Camilla Lambert

Camilla Lambert began writing poetry on retirement in 2007, having had a varied career as a Health Service Senior Manager, a social policy researcher and an Open University tutor-counsellor. In 2013 she gained a First-Class degree in Literature with Creative Writing from the O.U. Her first pamphlet Grapes in the Crater was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2015 and she was Profiled Poet for SOUTH issue 55 in April 2017. Individual poems have been published in Acumen, Poetry Ireland Review, The Interpreter’s House, Agenda, SOUTH, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Frogmore Papers, Artemispoetry and The Alchemy Spoon. Poems have also appeared in various anthologies, with a number being placed or highly commended in competitions. She co-organises a small annual Arts Festival in Binsted, near Arundel, West Sussex, and, connected with this, runs a poetry competition for the South Downs Poetry Festival. She is currently working on another collection, when not being an active grandmother, gardener and walker.

On wanting to believe in the possibility of peace 

 The train heads north, a few white dog roses,
 a sky-blue field of flax, gone in a flash.
  
 At Warminster, no church in sight, but lines of tanks 
 desert yellow, jungle khaki, beside the railway.
  
 My brother aged ten, would mass his troops 
 on the bedroom floor for a last battle before bed.
  
 Now we argue about marches for peace. He says
 only believe; I raise up banners Beat tanks into tractors.
  
 Beyond Westbury the giant horse is tethered on stiff 
 chalk legs. Below it a land of gulls, mustering to follow
  
 shining ploughshares, turned earth, and on to where war, 
 recycled, barricades ports, lumbers its way across plains.
   

Numbers

 In Delville Wood I wandered under the trees
 beside a blur of gravestones, all the dead 
 known only unto God, acorns everywhere,
 a clinking pocketful of bullets.
  
 Now home, inventories of loss batter again,
 living souls culled, creatures extinguished,
 I go down the garden to my sapling oak, 
 finger its leaves, its thin outspread branches.
  
 And I count sunflowers, still bright enough 
 to glow at dusk, how many have shed
 bold glances, fringed faces drooping
 towards brittle earth. I mourn them all.
  
 Questing bumblebees appear; the dark cores
 begin to set seed, arrowheads to new life.
 Promises of recovered days, or comforts 
 to sweeten enumerations still to come?
  
  
 Delville Wood,: Site of fierce fighting July-Sept 1916, part of the Somme offensive  

The Embroiderer 

The sewing room in the big house 
 was laden with yesterday’s talk of loss,
 stuffy above a dusty litter of silk reels, 
  
 and tissue paper. A tapestry panel 
 rippled across the oak table, a frieze 
 of dancing maids with spring flowers. 
  
 Her sisters kept sleek heads bent 
 over their work, responding with
 vague assent to their mother’s probes
  
 on girls’ troubles, hidden heart-aches.
 Snapping her book shut, she’d walk out
 down the stone steps, into the wind. 
  
 Now in fire-glow winter, sisters gone,
 she plies her needle in the service
 of logic and symmetry, intent on stab 
  
 and tug, her only pause to untangle
 the next thread from a folded hank,
 or to check the regularity of pattern.
  
 Dense cross-stitch takes over the cloth 
 in black, rust, earth, no hint of her mother’s 
 hearts-ease purple or apple blossom pink.
  
 Coals shrivel to ash, a scissor-snip
 ends the day, everything in its place.
 Willow green curtains exclude the dark. 

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