First blog post

About “Fording the Stream” – Jessica de Guyat    

Hello! I’m Margaret, also known as Jessica de Guyat ( my pen name) and this is my Greasley’s Cottage Blog. A big welcome to you all!

I’m a writer and published poet, interested in writing in the landscape on themes of nature and the seasons, spirituality, the Celtic year, the human condition ( joy, celebration, grief & loss ) philosophical musings and observations of everyday life. I LOVE writing poetry, both traditional in form ( sonnets, villanelles, triolets etc) but also experimenting with more contempiary forms ( prose fiction and the like)

i started this blog some months back but have not had a great deal of time to post as I have been working on my first poetry anthology which has recently been published – FORDING THE STREAM by Jessica de Guyat. I am now intending to get back to regular postings on the blog, as well as working on my next book  – a series of monologues reflecting my journey from 1950s childhood, through to present day retirement. This will have a more humorous content, I can promise you.

i would love you to come with my on my journey, wherever it may take me and I hope you will enjoy reading my blog posts.

 

Advertisements

The Bed of Roses

“Fording The Stream” by Jessica de GuyatMy New Year’s Resolution is to write more frequently on my blog, which I have rather neglected while getting my first book published.

My debut poetry collection “Fording The Stream” under my pen name of Jessica De Guyat has been selling well and I have been asked to write poetry for specific community events and perform some local readings, which I have really enjoyed.

I am now embarking on my second volume of poetry and editing my collection of short stories, in the hope that I may publish that at some point too.

Over the Christmas period I managed to write quite a number of new poems – some on a Christmas theme and some not. I am not always sure where the inspiration for my poetry comes from; sometimes it just arrives, a sudden idea in my brain and I am compelled to sit and write. It’s almost as if a poem is being dictated to me, a channeled piece, some might say. The poem below arrived on Christmas morning in such a way and I am sharing it with you now:-

 

The Bed of Roses

“I made you a bed of roses,” he said
Beneath the elm tree in the mists of forever
Your tumbling curls clinging to my trembling heart
As I walked away unsuspecting, like a ghost
Abandoning the lovers’ bower before the dawn
Rose, the morning star streaking across the sky.

“You made me a bed of thorns” she said
Under the elm tree in the mists of forever
Your careless words glanced across my pale brow
As I drifted away, bleeding into unconsciousness,
Fleeing the bonds of the bower before twilight
Fell, the evening star streaking across the sky.

“I made you a bower of eglantine”, he said
In Athena’s clearing in our secret wood
Your hopes and aspirations flowing with my tears
As I became invisible to your blind expectations
Thinking you might awaken before my love
Froze, our lovers’ star fading in the cold sky.”

“You made me a prison cell in the bower,” she said
In Athena’s clearing in the secret wood
Your stifling love strangling my tumbling curls
Choking my hopeful spirit as our spheres collided
Hoping that salvation might come for us – but
Alas, our lovers’ star has fallen from the sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allow Me to be ME

Allow me to be Me!

Do not paint my portrait
For I have a changing face
Not set in stone

Do not describe me in verse
For I am a fledgling poet
Not defined by genre

Do not photograph me
For I am a free spirit
Not confined to one place

Do not dance my dance
For I am a swirling ribbon
Not restricted by time

Do not sing my song
For I may have a new lament
Not yet composed

Do not aspire to know me
For I grow in wisdom and change
Allow me to be ME!

Sounds of Autumn

TANKA: SOUNDS OF AUTUMN

equinox spirits

whispering softly through mist

squirrels scratch for nuts

swoosh of leaves swirling down lanes

rattle of wind through cracked glass

 

calling birds fly low

harvest mice squeak scampering

looking for safety

where grass grows under hedgerows

no hiding place in ploughed fields

 

harvest moon shining

lights up the darkest corners

barn owl takes swift flight

rain pattering on red rooves

as lullabies drift upwards

 

 

 

 

© Margaret Royall October 2017

Author of poetry anthology “Fording The Stream” by Jessica de Guyat

Island Wisdom

Tanka

ISLAND WISDOM

lewisian gneiss
withstands the scars of all time
fortress of fire
spectacular sunrise will
follow the saddest sunset

petrichor rising
from damp rocks after rainfall
assaults the nostrils
peace is restored after storm
turning back the errant tide

© Margaret Royall October 2017

Fawlty Towers Perhaps?

FAWLTY TOWERS PERHAPS?

Was this visit destined to be a future episode of Fawlty Towers? I mused, reflecting on my first day back at the Argyll Hotel on Iona, where I was staying for my annual writing retreat..

