Skip to content

ABCD March 2023

March 28, 2023

Due to the after-effects of eye surgery (exhaustion and double vision), I did not go to the March 3rd meeting. The Dove-droppings were supplied by Clare, and photos were sent to me for this post.

On this occasion, Pauline was teaching “Limp binding” – a mediaeval structure that is much more interesting than it sounds. Here is a photo of Judy’s limp binding, tabbed binding, and another buttonhole binding. I have a particular fondness for books made with obsolete hydrographic charts.

Here are some photos of Judith’s limp binding, finished the next day.

Judith writes, of Fil Rouge: “finished just in time for my artist papermaking submission on theme of PAPER ALIVE! Fil rouge journey continues, this time even bigger and madder. It’s 30cm high x 39w X 4d. So a bit bigger than Keith Smith recommended max I now realise. Had to be quite wide to house the bamboo offshoots I sewed into pages. Actual pages more or less square.”

The two photo sbelow are of Clare’s delicious book of leaf and flower prints, made using the structure traught by Bron. Ecoprints of a local hedge, done in the first lockdown. It is roughly 9cm x 34 cm.  Watercolour paper, linen thread, raffia. 

Janine has completed two Dream-books, both incorporating beads and various shapes of windows.

Next meeting: Saturday 1st April, when Jane will be teaching a version of the Tunnel Book. Here’s one she made earlier. Again I won’t be there as I’ll be at the Teignmouth Poetry Festival. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Finally, the Dove-droppings, collected and edited this time by Clare.

March Dove droppings

hawthorn rollers
speaking from the sea
a treat for myself

we nearly had a riot
the Bay of Anarchists
order and chaos

burrow under here
this is quite a tight book
dark inside

a torn-up invitation
in a great big campervan
buckled in a couple of places

I wouldn’t make another
it’s a Dove-y thing
getting it wrong

you could
if you had a very very long thread
no you couldn’t

the piano hinge
at ten o’clock at night
that’s radical

determined to have another go
I’m embarked with her
flying by the seat of our pants

there aren’t any green leaves
people eating gluten
a bit weird down there

Two Rivers Turner
a brilliant cut
to the silver sea

One year on

February 24, 2023

A year ago today I compiled a found poem from the news on BBC Radio 4.

24th February 2022

flashes in the night smoke in the day
the roads are jammed
low rumble of military jets
civilians are buying guns and bullets
     we have no way of verifying this

Rolls-Royce down 14%
titanium comes from Russia
things we haven’t seen for eighty years
too late to change the price of a barrel of oil
     we have no way of verifying this

we’ve been at war for eight years already
you should have realised
all covid restrictions have ended
     we have no way of verifying this

sirens missile strikes overwhelming odds
a night in the subway
together we can prevent this 
even in a war you have to eat
     we have no way of verifying this

it was the worst minute of my life
I am afraid      suitcase ready
my children ask what will happen
we seek safety in bunkers
     we have no way of verifying this

a new iron curtain descending on Europe
cities are fortifying themselves
bombarded hit by missiles
how easily are we manipulated
     we have no way of verifying this

the whole world has gone topsy turvy
a day when decades are happening
she’s trying to not worry about her life
he has gone through the looking glass
     but we have no way of verifying this

Ama Bolton

Mary Cassatt

February 16, 2023

Bron Bradshaw writes: I want to flag up this film – and not just because I’m in it (for probably less than a minute!). Mary Cassatt’s etchings were inspirational to me in the eighties when I came across them, and in the film I demonstrate both her 3 plate colour printing technique and also drypoint. If you don’t know these works, look them up, and preferably, see the film. It’s on at Strode Theatre for International Women’s Day on 8th March. Look under ‘Live on Screen’ where they have put it, I don’t know why as it’s a film not a performance, It’s also on at Bridgwater, Minehead, Bruton and Exeter, to name just a few venues, all on the same day, which is great. You can find your nearest screening via this link.

