Poem: Peonies – Lockdown Poem 13

Here is the next in the Lockdown Poems series.  Simple fragments, often, and pretty much as they emerge, shared with you here.  I am seeking to pay attention, to be grounded in my place and in the moment, to notice.  It’s one of the outcomes of my continuing attempts at silent prayer.  Things catch my attention, and I do return to them after, and seek to listen.

Tonight, Friday 15th May, one of these poems is having an outing to The Verb on Radio 3, 10 pm BST. You can read more about that here.  It hardly seems real, and I am rather excited!  To get to participate in something so good! I’m intrigued to know what else is on the programme this week, how they are sharing people’s response to the lockdown, and how, indeed, other people are responding to the lockdown.

But that is for later, after dark.  For now, another moment to sit on the bench, and pay attention to the Spring.





Peonies  Lockdown 13

Today, the tree peony is transformed.
Its strange yellow sputniks of buds
have split, and are unfurling
their hard shells into
yellow cups of light,
turning towards the sun,
filling up, and up,
and white sheets blow in the wind,
and everywhere, things are uncurling.

On the lawn, the dandelions welcome
their butterflies,
and the butterflies, in turn,
welcome the sweet yellow of the dandelions.

The taller trees, outside the garden,
shake their open hands in the breeze.
Rest, and motion. Motion, and rest,
all giving, all receiving
– the light, the air,
the earth, the water,
all saying Yes, and Yes.

Poem: Here, a sudden green – Lockdown 12

A very simple moment recorded today – how quickly the spring races ahead now. Soon, all will be full-leaved, and slow, but now, it seems things grow almost before your eyes. What is even more disconcerting is how, if you’ve been watching something, and then turn your back, everything changes.

It’s a reminder of the passage of time, like how much taller the children we know will seem when we see them again. How different things may be after this time.


These Lockdown Poems are turning into a record of the spring, sometimes moment by moment. And tomorrow, Friday 15th May, you’ll be able to hear me read one of this band of poems on Radio 3’s The Verb. I’m feeling a little excited, and also nervous, but mainly awed by the opportunity to contribute something to our shared experience …..



Here, a sudden green Lockdown Poems 12

How did the silver birches grow
so green so quickly?
the stems of the rambling rose
lost now in all those tiny leaves –
those yellow catkins.

Now a tree in leaf,
yesterday, it seems,
a tree in bud,
and here, too,
the acacia, like
a yellow maidenhair fern,
shook out in the breeze,
so suddenly, so suddenly,
after a winter of waiting.


Poem: Unfurl – Lockdown Poems 11

Welcome back to my Lockdown Poems series.  These are simple reflections, more or less as they come, usually written in the garden during these times when many of us have suspended our normal activities, and are at home.  It’s been going on a while now, as we all know, and some days are better than others.


I’ve been seeking to practice being in the moment, and here’s a record of a tiny shift, noticing the sensations and the sights around me, noticing the moment.   That helps so much.  I hope that sharing these snatches with you, wherever you are, gives you a glimpse of green that helps you too.





Unfurl  – Lockdown Poems 11

World-weary, bone weary,
head aching, I list the small
things I should do, and then
turn my face away, towards
the olive green and bright green
leaves of the climbing rose,
fresh opening,
and as I do so, feel the sun
on my cheek, soft,
and as I do so, see how the
hazel leaves have grown
grooved saucers of green,
catching the sun,
as my cheek is now,

I shall rest here awhile,
list on my lap,
and let the sun unfurl something
strange and new in me,
not knowing what.

Lockdown Poem on the radio!


I am delighted and astonished to announce that one of my Lockdown Poems is going to be included in this week’s episode of BBC Radio 3’s wonderful  The Verb.

That’s Friday, 15th May at 22:00 BST. If you follow the link to the programme above, you’ll be able to find it on that date.  The programme is entitled birdsong.  I’m just after 20 minutes in, but if you start at the beginning, you’ll hear the nightingales…..

It’s a fascinating programme, and very beautiful.  It explores our relationship with birdsong, which has become much more intense during the lockdown, and how people have been inspired by it, and how we connect to the natural world through it.  The producer invited me to say a little bit about myself and the process, as well as reading the poem.  So I’ve been learning how to record myself on my phone, which is one of many new tech experiences of this time.  The poem is The Blackbird – Lockdown 7.

I sat on my bench quite early in the morning, and did manage to capture some birdsong in the background, which was just perfect.  The blackbird was joining in, as is only right.  It’s his poem as much as mine.

Thank you for your virtual company through these poems – there are more in the notebook, wainting to emerge.


News from the Little Free Pantry.


litte free pantry 3

The pantry at its Harvest Festival launch

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you  may remember posts about the Little Free Pantry at St Andrew’s Church, Melton.  It’s a simple thing –  a place where anyone can leave some tins or other food, and anyone can take what they need.



