Poems to bear witness to the beguiling baffle of all these lovely days.
In the Venn diagram where the circles of poetry and prayer overlap, there’s a sweet spot. An overlooked place where a found poem finds that at any moment the numinous is hiding in plain sight.
It’s where I found Julian of Norwich’s Teabag, the title poem of a new collection of poems published by Wild Goose Books. A mystic and visionary, Julian of Norwich is likely the first woman to be published in the English language — along with her local contemporary, Margery Kempe.
In one of Julian’s regular transcendental experiences she was holding a hazelnut in her hand when she suddenly understood that it was… everything. Everywhere. Ever. All At Once.
Drawing on my much weaker signal, I had a similar transcendent moment reaching under the kitchen sink to lift the lid of the compost bin.
‘It is all that is made.’ That’s Julian, in Norwich
Tripping on a hazelnut in her 14th century grip
My trip is this teabag, giving up its love
This perforated planet, in my steaming mug…’
This collection goes in search of the sweet spots, the pin on the daily map where the mundane comes clean with some unlikely confession.
These are not poems for when the Big Light comes on above you, for the hour when you first believed, for the place where the two roads diverged in the yellow wood and you took the one less travelled because, well, you had to take one of them.
These are poems found in days you weren’t planning to think twice about, days when some passing second calls your name and tries to persuade you it contains more than itself.
As you notice the dawn light dissect the curtains or try to appear awake on a Zoom call or follow your clothes on rotation in the launderette.
These are poems found as the first cup of tea brews in the morning and the recycling lorry trundles down the street; as the children grow up and someone you love dies; as we rage against life and as love brings us home.
Poems to bear some faint witness to the beguiling baffle of all these lovely days.
‘We’re only here a little while
It takes a life to take life in
The daily quiz, the question why
Love and friendship are everything…’