Margaret Royall

Margaret‘s 1st poetry collection ‘Fording The Stream’ appeared Sept 2017 under the pen name Jessica De Guyat.

She was shortlisted for the Bangor Literary Festival and Crowvus poetry prizes in 2018 and her poems have appeared online, in journals and anthologies, most recently Hedgehog Poetry Press, The Blue Nib, Impspired and forthcoming in Sarasvati.

May 2020 saw the publication of her memoir of childhood ‘The Road to Cleethorpes Pier,’ a Haibun fusion of prose and poetry.

In July 2020 she won Hedgehog Press’ Full Fat collection competition and ‘Where Flora Sings,’ was published November 2020. Earth Magicke was published by impspired in 2021, with Immersed In Blue out in January 2022.

Margaret leads a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire and performs regularly at open mic events in person and online.

Phoenix rising

A reflection on my recent post pandemic visit to Iona

Below me the bay blooms silver, 
its rolling curves reaching for the 
anonymity of the far horizon.

I have known each boulder, rock pool, sea arch,
drizzled fine grains of white sand through fragile fingers.
It is the same bay I have visited for many years,
yet changed.

Outwardly all is as it ever was:
at low-tide the ropes of sea-weed tangle on the rocks,
the breakwaters cower beneath the heft of the storm surge,
the sough of the east wind at our backs catches our breath -
yet everything, everyone has undergone change.

We have been in exile; we have crawled through 
jaws of steel, been imprisoned in stinking soot-black cages,
feared that today may be all we have, that death lurked 
round every corner.

And yet the fishermen still haul their boats up the beach;
above them seagulls wheel and screech, dive bomb tourists,
children paddle, delve into murky pools in search of crabs.

The difference is imperceptible to the naked eye,
yet we silently acknowledge this new dawn,
a new beginning gifted us, one we hardly dared
hope for in those long months of deep despair.

We are fashioned from new cloth, all of us. 
Out of crisis a new world emerges to challenge us…
The Phoenix rises from the flames.

Iona journal 2013 

Haibun: In the Hush of Twilight

The pilgrim follows the crude path further than before. The promise of white sand under his bare feet, pink shells glistening in the half-light and the glow of emerging moonlight on his gnarled face spur him on despite the lengthening shadows. The lane twists and turns, revealing now and then glimpses of the promised destination ahead. The light is fading fast and he quickens his steps. There is a marked stillness as he rounds the final bend where countryside meets ocean. He leans on his stick and drinks in the moment, precious and sacred.

Becalmed boats bobbing
dewdrops listen in silence
to water lapping
Wayside graves slumber
holding anaesthetised lives
safe in their keeping 
Odour of brackish 
water drifts up from black pools 
dragonflies hover
Croft chimneys smoking
grey cat-tails spiralling high
into the half-light

Turning away he heads for the village, holding his lamp high to light the rough track. The route is familiar to him, for it is the path his ancestors have trodden for centuries. It leads him past the stark outline of the Abbey, downhill a little, skirting the ruins of the former Nunnery and heading towards the ferry slipway. He must find lodgings, as the last ferry has long since departed. In the hush of twilight the island is winding down. Birds and animals prepare for sleep. He steps carefully over puddles reflecting the street lamps’ iridescent glow.

Ardent prayer rising
from pilgrims in the Abbey
hands tightly folded
Ancient stones stand proud
testament to lives well lived
memories hovering
Nunnery walls hold
myriad secrets enshrined.
Sheela na gig* stares down

Balsamic moon glows
light is the only succour
evening stars are mute

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