Edith Robson

I began to write for pleasure some years ago. I discovered a writing retreat on Iona and, inspired by the island, wrote a children’s MG book set there. The islanders were then trying to raise funds to provide social housing that would enable young islanders to remain so I self-published and sent copies up to help raise funds. Before covid, the 115 souls realised they needed a new village hall (which doubles as a school hall) and began a plethora of fund-raising events to raise the £2 million needed. I wondered how I could possibly help the folk who have made me so welcome and the place I love. So, I gathered some of my stories and poems written there and published them in a little booklet with photographs thinking that it would be a different kind of memory that visitors could take home. Angela Locke, the Cumbrian author who leads the Iona retreats has also been doing zoom classes where we share our writing since lockdown. When the war in Ukraine erupted, we all wanted to show our support for the folk there and how we empathised with their plight. We wrote and published a booklet within a month and have been selling copies to support World Central Kitchen which has already provided more than 25million meals in Ukraine as well as in Poland and other states welcoming war refugees. So far, Voices for Ukraine has raised over £2,000.

REFLECTIONS

Through the lapping they strolled
arms entwined
eyes softening, sparkling
aware only of the other in the sun’s embrace.

From the machair, two shadows gazed
-Do you remember when we too wandered
thro’ sun-glinting ripples?
-No.
-and placing your ring on my finger
you said the sand would remember us.
-Perhaps.
-We kissed as the tide swirled around
promising to return each year.
-We never did.
-I ran with you
doubling your footprints.
-They did not last.
-But our love did,
-didn’t it?

The seventh wave struck higher
about the dancing pair.
Laughing their way above the tide
they glanced up,
saw the older shades
bent apart,
watching.

-Shall we too be withered doves? wondered the girl.
-Never, cooed her mate.
Kissing, they ran off towards their dreams
as the wavelets wafted over their footprints
erasing what had been.

MEG

Her gaze comforts from the frame beside the lamp
as though she stood in the room.
Mellow, with the slower, steady gait of autumn days,
her gentle smile ever warming the heart.
Clear grey eyes hiding the hurt of loss
as daily, she faced his empty chair,
like the raven, bending to the elements
but resigned to carry on, unquestioning,
with the passing of her soul-mate.
The butt and ben, its inset beds and corner press
had shared their struggles through illness and loss.
Hoisted high on the pulley hung the work clothes,
observing miners and children bathe
in the zinc bath before the fire
while work-reddened hands scraped moleskins for the morrow.
These challenges, flowing downstream,
diluted by the distance of time and space
she recalled betimes like a passing acquaintance nod.
A whalebone frame in a wafer-thin dress,
her quiet ways held us close in her fine hairnet,
a cosy shawl of contentment
enveloping her offspring and their children
in her soft smell
and warm embrace.
My Granny

DESOLATION

Bootees peeked out from the cloud of white,
a blanket crocheted by a proud granny.
But the picot edges clawed at her heart
scratching the wound so it wept anew.
Rushing past,
Anne pushed through the opening
leaving it to close
against the pain
of loss,
of longing unfulfilled,
destroyed by a single chromosome.
Others saw a sour-faced drab
too mean to hold the door,
allow the new mother through
with her precious bundle.
The sting of \\\shona’s’s sorrow
unconsidered.
None
knew the fear that so much wanting
might drive her to seize another’s babe
whose need of love
enflamed her overwhelming need to care,
enjoy the caress of a downy cheek,
listen to its snuffling inhale
savour the tender warmth,
of a tiny soul.
So she fled to protect the innocents
surrendering to the abyss of her despair.

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