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.
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 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.