Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Grandstand (Happy Independence Day, Zambia!)

Tomorrow is Zambia's 50th anniversary of Independence from British colonial rule.

I lived in Zambia from 1999-2001, aged 12 - 15, at a boarding school where my parents worked.

So here's a poem that sums up quite a bit of my experience there.

The Grandstand

There is a pyramid
In the centralsouthernafrican bush
Disrupting Zambia’s maize field and gum tree patchwork
It stands
Presiding over The Sports Field
That sprints away to the base of the hill with the cross on top
Flanked by tennis courts on the north and swimming pool on the south

The Grandstand
Was the epicentre to my 13-year-old world

As life spun rapidly
Changed dramatically
In a move from Basingstoke to Mkushi
And me -
Trying desperately
to blend in
The grandstand stands

The Grandstand has seen it all:
Sweat, hormones, nakedness and competition
bursting from the changing rooms beneath
Awkward couples huddling under the eaves
[But No Physical Contact Allowed]

Meet me at the GS at 16:15
Written carefully on a folded note
I risk breaking a heart
And swim instead

Then lie
Post-pool, cheek-down
On the polished concrete
Third step from the bottom
And soak the warmth into my chlorine limbs

Moths fly from starlight to fluorescent
The pool reflects the moon
And the Form 2 girls dance to Aaliyah and NSync
I watch awestruck by hips and curves
Lacking the moves
Longing for the confidence to try
Clouds hide the moon
The night hides my tears
As we walk back to the dorms

In the morning
Rainy season torrents drum onto the corrugated iron roof
Deafening sleepy pupils to teacher-wisdom
in sunrise assembly
Goosebumps staccato bare brown legs in short blue skirts
I gaze at the hills
And cling to the cross

The Sports Field at Chengelo School
Funny how you don't take many photographs of the 'ordinary' every day things.  The other photos I had might have caused serious embarrassment to the people in them, so I'll save them for another place, cuz I'm kind like that!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

No halo

There was no halo -
Like they show
In the paintings

At least
Not revealed to human eyes, most of the time
Momentary mountaintop flashes of glory
But then it was fish and foot-washing and dinner with 'Les miserables'
And maybe it was all a dream?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

We are found

And this is like coming home
We stand, sing, dance, drum
Triumphant declarations
of the good works you have done in us
Triumphant -
not because every day is easy
not because everything has worked out ok (just yet)
But because we are marked by a love deeper than deep
And because we’re here
And because we’re alive
And we’re still standing
And even if we’re not we are HELD

Sunday, 5 October 2014

On prophets

Below is a passage from one of the books on my list - that's definitely stuck with me. I love the poetic, ponderous way in which Rubem Alves writes - speaks to my soul somehow.  The prophets in the Bible are some of my favourite characters, especially John the Baptist. Something about their wildness and non-conformity and not really fitting in. Standing on the edge, I suppose. Not a comfortable place, but a necessary one. Every community needs a prophetic voice, if they are to grow and move forwards and become all they were intended to be. Prophets speak truth, and prophets get rejected. They see what the culture around them has not yet awakened to. Like Alves describes in his book, creativity and prophesy are often, poetry... Sometimes I can relate to this description below of prophets, and I definitely know people that fit the description. So this is for them :-)

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Exploring Cornwall: The Helford Passage

Last weekend my parents came to visit so I took the opportunity to get out and explore a little corner of this end of Cornwall that I've heard about lots but never made it down to.

Helford passage, on the Falmouth side of the Helford River, is not exactly easy to get to or on the way to anywhere, but I think that's part of the attraction.  We drove down tiny windy roads through tiny villages. We parked up on the hill near a lovely view - you can see where the river meets the sea. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014


I turned 28 on Wednesday.

Birthdays are always a bit strange: for me a mixture of hope and reflection and celebration and often - to be honest - a bit of loneliness and disappointment. I'm not someone who talks loads about their birthday but still hopes that somehow everyone will remember it, and maybe even plan some magical surprise party... and when it comes to any sort of celebration (always planned by me, in the end)  there's a strange mix of not wanting to be the centre of attention whilst feeling sad if people forget or don't turn up or whatever. I don't think I'm alone in this, I think birthdays are all sorts of strange in different ways for different people.