laid with cloth of quiet

I’m blogging today whilst working on stories, whilst making marmalade, whilst feeling poetry bubbling up alongside the pith and peel in the pan.

Last autumn was for me, in the words of Stanley Kunitz, a ‘feast of losses’.  Each death creates ripples in its own community and beyond, reminding us of the webs of connections. One passing is that of Jay Ramsay whose funeral is happening in Devon as I write these words.  I knew him for decades but strangely, or so it seems,  we only met once face to face at a day of eco-poetry he organised at St John’s Waterloo in June 2017. We share friends, colleagues, a publisher, pages in magazines and exchanged emails, including in the month before his death. Typically, his last message to me was full of enthusiasm for a CD I sent and expressed hope we’d do something together and promoting a book by another poet. He was utterly generous and his determination to see his illness as an initiation, a humbling gift. His obituary is here.

One of his books is called Alchemy and marmalade-making is alchemical, not least in the way it fills the house with citrussy steam and every part of the orange is used.

I looked for a poem about marmalade and came across this one by Gillian Allnutt, another visionary poet: The Makings of Marmalade

I don’t know which collection that is from – if anyone does please let me know.

And here is a blog about Gillian Allnutt by another generous advocate of poetry, Anthony Wilson. I’ve taken the title of this blog from a poem he quotes, another one ostensibly about the domestic but imbued with the sacred.  I want to read her all the time and have dug out Nantucket and the Angel, her 1997 collection, from the bookshelf unopened for the past fifteen years …

but it’s time to return to the rituals of marmalade: skimming scum, lifting hot jars from the oven, a cold saucer from the fridge, looking for the miracle of the crinkle, thinking of the gathering in faraway Devon.