The Mole Story

September 18, 2017

The Mole Story – an elegy to molefulness
(Dartmoor Camp 2017)

Mole Story image - Dartmoor August 2017

The more I delve and dig
Into the dazzling and dense,
Distant and delicate world,
The more this not-seeing reveals itself;
So much so that today I thought,
Why not close your eyes, forever,
And simply dive? The smell, taste,
The moaning sound of the loam;
Fold deeper into your own
Tunnel into the great unknown,
Become a mystery,
Wait to be found?

But that day I met a mole.
It had surfaced onto the long grass,
Splayed out its enormous hands,
Strewn aside its fantastical spectacles,
Tipped its pink all-feeling nose
Toward the afternoon sun,
And, invisibly, died.
The mystery was here: borne
From the earth where, unbeknown to me,
I chose a spot for my own descent;
Yes, as though invited, like Alice,
To the wonder land and strangeness
Of an underworld drama,
I sat down on the still-warm animal skin,
A tiny velvet cushion of after-life
That breathed into my dark belly
This blind and silent whisper:

This is the once upon time,
To surface and wriggle free and,
Like a seed, burst and shed this skin;
Time to see your hypnosis break open,
And delight in the contours, the mounds
Of your hidden pick-and-shovel work.
It is time, o pilgrim, to live again,
To walk the pregnant bumps of earth,
And as a child, risk love in each step,
That extraction of shadow and soul
Where head pushes through,
Heart, then arms, hands and feet,
Into the shimmering, seeming beyond;
Where the human-being rises up
From timeless mother of ground,
Eyes meek, mouth tilted open in hope.

A good friend joined me for the burial;
Tummy-down in Holy Brook meadow,
We gazed at the mole-ful-ness wonder,
Kissed and studied the velvety beauty, the
O-so-sweet pinkness of snout and paws,
And under the willowy windy trees,
Dug and delved a leafy hole of love,
Returning this soul to its home,
Lenses flushed clean by sudden tears,
Blindness falling on the tiny grave.

This is not the end of the story.
The wisdom of the mole lives on;
It is tunnelling beneath you now,
Through the unseen leaves and soil,
As you turn the leaf of this poem,
Can you hear the turning ground?


September 18, 2017

This new poem Salt is one that I shared as part of a poetry and music evening in an autumnal candlelit garden in Frome. Each line of the poem is an acronym of SALT, inspired by journeys in France and Greece this summer, which together make up all the mineral grains of wisdom we need to be as salt in the world. The poem says it all really, and is dedicated to the countless people who are, and have been for me ‘salt of the earth’ during this year’s journey through loss; walked and pilgrimed with me, swam the big waves with me, offered me a shoulder to cry on, home to live in, words to soothe and also some times sting to bring out a taste for life I was yet to find; and joy and love that has purified and healed. You know who you are. Thank you.

Finally, by the end of the poem, the layered stack of sentences leaves us with a ‘pillar of salt’, a symbol from ancient folklore and the Jewish old testament account of Lot, a story reminiscent of the Greek myth of Orpheus, and the current refugee crisis. As Sodom falls into chaos around them, angels plead for him to take his family, leave the city and everything they own, and not look back. But his wife (Ado or Edith in some traditions) turns back to look, and is turned into a pillar of salt. The Hebrew for “looked back” means more than to glance over one’s shoulder. It means “to regard, to consider, to pay attention to”. So lines of the poem also stand as a reminder and encouragement; to purify where we put our gaze in the face of loss and, hard as it may be, to not cling on with nostalgia to what needs to be left behind, to make space to taste what is new.

salt running through hands


Shadow and light, treading
Softly after loss, tenderly
Stepping a lucid trail,
Steady anchor, lifting tug,
Sometimes asking layers to
Shed and loosen thought,
Space allowing love through;
So acceptance leads the
Soul, action leaps to
Serve and, lessening the
Self, a lofty, terrifying
Sweep across lost time,
Sacred and lowly, tells –
Self absorption likes to
Suggest awakening; lock the
Shutter and let the
Smugness attach less too!
Solitude and loneliness taste
Similar, ah, lighten the
Senses and listen, they
Seem, although lean totally
Separate, apart. Little tiny
Sparks appear, lighting this
Subterranean air, loudly trumpeting –
Such abandonment lies, trickery
Swoons awful, lessens truth,
Sticks and lurches to
Stultify anyone lingering there.
Salt, applied lovingly, turns
Sore acidic limpness towards
Sweetness, appreciation, like the
Song a lute tunes…
So after loss there
Swells a love that
Sings and lifts the
Soul above, leaving trauma,
Sadness, all lifeless terror!
Soulfriends and lovers, take
Solace; abundant life triumphs
Swiftly and leaps through
Sleeping; and leafy trees,
Silence, a looking that
Settles and licks the
Sting away, like the
Saliva licks a tear,
Surrounds all longing trespassers!
Sea and land together,
Shadow and light together,
Surrendering all life, together.
So allow loss to
Swing around like the
Seasons and lark’s trill;
Shattering alters love’s tale,
Simplicity and lusciousness taking
Shape around limbs, torso,
Senses, arms, legs, toes,
Secretly, artfully; lightest touch…