The director Ali Ray’s last film was on Frida Kahlo, which I really enjoyed, so I’m looking forward to this one.

You can see Bron at the press for a few seconds in the trailer.

ABCD February 2023

February 5, 2023

Ten of the thirteen members of Artists’ Book Club Dove met yesterday morning in the Print Studio to share recent work and to learn a fiendishly baffling Guy Begbie variation on the piano-hinge binding that Carol had bravely volunteered to teach. (Thank you, Carol!) All of us were glad it was not a Zoom meeting and we could help one another along. And eat Clare’s nonpareil flapjacks. (Thank you Clare!)

Nina is still working on her dream-book, BEETLE, which is becoming very colourful. Photos will be posted when it’s finished. Here are some views of her long accordion-spine book made from blue-painted folios. This is the structure we were learning last month. The sections are pamphlet-stitched into both mountain and valley folds. Nina’s book has a lively, bouncy quality.

Judith‘s large-format Buttonhole binding is made from a huge charcoal drawing done in 1989, torn apart and machine-stitched onto washi paper. The charcoal cover and pages are sealed with beeswax polish. The book smells wonderful!
Miraculously, after all these years, Judith has found a photo of the drawing, and of the Dartington field it was drawn from.

There are echoes of Jane‘s earlier work on graters in her monochrome abstract sculptural Dream-book. With inspiration from Richard Long and Picasso, it is painted, rubbed with crayons, and printed with bubble-wrap and fingerprints. It is a perfect marriage of structure and content. It has 8 hinges and nine panels. Photos show both sides.

Ama. Here are some photos of my Buttonhole binding. On cotton rag paper pages dyed with vegetable waste I have handwritten a found poem written on a dreadful day when I avidly consumed the news on BBC Radio 4. The silk for the book-cloth was alum-mordanted and dyed with red cabbage leaves and onion skins. The cover is lined with a piece of marbled paper that has been lying in a drawer for years.

Pauline‘s “Massimo” book-in-progress is shown below. The pages are woodcut prints monoprinted on the reverse side.

Pauline brought two buttonhole books. One is a blank journal with a print on the cover. The other and its slip-case are painted and collaged with natural inks.

Caroline too used a print to cover a blank buttonhole-bound journal. her Dream-book has a Tibetan theme, with inscriptions and prayer flags.

Clare has started making a lovely Dream-book, reminiscent of architecture, or light streaming through woodland.The diagonal cuts are innovative but make for hinges that don’t quite work as hinges. However, it does fold flat.

Carol showed us a sample of the intricate structure she was to teach us after lunch.

Bron showed us her buttonhole book of ink recipes and samples. A section for each plant. It’s quite substantial – satisfyingly large and heavy.

Below are photos of Bron’s Dream-book, in progress and finished. “A new version of an old etching.”

Quote of the month: “If you have to take a Valium every time you sit down to paint, perhaps you should consider a different hobby.”

Our next meeting will be on 4th March. Meanwhile, here are the gleanings from my notebook:

February Dove-droppings

back to the cheese grater
and the gin boxes
I’ve got too much in there

it’s a triangular thing
it throws itself at you
but I like strings

the perfect red
a narrative thread
in Copenhagen

exploit the cardboard
it has legs and wings
body and soul

in Flinders Street Station
a diagonal dream
had a car crash

memories woven in
where the circular saw used to be
in the Music Museum

the butterfly’s right by the door
an idjery bit less than a centimetre
ease it up with a scalpel

heavy flaps don’t work
I can’t get it straight again
it’s coming out the back

you’ve got them back to front
it’s crept up on me
sailing a barge to Australia

Twelve Border Crossings

January 19, 2023

I shared a new poem in a Zoom workshop earlier this week.
Some of the poets were interested in hearing the story behind the poem. Here it is.

Martin and Ama’s journey home from India in the spring of 1977.

