Artwork by Jane Burn
Special Edition, Edited by Beth McDonough
Rievaulx Abbey with Sylvia
Your ice powers make the walls rise.
I watch light fall through high windows
right onto the grass at our feet. You stamp
and start to sing. Your bobble hat
bobs – one, two, three – as you climb
the stone staircase to survey
the whole of your realm. A boy, splendid
in Jack Wolfskin, claps. He begins
his Gaudete, processes the transept.
Rejoice: the great roof collapses
and is replaced by the sky.
Rejoice: we celebrate the flagstones,
worn away to grass, to air.
By Natalie Baron
………………..For Oona and Semele
Early mornings, mocked by the muse but not the sirens,
still tipsy from their song, I took the wrong trains,
walked into doors, adopted the penguin’s waddle.
I dreamt of the sea, eels, salmon;
pictured its tapered tail contract – then mount up waterfalls –
I who returned to my birthplace to spawn.
Laid relics of coquetry among their bones, a shoal
of mothers, lovely but worn. A second heart
lurched in my belly like a boat, a blessing from Rimbaud.
My womb became a veilleuse for your soul,
until like Jonah spilled out on the shore,
I wondered which of us was born.
By Zoe Karathnasi
I never asked for this you know
this blessing, this heavenly height
which no woman can possibly reach.
As for the mysteries of my womb
please – don’t ask!
Any Jewish mother thinks her son God
but this was no joke I tell you,
I was so young
and blue was never my colour.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful
knowing what he did and said
but being chosen doesn’t bring laughs
as my people know: tsouris mit tsouris.
As a boy he was a bit of a lobbas,
way too smart for anyone
it was inevitable he should be a rabbi;
but such a hell raiser?
If I’m really honest
I’d have preferred a nice girl
to help me cook and fetch
light the Shabbat lights
then I would’ve been a grandma.
What can I do? Carpenter or Messiah,
you’re a mother – you love; you love – you lose
and losing them hurts like nothing else.
You yell at them to stay safe
you hate them for throwing their lives away,
but you never stop loving
and he decided to love the whole world.
By Rachael Clyne
Saint Anthony, Patron Saint of Lost Causes.
Mixing bowl, spoon, greaseproof paper
on the Formica. Cake tin greased.
Ready in floral pinny Mum asks
Anybody seen the cake mix?
Cupboard doors bang shut, wobbly
she climbs scanning top shelves.
St Anthony, can you help me?
Pots bang, rearranged, St Anthony
that’s enough. You know where it is.
The fridge is opened, her purse,
quite chilled, removed.
The laundry basket’s rifled.
Ok St Anthony, it’s only a Mary Baker
mix. I’ll give you a pound.
She’s under the sink now moving
scourers and Brasso, finds the sugar.
St Anthony! It’s for the kid’s pals’
supper tonight. Ok £2. Top offer
The hot oven’s mouth drops
open. On the middle shelf
in glorious Technicolor sits
the box of Devil’s Food cake-mix.
By Finola Scott
The Sweet Silver Song
Rita, Keith and I are in the British Legion
to choose a menu for the wake.
We’re at the end of the long bar.
It’s early afternoon and the Staff are busily
taking stock to the sound of music
piped through speakers.
Rita points to the far end of the bar-
Dad’s photo is pinned to the Obituary board
if you want to take a look.
I know it’s the one where he’s sitting at a table
wearing his green Liverpool away shirt.
He’s grinning, offering a pint to the camera.
The instant I stand in front of the photo,
smiling back at him, a shower of silver words
rain from the speaker above my head:
‘When you walk through a storm
hold your head up high
and don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm there’s a golden sky
and the sweet silver song of the lark…’
This tune, our bonding song down all the seasons,
gives me my life’s one holy moment,
washing away my grief.
I stand in baffled silence, innocent as an infant,
reunited with my father until the last note fades.
I walk on, a sinner
ambushed by angels.
By Eddie Gibbons