This is Market Place in Frome. I was born a hundred yards or so behind the buildings to the left. Nearer the top and to the right, up Cork Street, is where I first went to school and learned to read and write. There are some plain names in Frome, and the narrow street to the right where you can see a set of headlights is Stony Street, which is where Deborah Harvey and I read at Frome Poetry Cafe, run by Crysse Morrison in The Garden Cafe.
The theme was ‘new beginnings, green shoots,’ there was a full house of twenty to thirty, with most people reading at the open mic. It was a very welcoming evening, at which there was no need for an actual mic – I have of course in the past toyed with the idea of performing as Open Mike, but there’s probably enough of that to be going on with for now. So, many thanks Crysse and everyone for welcoming us and reading, and Deborah for sharing the gig.
The beginning I began with was my own beginning to read another hundred yards or so away at what was then St Louis Convent. I was in Kindergarten and our teacher was Mrs Kite. I remember another classmate there, as we played with plastic letters, solemnly informing me that the rainbow contained a letter A which was filled with holy water, and that if you drank it you died and went to Hell. This was not orthodox teaching, you understand, but it gives you a flavour of my early education. I also remember being given a reading book to take home and being instructed to read the page about a feather. Maybe we had practised it, I can’t recall, but I’ve retained a vivid sensation of knowing I was actually reading to myself about this feather.
Deborah and I both read poems from our collections, and more recently written ones, including one or two that will feature in the poetry walk with he IsamBards at Arnos Vale Cemetery on 8th March 1.30 (book online, limited places) Deborah also read us a poem about when once, as she was drove up to a zebra crossing, a fox was waiting – and crossed when the car stopped. And before those of us not staying in Frome or thereabouts headed off for Bristol through the moony tail end of Storm Ciara, I read the following. And next time I’ll tell you about snowdrops in Shepton Mallet and also Poets for The Planet and the upcoming Lyra Festival
A fox’s late winter blessing
May soil go soft beneath your claws
to give you beetles grubs and worms
the alleyways be full of food, the roots
and stones conspire to keep you dry.
May your nose know all the languages
of dead and living. May everything
by its nose learn your range and kin,
your songs shake sleepers from their dreams.
May cats and dogs who think they’re hard
see your teeth and think again.
May seagulls never get there first
and wires and highways not restrain you.
On long green evenings or belated dawns
may your own kits play on and on
moon after moon, and even after
this city itself has gone.