My daughter was weeding her front garden the other day. I was watching and speaking with her when one of our neighbours came along. I was used to seeing him on his bike, but he was now in a wheelchair.
He stopped to ask if he could have a few pieces of the slate from my front garden, as he liked to paint stones and couldn’t get to the beach anymore.
I was happy to give him as many pieces as he wanted, but before I could bend down to get a few, he asked my name, putting out his hand to shake mine.
Instead of shaking it, he kissed the back of my hand like an olden day gentleman, making me feel like a lady. I could almost feel the crinoline brushing against my legs. He said he would leave a painted piece in my garden when he could.
Two days later, I watched as he tried to maneuver his wheelchair up the small step to my path. Abandoning his efforts, he managed to walk to my front garden.
By now I was on my feet, crossing the room. From my window, I could see a beautifully painted stone lying on the ground. By the time I reached my front door, he had made it back to his wheelchair. Picking up the beautifully painted stone with a lump in my throat, I thanked him and blew him a kiss. He told me that the paint didn’t go well on the slate and had used a stone instead.
I felt overwhelmed by this gift, so much so that I sat on the couch crying my heart out and couldn’t say why.
Jaye said it because it was a wonderful gift, from a wonderful gentleman whose name is Peter…
I am always looking for that lucky charm
That hits you like a lover’s kiss
Blue lightning that fills the air with magic.
That special touch that lets you know
That everything is all right.
Life will not spin out of control
Let the wind howl, I have a
Hundred reasons to be happy.
Learn to play, something I miss.
Take a train, find a new adventure
Make a plan for my future
Wind in my neck, stop looking at the dark side of life
Forget that one who left me on Christmas Eve
Find a new lovers kiss
Maybe this time I will find Prince Charming…
Silent faces walk the streets of London
Never stopping, no smiles to give away
Tourists, cameras flashing
Strange sounds assail your ears
Like too many bird songs
Chalk art on pavements that should be seen
Trafalgar fountains spraying
With Nelson watching all
The bells of St Martin’s ring
To someone in need of prayer
Get your shoes shined here
Take a piece of London home
To say you visited here
Artist’s paintings hang on railings
Visit museums if that’s your thing
Ride an open top bus, hope there’s no rain
See the street vendors, card tricks
Stick pins in their flesh
Take the bus that sails on the water
Walk the pink roads, see Buck House
Give a nod to Queen Victoria as you pass
Stop for lunch, ride the London Eye
Before you take the train home…
Take life by the short straw
Shake the tree see what falls
If it’s apple cores, save the pips for another day
Plant them when the time is right
Never hide your face from the light
Dance under rainbows
Bless the rain that sent you colour
Count your days with great delight
Send love out to catch the waves
Shake the tree a second time
Star might fall to light your way
To bring back dreams from yesterday
If still, you find no delight
Shake the tree with all your might
Until it gives all from sheer fright…
Although Colleen is busy catching up on work projects, she has provided us with prompts so we can still write our poems! So here’s Anita’s!
Breathe the sweet air
Find where you belong
Let love into your heart
Step out of the dark, take aim
Find that one special person now
Let your dreams be bigger than before
Let love take you to old age together…
The Pompey Bookshop
“I love the smell of this old place, don’t you, Fred?”
“Yer, it smells of death, all that paper and old trees whispering. You found anything good to read yet?”
“Not so far. Quiet, here comes one now. I wonder what she’s looking for? Watch out, she’s coming your way, to the esoteric stuff. She’s looking for a little magic…”
“Let’s give her some, drop a book on her.”
“I can’t do that, Fred. It might hurt her, besides, she’s troubled. Can’t you see the sadness in her eyes? Can’t you feel it?”
“Yer, yer. I thought we could have a bit of fun for a change.”
“Trouble with you Fred, you are a good ghost. You don’t hear too much about good spooks these days. Maybe we can help her out. One of these old trees might be of some use. This one for instance, “How to Find your Own Bliss.”
“Go ahead then Jim. Poke it out, your best at that, but don’t be too heavy-handed. Don’t want it dropping on her head, remember?”
Jim did his best and the book moved slowly, sticking out about two inches, but the woman didn’t notice it had moved.
“Damn…” Jim said.
“If I push any harder it’s going to fall…”
“Let me help, I’ll play with her hair to make her look up. You push.”
Alice touched the top of her head. Must be her nerves, she thought, it felt like fingers playing with her hair.
Jim pushed and the book fell at her feet. Picking it up, Alice read the blurb on the back and decided to take it. She continued her search, her fingers brushing against the spines, the pages inside rippling at her touch.
“You can stop playing with her hair now, Fred. You’re messing with the pages. They’re getting all excited, thinking they might be read. They don’t know how lucky they are. Luck, maybe that’s what she needs. After all, that’s what the Pompey Bookshop is all about, helping people to find what they need.”
“Good idea. No pushing this time. Look, she’s still stroking the spines. She’s coming up to the one with the green spine, that one will make her hand tingle…”
“Which one are you on about, Fred?”
“That one, “Luck Made Easy”. It’s a big book so will need both of us.”
Alice snatched her hand away from the book, her hand stinging.