Our last night in India was spent in the Golden Temple at Amritsar. Our last supper in India was dhal and chapattis. Hundreds of us sat in rows cross-legged on the floor and lifted our bowls as the Sikh servers came past with their buckets and ladles. Food was given with grace and a sincere but abstract kind of love. We gave thanks in imperfect Hindi. Having spent much of the day negotiating the purchase of our train-tickets to Lahore, we gave away the last of our rupees.

For the first fifty miles, and the border crossing into Pakistan, we rode a slow train to Lahore, where we spent one night in a hotel with intermittent supplies of tap-water and electricity. Then another slow train for the long overnight journey via Rawalpindi to Peshawar and an early morning bus which jostled with gaudily painted trucks on the Grand Trunk Road under a fortified arch and into the Khyber Pass, Kipling’s “sword-cut through the mountains”.  We were on the two-thousand-year-old Silk Route.

The local men wore Chitral caps of felted wool and did not make eye-contact with us foreigners. Many carried firearms, some of which looked home-made. A young American was concerned for the safety of his sitar, wrapped only in a bedspread and stowed on the roof with the rest of the luggage – rucksacks, bedrolls, baskets and calico bundles and suitcases. Spring was beginning. Almond-trees were in blossom on rock-ledges high above us as we rumbled along the switchback road through the Hindu Kush into Afghanistan.

West of the mountains, we crossed a high plateau.  The few houses were square with domed roofs, built of mud bricks and blending perfectly into their surroundings. Petrol stations and roadside cafes were of the same construction: no garish signs, no neon tubes, nothing incongruous to detract from the austere and heart-stopping beauty of this place. We saw the occasional encampment of black felt tents. Flocks of fat-tailed sheep grazed nearby. The men wore long striped robes and plain turbans in pearl grey, sandy brown and dusty olive, the colours of the landscape. We came to Kabul at dusk: at the end of every street, a view of mountains.

At that time there were Nazi fugitives living comfortably in Kabul. We stayed one night in a German-owned hotel and then moved to an Afghan establishment across the street. Our room was whitewashed, with a vaulted ceiling. We had a hot bath, the first since leaving London five months earlier. The portable galvanised bath was filled with buckets of scalding-hot water. We paid per bucket. It was bliss. Afterwards we washed our travel-stained clothes in the bathwater. When they were dry, two or three days later, we rose before the sun and caught a bus to Kandahar, a day’s journey south-west on a dirt road. One night in a tiny hotel, then another bus at dawn westward to Herat.

We met Uwe while waiting for the bus from Herat to Masshad across the Iranian border. At home in Germany he was a wanted man. His Indian visa had expired and his passport would soon be out of date. The fleshy young man in the photo was dark-haired and wore a sour expression. The person we got to know over the next week was lean and sun-bleached and serenely Buddhist. Years of exile had changed his outlook. He was dependent on providence, not drugs. Now he was heading for Europe, hoping to slip back through the same porous border he’d crossed when first he went on the run. He wanted to see his mother. He needed a new passport and a new name.

Cars and trucks queued for miles, for hours, perhaps for days, at the Iranian border. At the customs building all passengers got off the bus and walked down a long corridor lined with glass cases displaying dissected vehicle parts, with captions stating what quantity of drugs had been found hidden inside them and how many years the smugglers had spent in prison. We had to empty our rucksacks for inspection. My bar of Chinese laundry-soap was cut in half. Eventually we re-joined the bus.

We spent one night in Masshad, in a dormitory room above a cafe; mattresses covered the floor with barely a hand’s-width between them. In the morning we ate breakfast downstairs: soft cheese with honey poured over it, and a glass cup of clear rose-scented tea, known as chai from India to Turkey. In India and Pakistan it was thick, sugary and milky, in Afghanistan green or black, sweet and often flavoured with cardamom, and served from Russian porcelain teapots seamed with breaks that had been glued and riveted. In Turkey it was black, sometimes mint- or apple-flavoured, served in a small tulip-shaped glass with two sugar-lumps resting briefly in the neck before they dissolved.


