Sometimes, I feel my contribution to the world is minimal. So, what do I have to offer, I ask myself? I write words, try to form them into poems and stories, and I meditate and pray that my wishes for peace will reach other hearts, especially those in need of solace. Perhaps, through the vagaries of a quick-shifting virus there is something I have learned: from the deep quiet of a suffering world, we are still able to connect with a place that offers us peace of mind and shows us true beauty.
Unfurling was written during the early days of the pandemic. I think of these words more as meditations, observances, intimate moments of deep reflection gathered as I walked through the countryside near my home in the South Pennines. It was a time to unfold, seek solace and release the negative thoughts and fear brought to us in the daily updates from the media. Written during the endless days of an imposed lockdown, when time outside our homes was restricted to an hour of exercise, and when we could not meet with even one other person outside of our households, it was an opportunity to engage deeply with the natural world.
At times, the mainly indoor life was stifling, but at least we were still able to connect with each other online. My meditation group, poetry, and other creative workshops continued to inspire me during the quiet days, and it was also an opportunity to try out new activities. Online platforms such as Zoom were, and still are, a way of stretching our networks far and wide. Finding new communities suddenly became possible. I joined in with the Dances of Universal Peace, a spiritual practice that has its roots in Universal Sufism. With music from many traditions, the songs and the accompanying dances are a beautiful form of body prayer, a nourishing way of expressing love from the heart. Such a dedication to peace, and the sense of nurture and joy found in our co-existence with the natural world were all the inspiration I needed.
During my daily walks I became more absorbed in the world around me than previously. I saw the minutiae that at other times I had overlooked and found a deep sense of resonance that I hadn’t previously experienced. Sensing the words, I gathered the essence of those moments into my notebook and let them flow one into another, just like the days of this rare time of reflection. Although they formed themselves naturally, and at times randomly, I wanted each piece to convey the essence of its moment, to focus intently on it as if to seek out the heart, and to express a depth of meaning in its simplicity.
Unfurling was finally fully formed, a publisher found, and a book launch planned. A launch is a time of celebration, the release of a completion. Friends and other interested parties come along to support the author and to be part of the gathering. But time has moved on, and it feels strange to be launching a new publication in 2022 when our homes are filled with a torrent of daily news that consumes us in the horror of war. It is overwhelming but I believe we must continue to show our loving nature. Therefore, Unfurling is the raising of a flag of peace, a rainbow, albeit a weeping rainbow, and a flourish of joyousness in a cloudy world. More than that, it is a call from the natural world around us, all the healing balms that help us cope with the insecurities of our human world. So, if my words give solace to one other person, then maybe this is the answer to my question of what I have to offer. I am reaching out as best I can.
Listen to Alison Lock read at the launch which includes photos taken during her walks, all within a mile of her home.
Published by Palewell Press, Unfurling may be purchased here.
There is also an e-version on Amazon: https://rb.gy/4vxczp
For more information on Lock’s other books and writings, see: www.alisonlock.com
What makes you feel alive?
——-Is it the wingbeats of swans
whooping over the lake
——-or the churr of a wren in a tree?
Are you made quiet
——-in the awe of these wonders:
the blush of a rising sun,
——-the white of an unknown day,
or the might of an endless sky?
——-Do these things take your breath away?
Or is it a feather in the soothing hand of one
——-who knows the secrets
of your tenderness, or the brush of silk
——-against your cheek?
Do you open the window to breathe
——-the aroma of newly laid tar?
Whatever awakens you,
——-allow it to fill your being.
Take time to know the invisible plume,
——-feel how you open and close and open again.
Leaves tilt towards the bright
——-even in this dark season
where the air is unsullied
——-by the taint of indoor life.
Take a small cutting
——-from below the node,
plant it among the clouds,
——-water it with a river’s kiss,
let it steep as you wait
——-for the drums to beat.
Ponder the air that slips
——-between wavering stems.
Watch how the sepals hug
——-a new-formed bud,
how time slows
——-as uncurling fingers
——-across the tangled web.
My eyes are drawn to you
——-tree with silver foliage.
I walk around you
a slow unwinding
——-– that’s just my way.
I fold my arms around you.
Your skin has the attar
——-of one steeped in the heat
of an ancient summer.
——-As rain arrives
I press in my ear
——-listening to your thirst.
Cygnets flap along
——-the surface of the lake,
webbed feet trailing.
——-Cob and pen look the other way.
I pick up a feather
——-it’s cream colour
like the well-thumbed pages
——-of a book
the one by the telephone
——-with its ink faded but legible.
I read all the names under S,
——-looking for a swan.
Many are silent shadows,
——-others laid to rest
or simply dwell in a place
——-beyond our hills
but from these pages,
——-they flicker back to life.
As I slip the feather
——-into the unused pocket
the one at the level of my heart
Now all they need
——-is solid air
to perform the perfect grace
Alison Lock writes poetry, short fiction, and creative non-fiction – the author of two short story collections, four collections of poetry, and a novella. Her work has been published in many literary magazines, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Her latest poetry publication is Unfurling (2022) Palewell Press. Her work focuses on the relationship of humans and the environment, connecting an inner world with a love of nature through poetry and prose. http://www.alisonlock.com