“Now see what you’ve done. You’ve come on too strong…”
“She might not be brave enough to touch it again. She must believe in stuff like this or she wouldn’t be here. Make it glow, Fred!”
“It’s almost closing time, Mr. Pompey will be looking to see if the shop’s empty before lights out.”
The book had moved out of line just a bit and was glowing. Alice found some courage and pulled it out. She almost ran to the till.
“You’re our last customer of the day, Miss. Have a good evening.”
Alice’s thank you was barely a whisper as she made her way to the door.
“Good job done there, Fred…”
“Let’s hope so, Jim. I reckon she ‘ll find just what she needs between them old leaves. “
“See you come morning. Jim.”
The bookshop didn’t sleep. The leaves between all the book covers were too busy whispering to each other as beneath the ancient bookshop a strange energy began to stir.
Fred and Jim could feel it. They whispered to each from force of habit but no one could hear them. They agreed that this young woman was destined for great things. “We will hear about her soon, Fred. Keep an eye out for the paper when he brings it in…”
Memories are funny things, aren’t they? The way certain things suddenly pop into your head, and you think – hey, I know about that, and you remember.
I wonder what makes some memories surface and not others? You could say it’s down to something you have just heard or seen, but I know that’s not always the case.
Just lately I have been remembering a specific time in my childhood, and never realised before how that time must have influenced me. Or was it that threshold of childhood, the time you really start to think and question things? To imagine a future for yourself, that you won’t always be just idling along, not really caring if it snowed, depending on others to organise your life.
This particular time was when I lived in Kent, in a small village called Birchington, a few miles from Margate.. I was about 8 or 9 years old, and up to that point I didn’t really think about anything much. So much had happened to me that I had got into the habit of not questioning anything. Not much point really, as I knew I couldn’t change anything.
I was with foster parents by then with several other children, all from broken families; and surprisingly it was the first time I felt relaxed enough to appreciate the peace and quiet of the countryside, not to mention the freedom from all my mother’s problems.
Every Sunday we all went to church, and right outside the church door was a very impressive grave stone. It was made of a beautiful piece of marble and I thought the writing on it was very ornate and posh. I looked at it every Sunday for a while, when it suddenly struck me that this had to be someone quite important. But why was he buried here in this tiny village?
The name on the stone was Dante Gabriel Rossetti (12may 1828-9april 1882) and I remember being very impressed by the sound of it, resolving to find out more about him. I was about the right age for romantic flights of fancy and the more I discovered about this tortured man and the life he lived, the more intrigued I became. He was a poet and a painter and some would say that he wasn’t very successful, but history will always remember him as a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais.
I learnt about Rossetti and how he had ended up a recluse in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea after a nervous breakdown, finally retreating to Birchington for rehabilitation only to die less than a year later. Perhaps he should have spent more time in Kent, for it was making me feel better! I secretly sympathised with the mess he had made of his life, determined that my life would be better than it had started out to be. I just needed to be old enough to set the wheels in motion.
So you see, I tend to think he was my friend back then, right when I really needed one, guiding me to where I am today…
Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born 12 May 1828 in London, the second child and eldest son of Italian expatriates. His father, Gabriele Rossetti, was a Dante scholar, who had been exiled from Naples for writing poetry in support of the Neapolitan Constitution of 1819. Rossetti’s mother had trained as a governess and supervised her children’s early education. Few Victorian families were as gifted as the Rossettis: the oldest child, Maria Rossetti, published A Shadow of Dante (1871) and became an Anglican nun; William Michael Rossetti was along with his brother an active member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and became an editor, man of letters, and memoirist; the youngest, Christina Georgina Rossetti, became an important and influential lyric poet.
As a child Dante Gabriel Rossetti intended to be a painter and illustrated literary subjects in his earliest drawings. He was tutored at home in German and read the Bible, Shakespeare, Goethe’s Faust, The Arabian Nights, Dickens, and the poetry of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron. After leaving school, he apprenticed himself to the historical painter Ford Madox Brown, who later became his closest lifelong friend. He also continued his extensive reading of poetry—Poe, Shelley, Coleridge, Blake, Keats, Browning, and Tennyson—and began in 1845 translations from Italian and German medieval poetry. In 1847 and 1848 Rossetti began several important early poems—”My Sister’s Sleep,” “The Blessed Damozel,” “The Bride’s Prelude,” “On Mary’s Portrait,” “Ave,” “Jenny,” “Dante at Verona,” “A Last Confession,” and several sonnets, a form in which he eventually became expert.
Rossetti divided his attention between painting and poetry for the rest of his life. In 1848 he founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with six other young men, mostly painters, who shared an interest in contemporary poetry and an opposition to certain stale conventions of contemporary academy art. In a general way, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood sought to introduce new forms of thematic seriousness, high coloration, and attention to detail into contemporary British art. Members of the group included John Everett Millais, its most skilled painter and future president of the Royal Academy, and William Holman Hunt, Thomas Woolner; Frederic Stephens; and William Michael Rossetti, who as P.R.B. secretary kept a journal of activities and edited the six issues of its periodical, the Germ (1850). Associates of the group included the older painter Ford Madox Brown, the painter and poet William Bell Scott, the poet Coventry Patmore, and Christina Rossetti, six of whose poems appeared in the Germ.