On a doorstep half in, half out of the sun,
white beard, dust-coloured turban,
he drills holes in a rose-patterned shard
held between his boot-soles,
the drill spun by a gut-strung bow.

From the Khyber Pass westward to Iran
I didn’t see one china teapot
that had not been glued and riveted:
a map of fine lines overlaid
on the field of flowers.

I have heard that Chinese enamelware has now replaced the Russian porcelain.

Months earlier, in Madras, we had been warned by an American who had taught English in Tehran to avoid the new-year holiday, Nowruz. We failed entirely to stick to our plan.We arrived in Iran at the end of the holiday season, and trains to Tehran were fully booked. Ticket-clerks at Masshad train station treated us with the contempt we so clearly deserved; our request for tickets met with the standard dismissal – an upward and sideways jerk of the chin, attention directed to the next person in the queue.

Eventually Martin, Uwe and I succeeded in buying tickets to a station one or two stops along the line. When we reached that point we vacated our seats and moved along to the restaurant-car, where a steward who was keen to practice his English befriended us and allowed us to stay for the remainder of the overnight journey to Tehran. Once there, we made for the bus station and booked tickets to the Turkish border near Tabriz. The waiting-room was crowded with families. We sat on the floor and waited for our bus. It was very early the next morning when we reached the border.

Mount Ararat’s snow-capped peaks loomed above the crossing-point. Once again there was a long queue of traffic waiting to pass through. On the Turkish side we had breakfast – a satisfying sort of savoury rice porridge or soup – at a small cafe. It was very good. From the nearby town of Doğubeyazıt we travelled by bus to Erzurum, a busy city. Both places have a history going back to pre-Roman times. We bought bread and fruit in the market before boarding another bus heading through the mountains northward to Trabzon (Trebizond) on the Black Sea coast.

Here we waited two or three days for the next boat to Istanbul. We spent the time exploring the town and a nearby Byzantine church. Turkish hospitality was such that it was hard to pay for a cup of tea or coffee. We would sit down and order, and someone would come over and talk to us. When we rose to leave, the waiter would tell us our bill had already been paid. Later, in the thoroughly modern cosmopolitan city of Istanbul, it was a different story. Television sets had replaced conversation, and foreigners were two-a-penny.

The ferry took a day and a night, stopping at a couple of places along the coast. We sailed into Istanbul at dawn. The waterfront was lined with tall wooden houses with balconies overlooking the Bosphorus. The city’s beauty took our breath away.

Our German companion Uwe set off homeward then, and Martin and I spent a few days in the city. We were invited to lunch with his great-aunt Merope in her elegant flat in Yeşilköy, a resort on the Marmara Sea. She was the last remaining member of a Levantine Greek family who had stayed on in Turkey. Our conversation was in French.

The next morning we took the train to Yeşilköy again. We hitchhiked from here on a road that ran straight to the Greek border. As we walked across a wooden bridge into Greece the air seemed to grow warmer. The main road followed the coastline towards Thessaloniki. By nightfall we had got as far as Kavala. There was little traffic, and we were looking for a quiet spot to unroll our sleeping-bags when another car approached. The driver stopped and offered to take us to Thessaloniki. He had a two-way radio and we wondered if we’d hailed a taxi by mistake. Auto-stop we told him – we are hitchhikers. He grinned. Politsai! he said. After stopping in Thessaloniki to ring his mother, he drove us all the way to the Yugoslav border, where he bought us supper, and a puzzle-ring each in the souvenir shop. He was one of the angels on our journey. There would be many more.

It was a long wait before the next lift. The driver dropped us outside Skopje and we walked around the ring-road until we saw a signpost to Beograd. A family with two children took us most of the way there, and gave us two Easter eggs that had been boiled in something to colour them – coffee perhaps – and a folk-art design had been scratched through to the white shell. That was our supper. We camped in a half-built car showroom. In the morning we got a lift to Beograd and once again followed the signs, this time for Zagreb.

