joanna paterson

along the way


waiting for the boat

I’m in the waiting room.
I’m waiting, waiting, waiting.
I’m waiting to exchange missives on the purchase of a house.
I’m waiting for the keys.
I’m waiting to hear about a job.
I’m waiting to work through my notice.
I’m waiting for an email, hour after slow-dragging hour.
I’m waiting for letters, for phone calls, for texts.
I’m waiting for responses.
I’m waiting for people to be on my time, and not theirs.
I’m waiting less than patiently.
I’m waiting to go to the island.
I’m waiting to be not-here.
I’m waiting to be there.
I’m waiting, waiting, waiting.

As I wait, I am trying to remember:

That there can be something truly lovely about the state of in-between, moving between one place and another, when you’ve left but are not yet there (when you’re on a ferry boat, anyway).

As I wait I am trying to remember:

The feeling of a poem that I first read many moons ago – some words I found in a newspaper, and cut out and pinned to my wall, without really understanding what it meant, or why it moved me. I’m nearly close to reading it in Gaelic now and though I still don’t fully understand the words in either language I know there is something there I need to remember, that as much as I am waiting, and planning, and making list after list after list, the destination isn’t the end and the horizon will no doubt stretch again when I get there.

An Dàrna Eilean

Nuair a ràinig sinn an t-eilean
bha feasgar ann
‘s bha sinn aig fois,
a’ ghrian a’ dol a laighe
fo chuibhrig cuain
‘s am bruadar a’ tòiseachadh às ùr.

Ach anns a’ mhadainn
shad sinn dhinn a’ chuibhrig
‘s anns an t-solas gheal sin
chunnaic sinn loch anns an eilean
is eilean anns an loch,
is chunnaic sinn
gun do theich am bruadar pìos eile bhuainn.

Tha an staran cugallach
chon an dàrna eilen,
tha a’ chlach air uideil
tha a’ dìon nan dearcag,
tha chraobh chaorainn a’ crìonadh,
fàileadh na h-iadhshlait a’ faileachdainn oirnn a-nis.

The Second Island

When we reached the island
it was evening
and we were at peace,
the sun lying down
under the sea’s quilt
and the dream beginning anew.

But in the morning
we tossed the cover aside
and in that white light
saw a loch in the island,
and an island in the loch,
and we recognised
that the dream had moved away from us again.

The stepping-stones are chancy
to the second island,
the stone totters
that guards the berries,
the rowan withers,
we have lost now the scent of the honeysuckle.

Derick Thomson / Ruaraidh MacThomais from the book Creachadh na Clàrsaich

Translation by the poet

(Apologies for the apostrophes appearing incorrectly on the ‘s in the Gaelic, I’m trying to find out how to fix this in WordPress.)

For those of you who have followed my meandering journey over the years, a slightly less oblique version of this is that yes, we are moving again. This time truly west, and north, to the Isle of Lewis. I hope to be there by the beginning of November. More no doubt to follow!

Also just to say a big thank you to those of you who took the time to comment or email in response to the last post. It was much appreciated, and a lovely reminder of the quiet power of blogging to connect, even for those of us who do it haphazardly now. Thank you.

Away and Towards

more than ever we need people willing to pause and listen, to open their hearts to what is uncomfortable, and to hold space and attention until the new thing emerges

~ Christine Valtners Paintner

Every so often, mainly on a Sunday, I think about writing something here. It can’t be that hard I think: just a title, a photograph, some words. A way back in, opening the door, back into your own space.

Sometimes I find a title, and sometimes a photo, and sometimes the fragments of some words, but even so, I don’t get beyond.

It’s something to do with the seeming size of the task, to find something worth saying, a practice worth practicing in the face of all the… the sheer weight of all the stuff that’s going on out there, day in, day out, relentless, remorseless.

It’s something to do with the shininess of the modern web, its gloss and promise. I miss the scruffiness of the human web I used to know, the home-made sites, the people sharing words and worlds without pretence at knowing.

Yet still in the turning away from so many things I do not wish to list, still there is a turning towards even if the shape of the new thing is unknown.

It’s not (for me) Art, or Writing, or Photography, but still something in this space between the lines that blogging offered / offers: unpolished, not knowing, open, human, connecting, here.

I fear I am not close to finding half the words I wish to, but also do not wish to let another Sunday pass away without some claiming back of space, some way of saying that even as we turn away and further keep on turning – we can still turn towards: unpolished, unknowing, open, human, here.

fishing boat, Ullapool

With thanks to Christine at the Abbey of the Arts for sharing ‘Mystical Hope and the New Thing‘ including the reminder to keep practicing, together and the nudge to me to keep going.

6 Herb Garden Hipsta Macros

6 American Sentences from July

a pine above the car park first the male and then the female blackbird

cyclists in lycra all along the towpath the scent of cow parsley

late sunlight on the surface of the canal the splash of a swallow

red spots on a yellow leaf beside the bramble flowers, lit by sun

bird seed, pigeons and a pair of jackdaws in Bathgate, Sunday morning

Whitburn Cross roadworks again and again the swoop of a house martin

13 July reflections

a day rich with summer
I fear the paleness of my offering:
the downy feathers of a fledging magpie,
a flock of starlings swooping flight,
the flatness of a rabbit’s ears, watchful as I pass,
late afternoon sun on the lines of farm worked fields,
teenage laughter hunting a football on the workplace roof,
the wayside splashed with purple, the season of self-heal:

was this really all there was?

all day
this richness
this all that there was