A Long Walk
i.m. Clare Holtham
Where have you gone since you died?
What stream, river or lake have you reached?
What grass bank, a rough armchair, holds you,
solitary, happy, eyes skimming the water?
What clear weather, what blood-warm summer day
lulls you, watching a shining beetle scale
and tip a grass stalk? What are you wearing? –
thin cotton kaftan from the Seventies,
stripes in green, blue, yellow-ochre, as though
painted with this landscape: the yellow sand
of the stream-bed, water-meadows, reflections?
When your eyes opened here, did your pulse quicken?
Are you light-hearted again, tranquil?
Yes, you may return to any hour you want,
burst out from the grey lecture hall after
the last exam; if you like, run to the Cam,
see strong eddies under the weir spinning
the green rainbows of handsome Drakes,
the Mrs Puddleducks bobbing and quacking.
Go on, walk for miles. Let grey willows
trail their pennant leaves for you, each movement
on this blustery June day a mirror-dance.
Your desire was always to finish something,
then to be miles away in an instant:
this magic carpet suits you down to the ground,
not minding your hard seat, the lumpy grass,
watching brown gnats build pyramids
over fussing water, counting Kingfishers.
Dilys Wood read English at Cambridge, Newnham College. While in the Civil Service she did interesting jobs, including, while in the Cabinet Office, Secretary to the Women’s National Commission, which confirmed a lifelong interest in women’s issues. She set up in 1994 an organisation, Second Light Network to support women poets. This is now a large membership organisation publishing the all-woman poetry journal ARTEMISpoetry and organising an annual programme of readings and tutored workshops. Second Light Publications has published (in co-operation with other publishers) four anthologies of women’s poetry, three co-edited by Dilys, including Images of Women, 2006 (with Arrowhead Press). Her own poetry collections are Women Come to a Death (Katabasis) and Antarctica (Greendale Press). Dilys co-edits ARTEMISpoetry with changing guest editors, also selecting a guest poetry editor for each issue with the aim of keeping the magazine open and accessible. Anyone wishing to see a specimen copy of ARTEMISpoetry free of charge should e-mail, with their postal address, to firstname.lastname@example.org.