Born Catherine Sawbridge on the 23rd March 1731, she gained an informal education in her father’s library alongside her brother at their family home in Kent. She moved to London in 1760, upon her marriage to Dr George Macaulay and three years later published the first of her extensive eight volume History of England that spanned from the succession of James I to the Revolution. Part way through the third volume of her history, her husband passed away, leaving her widowed with a single daughter (Catherine Sophia) from the marriage. She remained in London for a while, before moving to Bath in 1774 where she met her second husband William Graham. The marriage caused scandal. As the brother of her physician, son of a saddle maker, and only a mere Surgeon’s Mate1, William was considered beneath Mrs Macaulay. They remained together until her death on the 22nd June 1791 at the age of sixty at their home in Binfield on the Thames, near Windsor. In her memory, William dedicated a memorial to her in the …
The sign says no running, and the tiles are slickwith water sloshed up from bodies heavingsoaked costumes over the ceramic edge.Blown out cheeks, red eyes, and tremble arms,one bloke who kick off as if it will propel him up,flailing mockery of a front crawl splatteringonto the pool edge where a teenage lifeguardsqueegees the flooded walkway back to damp,yellow shirt a symbol that he’s been trainedto fetch a brick from the depths of the deep end. Moves slow while his colleague plays cat’s cradle,with the whistle roped around their neck,discuss who will hose down the shower stalls,since the pool is almost empty now,apart from the elderly pair doing lengths,and a girl bone dry in the changing room archtelling herself to step out of the fringesbefore the clock on the wall ticks along furtherand the whistle is blown for the last call. I chose option three for tonight’s poetics prompt, and incorporated the word fringe into my poem. I’ll admit to feeling a little apprehensive about posting, especially when one of my previous poems got a shout …
The bins have been emptied,their silver bellies linedand sprayed to quell the stinkfrom last week’s puddling condensationtack dried at the base.In the background the washing thumps,thuds, thunks,throws itself around drum wetand clinging,till the spin cycle sticks it tightto the very edge of a whining whirl.Clementine clouds each counter,cloth swept of crumbs so they shine when the clouds part,sun splitting through the greyand spilling onto the tiles,knuckled into a gleam on hands and knees,so your face stares back up at metight lipped and furious,about to speak till the sponge cuts you off.I can soap over those featuresbut eventually it all dries outand there you are watermarkedsprawled across this floor,elbows and knees against the tiles,and the dishwasher bleeping that it is time. Tonight’s DVerse Challenge is to focus on adding a ‘turn’ or a ‘window’ into our poem. I’ll admit my focus has drifted slightly at the end of this, as something keeps beeping down in the kitchen and investigation is probably in order.
So many orphaned sorrows,I gather the castoffs,pluck stories by root,dirt clotted,waterlogged.Old tears still bloomwith dark, thickened flowers.In the potting shed I ease themone by one into terracotta bassinets.Pack soil round tight,to keep them from weeding outinto the garden proper,before their time.From the window, half-light,slips between the shelving slatstrips over spiderwebs and drip trays.Safety among the looming gloom,safe from the unearthing grief. Tonight’s poetics challenge was to take a line from Paul Dunbar’s The Paradox, and to build a poem around it. My choice was “I am the mother of sorrows; I am the ender of grief;” which has led to this rather odd piece.
On the very edge,where you go to curl your toesinto prayers.Ten tiny bodies bent shoulder and hipheads tucked in tightas if curved spines can protect themfrom the weight pressing forward,you’re so wind washed of expression,clinging on.
Salt stiffened, her wings don’t liftexcept pinwheeling featherscaught helter-skelter by sea breeze,sun bleached and lichen lined.Watches for the hands rising,faces breaking among shallows,hope and desperation.She sings for them.Caged in her cove, she sings.
Each day there seems less of me.Folding in on myself,there is a sense I can crisp my edges,find the perfect bend,turn blemishes in and under,tucked away out of sight.Any tattered edges can be smoothed,rebound into coverstight enough to stop my spilling out.An ache tells me that I use to spreadall these pages of myself out across open floors and tables,revel in how much of me there was.When did it become a shrinking,less is more,best kept out of sightand out of mind?
I can knot myself into a kaleidoscope.Pull in every shade of my beingtill I flicker out of sight,be whole in my absence. Still, a Muse will find my reflectionin the ripples on a lake,a shivering blade of grass,half a note of birdsong.Some such poetic nonsense always betrays me.Reveals the stress fracturesscattering from my joints,the places you will press into meto dig out meanings.To understand me you must dismantleall the elements within these limbsthen jigsaw them into your own creation.Redefine all the colours in the prism,and leave none to belong to me.
‘What did you just say?’ Selwin asked, leaning his body through the open doorframe. He squinted past the greasy smoke and spotted Jak crouched by the hearth, hands out to the spluttering flames.‘I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head,’ Jak muttered, his scalp mottled and pink in the gloom.‘It wasn’t in your head.’ Selwin crossed the room to open the back door. ‘You messed with a bad spell and set the world alight.’‘It needed to be let out.’‘It needed you to mind your own business.’ He waved a hand in front of his face, the air clearing slowly. He frowned at the shadows across Jak’s features.‘New worlds rise from ashes,’ muttered the broken wizard.‘Not from these.’Selwin sighed and sagged against the doorframe. ‘Your just lucky enough not to see it.’ Tonight’s DVerse Prosery prompt takes inspiration from the poem ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ by Yeats. ‘I went out to the hazel wood,Because a fire was in my head’.
Normally people take stock of the old year in January, me, I wait until the middle of February, and I’m not even going to beat myself up about it. I had other things to deal with, and if it took me an extra six weeks to get things straightened up, then it took an extra six weeks. I managed a total of fourteen writing submissions in 2020. Out of those fourteen, three were accepted, nine rejected, and two are still lurking in the ether waiting for spring and longlists to be announced. However, it’s important that we celebrate the small victories, to I’m going to use this post to cheer myself on for those three accomplishments. My poem ‘Credit Card Gal’ was accepted for publication later this year by ‘The Fieldstone Review’, my poem ‘When Mudesa Goes Shopping’ was accepted and published by ‘The Daily Drunk’, and my short story ‘Of Sharks and Jellyfish’ was selected as a finalist in the London Independent Story Prize’s fourth quarter. Yay me! Aside from submissions, I also managed …