, image transfer,
soldering, polishing;
a glass quilt slowly emerging.

Flashes of light,
vibrant colours,
cracked fingers, split nails.

Blood red, leaf green,
sun-bright yellow, sea blue,
each affirming the other.

Portraits of freedom and hope,
hanging elegantly,
unique and resplendent.

The finished quilt stands proud;
a wonder of collaboration,
delicate as a breath of fresh air.


The smell of cumin and coriander
mingle with the frying onions
The house is huge
but the warm spiced filled kitchen
is where I find them
Chopping vegetables
stirring bubbling pans
While other deft hands roll out chapatis
Their laughter like children
infectious and joyful
welcomes me in
come Auntie they smile
take off your coat
eat with us
A chair pulled out
A steaming cup of tea appears like magic
These women have fled their lives
left family and belongings behind
witnessed more torment
than I will ever know
Yet here they are
free from servitude
still giving

At the refuge we are building bridges
from clean slates
Letting each woman map
their own destination
finding their voice by
sharing the recipes of their mothers
as they rinse tooth white basmati
simmer it till cooked
serve it straight from the pan
in fluffy, pillowy, mountains
argue about the amount of chilli powder
red pungent reminders of the homes
they have lost
and the ones yet to be built
By the glow of the oven
a campfire confessions begins
As they share stories
and plan futures
from the brick dust
of shattered memories
Scooping green beans
in warm bread
their fingers stained yellow by Turmeric

The summer house as they called it
was, when we found it,
something of a disappointment.

Neither large nor small, no-one was living
In its square, empty rooms. A friend
of the family met us by the wooden gate

to show us round, as if to translate.
She recalled playing in the garden
and most especially how

my now fretful and eccentric relative
had been the most sunny, smiling child
that she had ever seen. ‘Over there

is where they put her swing.’ I stared
at an unyielding tangle of leaves and
all unkempt, unable quite to comprehend.

‘They’re still here’, she said, ‘those trees
were named for them and there was one
for me.’ I saw apple, pear, wild plum, all

bearing fruit in this late season,
wearing their best clothes, remembering
games of hide and seek, blind man’s buff,

treasure hunts. Then, I understood how wise my grandmother had been to plant
this flowering orchard for she had known

that one day, I would seek it out.
Tentatively, I touched the sunburned bark
of an apple bough, accepting fruit

it proffered. Its texture, the smooth skin
of a well – loved hand. I stood still
among those trees, surrounded
by the spirits of my aunts.

Content warning: domestic violence

Her sigh was all it took
he smashed his fist into her mouth
In the black eye of the storm
Tears rained down her cheek bone
She knew not what to do
The door bell’s ring a rescue
Your Content Goes Here

38 planes, 20 feet in the air 28 hours.
Plane steps busy, minibars empty.

Gander folk empty shops into casseroles,
can’t watch the news anymore.

The Come from Away disembark
to a school bus on loops, 

shielding eyes from across the water.
Population doubles to 16,000.

Airplane pillows, blankets
and donated clothes cram into halls 

with strangers not themselves,
or someone else.

Hours of phone queues,
attempts to reach loved ones.

Questioning the foundation of human.  

The croaking of the ravens in the treetops break the silence of this thin May afternoon.
The sun warms her skin.
She is ebb and flow, light and shade.
Here in exile, protected.

She leaves parts of herself on the ground where she stands,
salty, hot tears of hope drop and bead on the dry soil before disappearing slowly,
becoming part of this earth.
A sparrow bathes in the dust.

One fine hazel hair escapes her hood and falls,
descending unhurriedly where it too will nourish this earth, this island refuge.
She has no name but I know she was here. I sense her presence on this thin May afternoon, as the croaking of the ravens in the treetops break the silence.
So many women unknown, united, untold stories entwined.

Grandad read manga to me, tales rendered
in Chinese ideograms that made no sense
on the settee exploring a white-black world,
the antics of a time-travelling genie-pet-bot.
I remember him snoring, newspaper on bureau
vintage safety razor disassembled beside;
me slicing newsprint into the finest strips
with purest trust and glee, before whiteness
and pandemonium erupted alongside my blood.

No memory of wounds healing but they had
as my fingers unlock robot gantries readily
into workplaces easy and uneasy. Offices
as second homes, an innate desire for safety
yet a fraught recipe when enterprise
and endeavour enter the mix:
relief where doors along plain corridors
yield no blade or trap,
delight where open-plan cubicles and fads
pose no gauntlet or minefield,
dismay where the toxic reign
in guise of colleague or superior,
disgust where each word or comment
is uttered in the tongue of worms. 

Yet why do
contrived dangers lurk within
when the struggle is without,
petty imagined slights wraith
into phantom blood feud? Why
must work hurt, must toil wound
must labour scar,
must would-be kin remain would-be?
Why are kin denied where kin are.

Something there is that rejects evil,
seeds hope and sows faith to uproot it,
withholds air and succour from
they who prey. As empath and shield
we strive, to make sense in this world
– what could be, what should be –
with purest trust and glee.