It hadn’t started well. On reaching room 14 in the annexe I had endured the usual battle of fiddling repeatedly with the room key in the lock. It refused to turn easily, owing to the hefty wooden key-holder clonking against the door and the tiddly key on the end failing to fit properly into the misshapen keyhole, as a result no doubt of – well, you guessed it! – guests fiddling desperately with a clonking key holder and a tiddly key in a misshapen lock…….. . Eventually it worked. Hurrah! Entry gained.

Next to unpack and stow my belongings in the louvre-doored wardrobe. The door stuck, then shot open abruptly and I was whacked on the nose by a flying coat hanger, bearing some strange kind of blue nylon cover with an embroidered message in neon yellow letters on one side. I held it up curiously and without my specs on could just decipher the top part of the message: PLEASE DO NOT PET ME, it read. Now why would anyone want to do that? I thought. I removed the strangely shaped object from the hanger and read the remainder of the instruction.: PLEASE DO NOT PET ME OR DISTRACT ME, I AM A WORKING DOG, it read. Ok, so the previous occupant of the room obviously had a guide dog, whose overcoat had been left behind.

The next event was a power failure. Waking in the middle of the night and needing a loo visit, I tried to switch on the bedside lamp – but nothing happened. “ Oh dear, the bulb’s gone”, I said to myself, as I stumbled out of bed and crashed into the corner of the desk, bruising my shins.
Next morning I awoke feeling chilly and decided to switch on the wall heater. Nothing happened. I put on my specs to peer at the dials and switches, trying various combinations, but with no luck. Aha, perhaps there was a poltergeist in the room?

Well, a shower would certainly warm me up, I thought, so I turned on the shower and extractor fan switches and swung the shower dial to the “ go” position. No water! Nothing! Ok, so I’ll just have a wash in the basin then, I thought. I climbed carefully out of the bath but at that very moment water suddenly started to gush from the shower again and – yippee, it was hot! Great! I’ll get back in the shower. So I climbed into the bath again, being careful not to dislocate my replaced hip and lathered myself liberally with shower gel, probably more than I would normally use because – well it’s free in a hotel isn’t it? Then suddenly, pooof! The water was gone and I was left shivering and lathered in shower gel, which I now couldn’t remove. Half an hour later I emerged with chattering teeth, having managed to scrape off the gel with toilet paper and leftover water from the kettle. Not a great start to the day. Things surely had to get better?

I reflected that a hot cooked breakfast was just what I needed to warm me up and as time was now marching on I hastily threw on some clothes and shoes and left my room……..of course fiddling yet again with the clonking key holder and the tiddly key in the misshapen lock, owing to………. You get the picture!
On my way down to breakfast I bumped into a fellow writer coming up the stairs. She paused. “Is this a new trend?” she asked, barely disguising her amusement and pointing at my feet. Glancing down I realised I was wearing two different shoes – a white sandal on my right foot and a pink one on my left! We both burst out laughing and I fled back to my room in embarrassment to rectify my inappropriate sartorial dress. When I left the room again, I decided to leave the door unlocked this time, thus avoiding………., well, you know………. I won’t repeat it again!

©  Margaret Royall September 2017

September’s Fading Splendour

 

Haibun

SEPTEMBER’S FADING SPLENDOUR

I walk down the village street in contemplative mood, observing nature at this pivotal point where late Summer blends into early Autumn, drinking in the magic of the moment, noting the changes on land and sea. Slowly Summer is retreating and Autumn waits eagerly in the wings, ready to impart a different brand of magic. Crocosmia still blooms in the sea-edge gardens yet the leaves on the bending trees in the Nunnery grounds are already tinged with a copper-red blush. The wheel of the year constantly turns, propelling us forwards in a time-capsule. The changes observed in nature are comforting, their repeating pattern reassuring. Whatever else may change in our lives we know this natural cycle of seasons will continue; birth, death, rebirth, regrowth. We reflect what enrichment will be ours between Samhain and Samhain?

rose perfume fading
shadows lengthen, days shorten
sun tinged with chill breeze

boats upturned on beach
tabby cat seeks warmer spot
ferry brings fewer folk

cloudscape repainted
atmosphere grows more subdued
anticipation

 

