All posts tagged: Eavan Boland

Astrantia Roma | edge of evening

Solstice in three parts

A couple of weekends ago I went to Bath with friends. We were there to celebrate A-M’s 50th birthday. I remember, so clearly, trying to leave the house for her 40th birthday party, at a community centre five minutes up the road from our Colliers Wood flat. T was a little under two weeks old. I was sitting on the bed feeding her and each time I thought that she was finished & I would be able to slip out, a blush of pink would rise on her face, clouding to red & a curl of displeasure would appear around her mouth, before she again began to cry & I again began to feed her. Late, sometime after nine, I did slip out and felt all the strange vulnerability one feels out in the world postpartum, without an obvious pregnancy or a tiny baby to signal to people that they shouldn’t knock into you, should treat you with an exaggerated care and concern. I must’ve stayed less than half an hour. A decade later and …

Magnolia, April 2016 | edge of evening

From the bench

Though it now seems almost impossibly unlikely — two frosts & a hail storm this week — there was a day last week when I spent the morning on the garden bench. And though I told you about that morning, I didn’t use the obligatory magnolia-at-peak-beauty photos that I took from my bench. The tree was pruned heavily after last spring’s flowering and so peak-magnolia was slightly less magnificent than the last couple of years (when, in retrospect, the tree was taking up more than the width of our narrow garden) but it was still pretty magnificent. Like the peak of many things, peak-magnolia is a moment that only reveals itself in retrospect. Now the petals have browned, the leaves aren’t yet fully unfurled. Now we are at the ugly duckling stage between early spring and late spring. Between the time when it all seems joyous and miraculous, and the time when you wish it would just hurry up and be summer already. But the chicks of the blackbirds nesting in our neighbours’ climbing hydrangea have hatched. The …

Following the light

From painting I learned something else of infinite value to me. Most young poets have bad working habits. They write their poems in fits and starts, by feast or famine. But painters follow the light. They wait for it and do their work by it. They combine artisan practicality with vision. In a house with small children, with no time to waste, I gradually reformed my working habits. I learned that if I could not write a poem, I could make an image, and if I could not make an image, I could take out a word, savor it and store it. From Eavan Boland’s essay “The Woman Poet: her dilemma” quoted in The Writer’s Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long [underlining mine]. The start of another week. My twenty-first consecutive day of writing (something small, every day – I started on the last day of December). The pages of black ink an unbroken thread through my days. Mostly I feel like I’m just spilling out the detritus of my mind: snippets of dreams, stray thoughts & …