In the cities, people were stylishly dressed and there was at least one hairdresser on every street. In the countryside we saw ox-drawn carts and an Archimedes Screw to raise water from a well. The roads were rough and the driving was fast and frightening. Roadside shrines marked the sites of fatal accidents.

Two cheerful young women in a Fiat 500 stopped for us. We crammed ourselves and our rucksacks and bed-roll into the back seat. Car is small! said our driver. We conversed in a mixture of English, French and Russian. When their route diverged from ours, they left us by the roadside with a parting gift of bread and cheese. We spent the night in a stable, listening to a horse moving about in the next loose box.

The next day we reached the Austrian border, where we were lucky enough to meet the driver of a minibus.  The vehicle was returning empty to Dortmund and he offered to take us all the way, warning us that he would be stopping for nothing but petrol. In fact he stopped for more hitch-hikers, a group of German students who were returning from an Easter break in Italy. We chatted happily all the way. Hearing that we were from Liverpool, a girl called Martina asked if we knew John Brady, who had been busking in Germany the previous summer. Oh yes, said Martin, he lives in the flat above mine! Give him my love, said Martina.

We crossed Austria without stopping. The countryside was incredibly tidy. All the rest of that day we travelled through Germany on the autobahns. The driver left us at a service-station near Dortmund sometime after midnight. We sat in the cafe and made each cup of coffee last as long as possible. At first light we started hitching on the slip-road.

A French woman and her grown-up son stopped for us in their dented 2CV. We soon realised that they could read neither the road-signs nor the map, and Martin took over as navigator. We crossed Holland and Belgium and entered Northern France. We waved goodbye to them in light drizzle at a roundabout just outside Arras, their home town.

To our astonishment a sleek black car with tinted windows and diplomatic numberplates stopped to give us a ride. The driver was an Italian returning to work at the embassy in London after a visit home. At Calais we bought our ferry tickets and shared a sandwich for lunch. The amiable diplomat, with us two dirty hippies in the back seat, was waved through Customs and Immigration at Dover. He dropped us off at an Underground station in central London. The record time for hitchhiking from Istanbul to London was said to be three days. We were happy to have done it in five.

We arrived at Martin’s parents’ house in Woodford Green late that afternoon, heads full of stories, pockets empty.

This is a book of twelve Turkish map-fold pages that I made to contain the story. I later gave it to Martin, my travelling-companion.

ABCD January 2023

January 7, 2023

Thanks to Thalia for the use of her account, eight members of Artists’ Book Club Dove met on Zoom this morning, to catch up on our doings since the last meeting, and to learn from Bron how to make a “Massimo Book”, a very versatile and flexible structure with folios sewn onto the valleys and peaks of an accordion-fold spine. It can be displayed flat or standing or hung on a wall. Ideal for the ACE exhibition space. We’ll be showing our work there 3-10 June this year.

Clare showed us some pages from a thick sketchbook of watercolours from her annual visit to Scilly in September. The wonderful sea colours, turquoise and Mediterranean blue, reminded me of my recent (October) visit to the West coast and islands of Scotland.

Nina has made a “Dream Book”.

Judy sent photos of her Massimo book “Blue”, and a recent mokuhanga print.

Pauline has made two beautiful buttonhole books.

Thalia is gathering materials and experimenting with a dream book, letting herself be guided by the materials, the shapes and patterns they make and the way they want to work.

Judith is using a sewing machine to sew photographs together. The reverse side is as interesting as the image side. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

Bron has made a very satisfying buttonhole book of tree-dye recipes and samples.

I (Ama) have at last finished the (plant-dyed and handwritten) pages for my buttonhole book. I hope to have bound it before our next meeting on February 4th. Meanwhile, here are today’s gleanings from my notebook.

