Creative Corona: Day 17

Coyau / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Cathy Ryan and Elaine Desmond are currently students on the MA in Creative Writing.  As an antidote to lockdown, they bring us out into nature with these two poems. 


The Arctic


Rosebay willow herb,

it was the last time you told me the name of a plant.

We were walking the dusty gravel road to the edge of the woods.

Woods so silent and full that

the absence of noise was pure sound.


Up here, the clean living of tree and bark have

grown into wildly shifting shapes,

into creatures and beings I have never seen.

They skin, scale and shimmer, their beaks, jaws

and eyes appearing from twisted, lichened trunks.


Up here, the trees are an endless unwrapping of language and tellings,

written in dapples on tireless, delicate skins of bark,

whorls and hieroglyphics marking the passing of time.

Telling of the passing of silence, telling of our passing

our hands tucked deep in our pockets,

making the break slowly.

Cathy Ryan                 





Darling heron-ruled headland, green-marine

claw of rock and water. Cadet blue

sometimes or paint swatch shades between

damselfish or larkspur. Truly? Not true —

it’s mostly grey. Mud-sullen, pallid grey

as colourless as tuberculosis.

Though our eyes find turquoise past this clay,

some days even storm tides won’t heal sepsis.

Watching trawlers, ferries, overhead flights,

we haul our bones from shore to shore, as practic

al herons squawk their advice,                                                       

KEEP GOING they shout, walk light, don’t stick,

keep-your-hearts-open, trills a curlew

be primed for magic. Listen — from out of the blue…..

Elaine Desmond


TOMORROW: An extract by Fiona Whyte from her novel,  Let These Things be Written, and Sue Lewando on the nature of story-telling.