Books I read in April 2022

Dragon Rider #2: The Griffin’s Feather, Cornelia Funke

Another exciting tale of magical creatures, with lots of thoughts about conservation and wildlife.


India: one man’s personal journey round the continent, Sanjeev Bhaskar

The fact that Sanjeev Bhaskar is part of the Indian Diaspora and visited India as a child gives him a really good perspective on India, as both insider and outsider. He also writes in a very engaging way, so this book is easy to read. The TV series it was written to accompany was also very good, and both the book and the series explore the multifaceted nature of modern India. He also writes very movingly about Partition, the massacres that took place, and its effects, both on his family and on India and Pakistan.

“into the twilight woods”

Twilight. Betwixt. Liminal.
The setting sun
Making an archway
Through the trees
A window to infinity.

Things half-seen
In the mazy places.
Not sure where this path goes.
Maybe through, or within.
Some hollow place.

The half-light transforms
Known into unknown.
The woods drift between.
Trees asleep,
Nocturnal animals stirring.

Shadows gather.
Time stretches out,
Ready to pounce.
One star. Night’s eye.
Colours drain away.

Everything waits
For moonrise,
To flood the woods
With silver.

Yvonne Aburrow
8:15 am, 29 April 2022


Inspired by the phrase “into the twilight woods” in Iowa City: Early April by ROBERT HASS

“three large rabbit-breaths of air”

See the world as a rabbit sees it.
Wide angle view,
Not straight ahead
As a predator sees,
But sidelong, as prey animals see.

Long shadows,
Tall grass.
Noting every hiding place.
Ready to bolt
At the first sign
Of predators.
Each breath taken
Short and shallow.
Darting from shelter
To shelter.
Grass here,
Lettuce there.
Sun is warm,
Earth is kind.

Yvonne Aburrow
7:50 am, 28 April 2022

Inspired by the phrase “three large rabbit-breaths of air” in the poem My Weather by Jane Hirshfield

Nonetheless

None of the poems I read today
Spoke into the depths
Nor raised an answering echo.
Petrarch, Chaucer, Donne,
Whispering their plaints into the soft air
Fell to earth, drifting ash.
Nonetheless I wrote this,
To record the ensuing silence.


Yvonne Aburrow
27 April 2022

The uncomplaining stars

The low cosmic hum
Of all the stars
singing the worlds into being.
Who can know the thoughts of a star,
Or how they compose
The music of the spheres?
What faults might stars commit
That they fall to earth
A bolt from the infinite,
Becoming finite, massy?
If they look upon the pale blue dot
And hear the tumult,
Do they not complain
Of the marring of their music?
Or is the discordant theme
Woven into the greater music?

Yvonne Aburrow, 8:00 am, 26 April 2022

Inspired by the line “The uncomplaining stars composed their lucid song” in Voltaire at Ferney by W H Auden (1939). With a nod to the retired stars Ramandu and Coriakin in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C S Lewis, and the music of the Ainur in JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. And of course, a nod to Carl Sagan’s awesome meditation, The Pale Blue Dot, which was inspired by this photograph.

Ramandu, by Pauline Baynes

The line of prayer

Roots pushing down
Into the dark earth
To find the mother.

A tendril of incense smoke
Seeking the stars.

Sparks from the fire
Riding the currents of air,
Winking out in the night.

Water threading its way
Through caves
Ready to be reborn
Into the light.

Love finding its way
Through the cracks
In the pavement.

A hand extended
To caress or bless.
Reaching for the sun.

The heart’s rhythms
Exploring the depths
Of the underworld.

A thread of gold
Snaking through the clouds
Of the unknown.

Inspired by the phrase “the line of prayer” in Some feel rain by Joanna Klink

Coven structure & roles

I recently listened to an interesting podcast from Circle Talk: Four Witches on Coven Hierarchy. I was pleased to note that most of the speakers on the podcast were advocating for a pretty flat hierarchy. I have written a fair amount about the roles and expectations of the different degrees in Wicca (in All acts of love and pleasure: inclusive Wicca) and quite a lot about coven leadership and the concept of “elders” (in The Night Journey: Witchcraft as Transformation). I regard the Wiccan degree system as being like the apprenticeship system in medieval guilds (apprenticeship, journeyman, master). There was very little in the podcast that I disagreed with, except the one guy who makes his first degree coveners clean the coven brassware. I’m with the woman who said she is happy when people volunteer to help, but she doesn’t make them do tasks.

Continue reading

I am the Earth

If you hold a shell up to your ear
Then you can hear
The oceans in your blood.

If you stand or sit or lie
Then you can feel
The earth’s crust in your bones.

If you focus on your breath,
Then you can sense
The air that gives us life.

If you touch your belly’s curve
Then you caress
The fire that lives within.

If you know that these are sacred
Then your body knows
You are the Earth and the Earth is you.

Without the oceans, trees,
And birds and bees,
There is no Earth, there is no me.

The Earth is sacred,
The Earth gives us life
There is no planet B.

Yvonne Aburrow
7:20 am, 22 April 2022 (Earth Day)

Inspired by the phrase “I am the Earth and the Earth is me” in Earth Day by JANE YOLEN.

submerged peaks

Just out of the corner
Of your conscious mind
Something lurks in the shadows:
A half forgotten memory
Surfacing from below.
A shark or a whale
Sliding through dark water.
The mountain of a lost continent,
Land of make-believe
And childhood imaginings,
Or some drowned feeling
Covered in seaweed.
Not quite reachable,
Not quite visible,
But it leaves a trace
As it heaves through
The dark oily water.

Yvonne Aburrow (8:28 am, 21 April 2022)

Inspired by the phrase “submerged peaks” in Great Ships
by ADAM ZAGAJEWSKI
translated by CLARE CAVANAGH

El Bajón is an underwater mountain near the fishing village of La Restinga in El Hierro. Photo by Lukas Spieker.