The Burning Issue

It ignites

And relights.

Spits and cracks,

Sparks and falls,

Like fireflies

It lights up the night.

Transient flashes of

Haphazard momentary memories –

Embers of the past.

This fire of

Curious attention

To fleeting visions

Is ablaze and calling …




Alabaster Queen

Sagging cloth, swathed

About her hips,

Arms folded

Beneath her breasts

Of milky alabaster.

Once maiden,

She now rests

In her stillness

And stands apart.

Upon her head

Lies heavy still

The ones she bore.

She holds them up,

And glances down

With heavy brow

And shoulders stooped.

Once rope-like hair


And Cascades

About her


And woven flowers


At her feet.


… oOo …



I’ve come to listen to

A talk

About the menopause

At work.

It’s dead embarrassing



The only reason

I’ve come,

Is because

You get a goodie-bag …


I’m sitting at the back

And reading my emails

And not looking

At my colleagues

Who are all

Glued to the


And the woman

At the front

Who I’m trying

Not to look at …


Hot flushes! – huh, yes!

Doesn’t everyone get them at my age?

Just put up with it don’t you?

We’re not stupid you know!

Fatigue … of course,

I’m 50 and …

In THIS job

Who wouldn’t be tired –

Everyone’s tired.

Aren’t they?

Itchy skin? Oh!

I thought that was just my washing powder.

Feeling anxious? Oh!

Irritable? – well yes, who isn’t,

These days!

Aching joints? Oh!

Huh, insomnia!!!!

Well, I just can’t sleep!

Maybe I should listen to this woman

After all.

‘Cos I took time off recently –

I couldn’t wake up

In the morning

Last Wednesday,

And the Thursday before …

And two weeks ago

I took two days off too …

I’m just so tired.


So there are choices

She’s saying?

I can get help

She’s telling us?

Speak to my GP?

Tried that …

Oh – ok!  So that’s what I need to say – cheers!

What? My employer has a responsibility …

To do the right thing?

“Reasonable adjustments”

What are they?

A Menopause Policy!


And so I – what was that?

I need to take responsibility too?

“Manage” my menopause? Hmmm!

Maybe I’m perimenopausal then?

Never heard of that before.

So I’m not going mad after all,

Or just getting old …

When I forget

A meeting

A deadline

A course.


I’ve put my phone away now and

I’m listening.

But if it is

All a load of rubbish

Well …

At least I’ll still get

A goodie-bag!


… oOo …


Woman in a Striped Dress

She looks into the distance

Her grey hair –

A waterfall

Cascading over her back.

Her mouth turns down at the corners,

Not in anger,

But in focussing

On her walk through ferns

She gathers for her paintings.

Her earrings – giant, white, metal

Dangle and clang

From her earlobes

Against her neck

Like heavy bags of shopping.

And as she stoops,

The sun

Lights the side of her face

Like a crescent moon.

Her dark eyes, beneath heavy lids


She chooses flowers and ferns

Lifts them to her breast

Like babies before.

Her striped dress,

Wide in rainbow colours

Lies stiff against her body

And bares her shoulders

And strong arms.

Her suprasternal notch

Spills a pool of sweat

As she bends again

And collects.

When satisfied

And with laden arms,

She will return.

With paint and brush,


She will

Preserve them

On her canvas cloth.


… oOo …




To read a book?

Or to lie in the bath

Letting the gentle pressure

Of the water

Play on my skin.

Or to shake my hair

As I walk by the sea

And invite its salty stickiness

To kiss my head.

Or linger in the arms of

The one I love

And feel his warmth,

His breath.

To stroke soft faces

Of my children

And children’s children.

Or on a palette

Create colours

For the landscape,

And fruit and flowers,

And people.

To move to the piano

And enjoy the senses

Of the smooth keys

Beneath my fingertips.

Or to catch the words

That fill my mind

And place them

On a page.

To walk through the garden

And listen to the wind

Through the trees,

The gentle clucking of the hens,

The rumble of traffic in the distance?

Or look into that distance,

Just look

And notice.

Or to lie in bed,

With windows wide

A cool sea-breeze stroking my face,

And arms,

And listen

To waves breaking

On tumbling stones.