January Dove-droppings

every day the wrong day
more difficult and risky
more floods coming

here be dragons
it’s a place of good colours
big boulders and windswept trees

which is Purgatorio
when everything’s on hold

save the blue and gold
for heaven
three stitches for a rune

it’s frozen
in the valleys and the peaks
the bees and the undergrowth

don’t cut anything off
go big
go forth

ABCD December 2022

December 11, 2022

Six of us met yesterday in Jane’s house on Chalice Hill for our last meeting of the year. I don’t think the temperature outside rose above freezing all day, but we were warm, and happy to be together again. We looked at some Buttonhole books. Here is one by Bron. The pages are products of her experiments with botanical inks, sourced from trees at the Dove, on Khadi paper. At a guess the book is about 30cm square when closed.

Jane’s buttonhole book is roughly the same size. It holds a variety of Himalayan handmade papers dyed by Jane mainly with indigo and rust. The signatures are pamphlet-stitched onto an accordion which is then buttonhole-bound. It is a thing of great beauty.

Another buttonhole book by Jane documents our extraordinary first collaboration, De Fence Pages, an installation made on the fence behind the Dove Print Studio at the time of the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq nearly twenty years ago. See also Bron’s buttonhole book on the same subject in my previous post.

Janine has made a pretty little buttonhole book covered in silk book-cloth. It’s A6 size.

After our sumptuous bring-and-share lunch I demonstrated what I have learned from experience (not tuition) of making Mark Wangberg’s Dream Book structure. It was an afternoon of playing with cardboard and skewers and exploring possibilities. It’s liberating to work with materials that cost little or nothing, and to measure everything by eye or by the width of a ruler. Below are a couple of photos. First open and then folded flat.

Here are a couple of dream-books I made some years ago. The central panel of Corvus Corax has a bird that can be revolved, pivoting on a hidden paper-fastener. Both books are painted and collaged on both sides of the pages.

Lastly, the edited eavesdroppings from the day.

December Dove-droppings

two magpies in the little tree
one is in leather and a bit fancy
not exposed to the light

the Japanese archivist’s method
with a bit of deckchair canvas
a bit of ribbon

I love you on a strip of paper
for that five minutes
in a war zone

get the x-rays
the ballet and the music
but not Tchaikovsky

all the cultural treasures
they even took away the tomb
the skull of the golden man

how many countries between there and the sea
even in Shropshire I feel uneasy
see the Severn Estuary from Chalice Hill

the imprint of the stones
we need a henge here lads
chalk pits the depth of a house

everything is an invitation
bring them back the way you took them in
tapdancing in the attic

little pots of ammonia
all round my garden with a listening stick
they send a rat down with a camera

kites flying from the roof
birds on springs
a revolving door

build the Sagrada Familia
looking like gold
a library of dreams

Posted by Ama Bolton on 11th December.

ABCD November 2022

November 15, 2022

Eight members of Artists’ Book Club Dove met on a sunny November day to catch up after Somerset Art Weeks and to make a Buttonhole Binding with help from Judy. Bron reported a successful and enjoyable SAW, though with fewer visitors than in 2019.
She has recently been in Venice for the Biennale and other exhibitions, including one of folded paper ‘aggregations’ by Kwang Young Chun.

Judith has recently returned from Sarawak and Vietnam bringing treasures with her, including bark-cloth from Kuching and hemp and paper from remote villages in Vietnam. I’m looking forward to seeing them used in future books!

We were at different stages of preparedness, but some of us managed to complete a Buttonhole book. Here are Carol’s, Jane’s, Judy’s and mine.

And here is one made many years ago by Bron, following the instructions for the soft-cover Buttonhole binding given in Keith Smith’s book ‘Books without Paste or Glue’ (Non-Adhesive Bindings, Volume 1) page 171ff.

Our next meeting will be on December 10th, when I shall be encouraging the others to make “Dream Books”, a fun and versatile structure invented in a dream by Mark Wangberg. After that, meetings will be every four weeks until April, with a different binding being taught/revised each time. The idea is that each of us will have six books, one in each structure, for our next exhibition. This will be at ACEarts in Somerton next June.