Today at lunchtime

It was so sad that at the beginning of the lockdown we had to close the pantry for a while, but gradually, and in stages, and with much thinking, work and adjustment, it’s now up and running again!

It’s back in the church porch, 10 am to 5 pm, seven days a week.   There’s an extra table, with more space for fresh produce.
The ususal rules of keeping two metres apart apply.
It’s open for both giving and taking, no need to talk to anyone, just give what you can, take what you need.


I do believe it is a particularly important neighbourhood resource at the moment.  Shopping can be difficult for so many reasons – you or a family member may be vulnerable, money or time or transport may be hard to come by, the shopping experience may be anxious for all the kindness of the shopworkers.  The pantry is here, a sign of love, and of the hand of friendship we wish we could extend.

We have been so encouraged that people are making donations, and withdrawals, are joining in with this simple way of neighbours helping neighbours.

There are two other little free pantries in church porches nearby that we’ve heard of – in Grundisburg and Hasketon.  Do tell us if there are more.  It’s such a simple idea, and it works well with social isolation, maybe more places would like to set one up.


So, thank you to everyone who is using the pantry in any way.  May it bless you.


Poem: Alarm – Pause Lockdown Poems 10

Welcome to my series of Lockdown Poems, where I’m posting fairly free and unpolished jottings, writing of a life limited to my own patch.  Here is the tenth so far, and this one did not come from a time of quiet and contemplation, but from wandering around in a chilly breeze, checking all was well with the veggie patch.


Blackcurrant bush – a gift from a dear friend.  I do miss her. I hope the blackberries ripen.

So there’s more of that kind of unstructured thinking in it….
but what I wanted to record was how startling it was to hear a sound like a phone ringing, how much it felt like something from a different world, intruding on my calm.


Yes, the lettuices are doing well.  I’ll get some more started.

So with these pictures, we’re checking the progress of the future harvest, as we take a look around the garden.


Beans! good, at last.  I wonder how high they’ll grow this year?

We can take a seat in the shelter of these trees, and read the next poem.


Alarm – Pause  Lockdown Poems 10

The wind is cold,
blowing from the north
and I pull down my sleeves,
sheltering behind the trees.

I walk to the place where
the veggies and the soft fruit grows –
yes, they too are sheltered.
The wind does not reach them.

Gooseberries might do well here,
I think, and more blackcurrants,
wondering – can I order them?
Essential? Food?
Yes.  No. Perhaps. Don’t know.
But I do know this – it is good
to see growing things,
even these tiny growing things.

And a bird breaks in
as if from another world –
the bird who has learned
to alarm like a telephone.
Startled, I jump up,
but only for a moment,
and then other birds join
the song, weaving music
from that stark call,
softening its insistence.

The north wind blows still,
the loud world retreats again,
as the bluebells open,
as the pigeons strut
on the roof ridge,
and the whole green
glorious song pauses
a moment, steadying
its startled breath.


After a conversation with a friend, I thought I’d better point out that I did, in fact, order some fruit bushes from Chris Bowers.

My usual plant suppliers weren’t taking orders at the time, and it’s all quite variable, but nurseries could do with the business, and gardens could do with the plants.  I’m very much looking forward to them arriving, and growing, and fruiting!

Poem: Frogs – uncertainty Lockdown 8



Welcome back to the garden.  Today’s Lockdown Poem is a small piece about our small and rather scruffy pond.  It’s raised, and I’ve built a staircase of broken pots so that creatures can get in and out.  We’ve had frogs, and toads, and a couple of species of newt in the garden, but it takes real patience and dedication to catch them on camera – I haven’t managed it yet.

As I was trying to watch the frogs the other day, I couldn’t help thinking of the observer effect, and the uncertainty principle.    I am sharing lockdown with people interested in physics, so these things do come up from time to time.  Of course, these effects are very different from the difficulty of observing and counting frogs, but they do help shape how we think about looking at the world.  We know that there are things it’s hard for us to know for sure, and that our attempts to know things can disturb the things we wish to study.

And so the number of frogs in the pond remains a mystery, if I wish them to remain in the pond.  Like so many things, we know in part, and see in part.  And that’s good – for the frogs, and much else.

Metaphysical speculation aside, I hope you can take a moment to enjoy the garden, and the frogs.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to take a picture, and add it in here. For now, here’s the familiar bench, to sit awhile, and think of frogs and uncertainty.



Frogs – uncertainty.  Lockdown 8

There are frogs in this tiny pond
I should have cleared it,
made more room.
I have seen one, two, three maybe,
but to look, to try to count,
is to disturb them,
and I want them to stay.
I lean back, so my shadow
falls elsewhere.

The presence of frogs,
the knowledge of the
presence of frogs,
is joyful, so joyful,
I hang back, and give
them room.
I shall come back tomorrow,
early, and look again.