The daylight starts to fade and the last ferry leaves for Mull. Calm descends as the island prepares for the oncoming night. I return to my room at the Argyll Hotel, my day enriched by the island’s splendour, holding the vision fast in my heart and ready to relax and reflect. The next day brings a marked change in the weather. There is an Autumnal feel in the air and angry clouds are gathering overhead. A hooley blows through. The cosiest place to weather the storm is indoors, curled up on a sagging settee in the quaint lounge with its breathtaking view out over the Sound, surrounded by well-thumbed books, dog-eared maps and paintings of local scenes. Here there is solitude; here the possibility to recharge the batteries by withdrawing from life for a while.

storm threat on skyline
flowers whirl like dervishes
azure morphs to grey

sea petrels diving
white-capped waves crashing ashore
birds and beasts seek shelter

new wisdom dawning
captured for just a tide-span
rest and renewal

© Margaret Royall September 2017

 

 

Walking the Karmic Timeline

WALKING THE KARMIC TIMELINE

I could drink it in, inhale
its very essence,
this gathering of ancestors
sacrificing at the ancient stones
I once was there too,
stoical martyr, wounded crone,
bleeding for all humanity;
no vision then of my future self
modelled with the passage of time,
still tormented with uncertainty
but hopeful of higher-born reincarnation

Scanning back along the timeline
the sole surviving memory is the stench of
burning flesh, the sacrifice
of a mistaken witch,
torn from her family
stripped, scourged, ridiculed,
howling at the stake like a whipped cur
friends turned Judas in her hour of need,
no proper inquisition,
no retribution, no compensation

A vague recollection stirs
in my subconscious –
from that inner whirlpool of
knowledge, familiar yet unknown,
holding fast to its yellow centre,
a midpoint on the bridge
spiritually linking gold to green,
a transient memory, edges too blurred,
flashes across the mind’s eye
and is gone!

Therein must lie the truth……
An ancient burial
from which the deserving soul shall rise
to walk the unfinished trail
Somewhere along the future’s path
the brain may implode,
haunted by nightmares of half truths
But to forge the crucial link,
to make proper sense of it all,
that is the pilgrim’s lonely quest,
his path of burning coals to tread
until the karmic debt is paid

© Margaret Royall March 2017

 

 


In The Hush of Twilight

“Fording The Stream” by Jessica de Guyat

The pilgrim follows the crude path further than before. The promise of white sand under his bare feet, pink shells glistening in the half-light and the glow of emerging moonlight on his gnarled face spur him on despite the lengthening shadows. The lane twists and turns, revealing now and then glimpses of the promised destination ahead. The light is fading fast and he quickens his steps. There is a marked stillness as he rounds the final bend where countryside meets ocean. He leans on his stick and drinks in the moment, precious and sacred.

Becalmed boats bobbing
Dewdrops listen in silence
To noiseless breathing

Wayside graves dreaming
Holding anaesthetised lives
Prisoner forever

Odour of stagnant water
Drifting from the nearby pond
Dragonflies hover

Croft chimneys smoking
Grey cat-tails spiralling high
Into the half light

Turning away he heads for the village, holding his lamp high to light the rough track. The route is familiar to him, for it is the path his ancestors have trodden for centuries. It leads him past the stark outline of the Abbey, downhill a little, skirting the ruins of the former Nunnery and heading towards the ferry slipway. He must find lodgings, as the last ferry has long since departed. In the hush of twilight the island is winding down. Birds and animals prepare for sleep.

Ardent prayer rising
From pilgrims in the Abbey
Hands folded tightly

Tombstones stand proudly
Testament to lives well lived
Gagged voices screaming

Nunnery walls guard
Precious enshrined memories
Ancient lore within

Balsamic moon glows
Light is the only succour
Evening stars are mute

© Margaret Royall March 2017

 

 