Until we meet again, here is a mash-up of quotations from the day.

November Dove-droppings

the ethnobotanist knew
by the length of the day
the cat stole my pricker

the Launderers
are all packed away
in nightclubs

my hens are menopausal
in a flowery National Trust way
just let them go

a booklet of lampoons
turned up in Louisville
in a clamshell box

it finishes mid-sentence
turning to clay
in the British Library

clay and paper string
persuaded him not to prosecute
the silent sneeze

even in the cafeteria
her own aeroplane
is made to be burnt

I’m in recovery
turning to nature
I need a bit more retrospect

I’m not a perfectionist
folding triangles for seventeen years
just get it right

you need a minuscule or two
you’ve got more elephants
are you satisfied?

Posted by Ama Bolton on 14 November 2022


November 13, 2022

I’m grateful to Marilyn and Howard Timms for including two poems of mine, with recordings of me reading them, in their “Remembrance” issue of Wildfire Words. Both my Grandfathers fought in Normandy in the First World War. Both survived, one to become a successful architect, the other, damaged both by the expereience of combat and by his time as a prisoner of war, to abandon his family in Canada, where he died in 1969 of a surfeit of Canada Club whisky. His wife, with two young children, made her way back to her parents in England and worked as a housekeeper. One of her employers was a Scottish landowner who was exceptionally kind to me when I went to stay at the age of four.

‘Lest We Forget’

The granite glitters in late-autumn sun,
listing the wartime dead by name and date.
Our local limestone’s memory is short:
the words would fade, erased by acid rain.

Each scarlet poppy is a blush of shame
for shattered men who begged on London streets,
for victory bought with personal defeat,
for body-parts buried without a name,

for Grandad with his Military Cross
his nightmares and his whisky-happy days,
for horror hidden in a hackneyed phrase,
for each November’s litany of loss.

Memories are short. Smart-bomb and drone
make mockery of letters cut in stone.

The Round Garden at Pityoulish

On the shore of the loch
he built a walled garden
crossed by two paths

I drew it for years
a cross in a circle
a spell to remember
a summer of wonder

a boathouse where sunlight
slipped in through the cracks
bright stripes in the darkness 
duckboards underfoot

a boat that he nudged
into open water
nosing through whisper
and chirrup of reedbeds

pines on the far shore
hills blue with distance
heat-haze and oar-creak
and the gift of kindness
from a childless man

Seventy years later
I discover his story

a young wife
a young son
both lives cut short
just ten days apart

heartsick and smarting
I scroll the Google map
click to satellite
zoom till the dark squares
tumble into
soft unfocussed
blueblack water

follow the shoreline

no sign of a boathouse

no trace of a garden

And I’m delighted to have a poem in One Sentence Poems this week. Here it is. There was a reason I wrote it first in French, but I’ve forgotten what it was.

Un Autre Fois

Dans un autre bois
un autre soir
on vient voir
les feux de l’automne
et la pluie pointilliste
la pluie qui lave
les feuilles vermoulues
sur lesquelles sont écrits
les quatre vingt dix neuf
prénoms du dieu.

Another Time

In another wood
another evening
we come to see
autumn fires
and pointillist rain
that washes clean
the worm-eaten leaves
on which are written
the nine and ninety
names of god.

Posted by Ama Bolton 13 November 2022

Goodbye, Marigold

October 14, 2022

Marigold was rescued from slaughter by Pear Tree Farm in April last year and we adopted her, along with her sister Sweet Pea. Within days she was jumping onto my lap for treats. She was a chatterbox, always greeting us with clucks and purrs and chirrups. She allowed the grandchildren to cuddle her. She was dearly loved. Last month she stopped laying. Then she went downhill with salpingitis. Now she is buried in the backyard beside dear Hari. “Only a hen”, but she leaves an aching gap in my life. No-one should die unmourned.

A poem about Hari Rama the Brahma hen, from ‘The Flossie-Raptor’, Barley Books 2021