Moving House

Rightmove – now there’s a word I don’t want to hear again in a long time! They say that moving house is high up on the list of things which can lead to a nervous breakdown and my last house move almost certainly did bring me to the edge.
You think you have given yourself enough time, don’t you? Start well In advance, get organised and it will be a breeze, you think! Mmmm, that’s the optimist’s view! Reality is a rather different story!
So the clear out began ……..cupboards apart, drawers out, charity bags filled, off to the tip and the charity shop, then repeat ad nauseam. It reminded me of doing the Hokey Cokey – in, out, in, out, shake it all about! Three solid days it took to clear the loft of smelly trainers, sweatshirts, NME newspapers, old videos and cassette tapes, teddy bears, Rubix cubes, jigsaws with half their pieces missing, a dartboard and all kinds of bric a brac from a decade ago. I cursed my offspring, who had been expressly forbidden when we moved in to store anything whatsoever in the loft. Unbeknown to me they had obviously disobeyed and filled the space with their ” might come in handy later” or “can’t bear to part with it” junk.
The garage was an even worse proposition. No car had ever been garaged there, as the interior groaned in protest at the tea chests and boxes of STUFF stored within its walls: futon bases, paint pots, wallpaper, brooms, buckets, boxes of broken Christmas decorations, soft toys,old lawn mowers and a sack of Willy Nelson CDs, belonging to my husband. No, he didn’t actually LIKE Willy Nelson, but they were going cheap at a French brocante and proved a great sleep inducer post lunch on a Sunday afternoon, cleverly avoiding the big clear up in the kitchen. Sharing the sack with Willy Nelson were other favourites, Barbara Dickson and Shirley Bassey ( I think he secretly had a thing for Jewish women!). The same brocante fair had encouraged a collection of French flat irons and ancient laundry equipment, which he crammed into the car boot and once back home displayed around the Adams fireplace in our lounge. Over the years they were joined by wooden carvings of Viking Warriors from Norway, grotesque masks from Africa, an unfinished painting of Charles 11 with only half a head, a miscellany of ancient dairy equipment, which was being discarded in his Agricultural College. As a child born during the latter part of World War 11 in the East End of London he simply couldn’t bear to see anything go to waste. ‘Make do and mend’ was his motto.
I had already been through this scenario 15 years previously after his untimely death, when I had had to sell the family home and downsize. In the big house we had stables ( no horses ever in them, I hasten to add), a coach house and two further outbuildings. Now as you have probably gathered, my husband was a hoarder and his mantra was ” put it in the stable, you never know when it might come in useful”. So I had had to clear all these buildings prior to my last move and needed to commission a juggernaut from the scrapyard to remove it all. In the stable alone there were rotten old carpets, three washing machines, two dishwashers, six bicycles with no chains, a cracked toilet, a washbasin, a garden roller, a fridge-freezer and an assortment of old-fashioned leather suitcases and hat boxes, all of which had been abandoned by the previous owners of Holly House, having done a moonlight flit to dodge a huge unpaid tax bill. This move had been so calamitous that my attitude this last time around was “I’ve been there, done it, got the T-shirt, so by comparison this will be pretty straightforward!”
However, it’s not just the clearing and decluttering which is demanding. Next come the viewings. There are so many things that can go wrong just as viewers arrive. There were incidents when my cats decided to drag in disembowelled mice and plonk them in the middle of the kitchen floor or when one cat decided to have diarrhoea in the litter tray only two minutes beforehand. Most embarrassing was the occasion when I was desperately drying underwear and had left a pair of lacy Jennifer Lopez knickers hanging over a bedroom radiator! The estate agent arrived to take photos of the bungalow and made the knickers a central feature in the photograph! On another occasion an eager couple arrived early to find me dragging an old mattress which had seen better days down the garden path.
Despite all the sweat, toil and drama the bungalow sold in the end, of course, and I now live in a beautiful old country cottage. But I can assure you I have no intention of moving again in a hurry and it wasn’t a day too soon when the SOLD board went up and I joyfully deleted the property search on Rightmove!

© Margaret Royall September 2015

 

A ROSE BLOOMED IN MY HEART

SERENDIPITY
Dedicated to my dear friend Virginia

A rose bloomed in my heart
The day we met on Queen Street Station
Nervously trundling our luggage
Each looking to find the other,
Up to that point just Christmas cards
Carelessly tossed in the post out of duty
Fleeting messages year on year
Cousins by marriage, a tenuous link,
What we knew of eachother was sketchy at best

Suddenly we were real people
Tentative hugs and kisses exchanged
Soon chatting and laughing together non-stop
Over dinner, surrounded by Art Deco luxe
Trying to catch up on precious lost years
Clicking at once, it was true serendipity!
So much in common and more to explore
The jigsaw had found its missing piece!

Twin francophiles, we couldn’t wait
To plan a trip to south west France
Exploring ancient Templar sites –
Carcassonne’s fortress, Rennes-le-chateau
Sipping blanc de limoux, enjoying moules frites
Soaking up everyday life in the Languedoc
Carefree days, each supporting the other
Laughing at our attempts to speak French

The rose still blooms in my heart
Why did it take us so long to meet
And grasp that serendipitous moment?
Time is so precious as we age
Each minute, day and hour a treasure
We see our reflection in life’s grand mirror
And know we are mortal – for time marches on!
Live in the present then, no point in waiting,
Hand in hand we’ll run again
Through sunflower meadows in south west France
Carpe diem, while the jigsaw pieces fit!

© Margaret Royall March 2017