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A LIFT OF WINGS
Kerry Darbishire is the great great niece of the composer Frederick Delius down her mother’s side. When WW2 broke out her actor parents who were touring England, found themselves out of work and moved north to the Cumbrian Lake District. Kerry was raised in a quiet village where the mountains, rivers, fields grounded her love of that landscape. The many artists, writers, musicians and walkers welcomed into their tea garden and household had a profound effect and has since influenced her writing. Kerry was bound for art school when at eighteen she married Stephen Darbishire, an artist who had entered into the ‘pop’ business, writing and making records.
When this came to an end they settled back in the Lake District with their two daughters and ran a small holding. Kerry began writing songs and recording. Elkie Brooks and Hazel Dean were amongst singers covering her songs. Her career came to a halt to look after her mother; “This time we spent together was very special, we became even closer and I learned so much about her early life.” After Kay, her mother, died, Kerry began writing poetry and attending local workshops. She gained a Hunter Davis Bursary to write a biography on her mother’s life (which is still in process.) In 2013 she was mentored by Judy Brown at the Wordsworth Trust and has since been published with Dawntreader - Indigo Dreams Publishing, The Interpreter’s House, Mslexia, Grace Magazine, Ver Poets anthology, Poetic Republic ebook, Live from Worktown anthology, Forward Poetry ‘A Way With Words’ 2014.
Her poems were shortlisted in the following competitions: Mslexia 2013, The Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize 2013, Mungrisdale, The Charles Causley 2013. Recently Kerry organised a collection of local poetry at The Sheepfest, Sedbergh.
She continues to find inspiration in her beautiful and wild surroundings.
A Lift Of Wings
Cover painting Stephen J Darbishire, RBA
Indigo Dreams Publishing
138 x 216mm
£8.99 + P&P UK
ORDER HERE (PLS NOTE REGIONS)
I’m fifteen, looking back at the fells
their tops smeared by mist.
Dad is facing the lens, salient, reclaiming his prize.
I remember that day on the lake,
the pull and slip of oars in wide black water.
Our out-of-depth conversation
darted like pike in their dark homes
searching amongst embryonic layers
for each other. I can imagine how he felt
in those two hours of hire. I see it now – gold-framed,
his smile as uncertain as the void beneath our feet,
expectation grabbing the stained shore.
I’m wearing the silver leaf-brooch he gave me.
His paisley cravat is loosely tied inside a blue shirt –
the one he always wore for best.
The Night Dad took me to the Island House
named after beautiful Isabella,
we rowed across the lake
hunched against a January squall
slicing off the fells.
I imagined her boat
on the moon-full water
easing off inky pebbles in the bay
where winter trees jigged
in the last lap of oars.
Her cries soft as ribbons
slipped brocade coverlets,
in armoured bedrooms,
floors tapped like oysters
and sash windows
higher than churches
fluttered like wings
amongst bony arms of red velvet
that banned light long ago –
before naphthalene oozed
from the wardrobe –
bequeathed tweed suits stiffened,
before breath turned
the colour of a moth in winter.
After I’d read an extract
from My Family and other Animals,
I told her about our latest walk – the view
from Innominate Tarn, how mist crumbled
like biscuits in the wind as we sipped tea.
How Lucy dog leaned to sniff
the bite and Buttermere floated
like a white blanket in and out of the sun
towards the sea.
I doubt Wainwright noticed
how hard it was for young mothers
to push buggies over the rough path
around that lake. A short walk for some,
for us, the trek of shedding
four brittle years in one day –
as if we could.
to convince the nurses
that at home was best, safe,
familiar after fifty four years.
We nailed down rugs, moved chairs,
taped lino from sitting room to bathroom
an easy route – short – no steps involved.
But they failed to believe
that she could manage blind.
Just before she slept,
she squeezed my hand like summer
navigating every gully, stream,
ferned rock up there and whispered,
one day a snow goose reeled through low clouds
as near as I am to you.
I’m in love with this place
its snow, storms, those promising stars
and the way after last night’s frosty grip
the stream cuts like steel
between the fell wall and the ash tree.
The scent of moss drips notes so sharp
and clear I want to drink. And here
the smooth pentatonic hum of a bee
loops and keys into celandines –
rises and falls across the silk blue-violet valley
where one summer years ago I stood
with my arm around you in belief – swayed green
on singing ground. But how the ash leans now,
girth-wide – gravel skin – slow to let go
this season’s prose from ink-stained finger nails.
The scratch of pencil dry
along my jaw
rocks back and forth.
His sharp blue eyes dart
from me to board to me to board
like a wren
searching for a landing.
Books, frames and canvases
are stacked in years
around this eaved room
lit only by the north.
Turpentine – spilt, stained and layered
reassuringly deep. Still
as a camera I must breathe
Through the open window,
I fly celandine meadows,
jump crackles of becks cupped in moss,
lie in woods, wind flowers, bracken,
soar through stained-glass blue mountains
into endless sky
until sun, sun splits clouds,
props and shifts distance,
hauls me back here
to my leaden chair
aching arms and numbness.
Slowly I stand,
move into his position
and see myself.
The Spare Room – Dove Cottage
In the event of Coleridge coming to stay,
in order to hold back damp, Dorothy’s solution
was to spread the walls with yesterday’s
news. I see him, this sweet primrose month
wrapped in The Times, reading by candlelight
before flickering into Black Drop sleep
to dream of dearest Sara this night
when stars fell secretly too deep.
In the visitor hush of this upstairs room
I watch the window’s backdrop of sorrel,
ferns unfurling, poppies in such gloom
craving sun beneath the thickest laurel
in her noon-long shadow – keeper of rain
this April day, his footsteps on the lane.
On that Starry Night
You lay in feathered paleness –
elegant as a swan on the river – gliding
towards the edge of a waterfall.
I waited by your window
in silenced prayer.
Across the valley gold sliced warm curtains,
spilled out conversations – once ours.
I wanted to show you sheep
bedded like boulders in wet grass,
ebony tracks of startled deer
and tell you how an owl shadowed pines,
snatched sharp air like food
in the snare of winter
when a lift of wings
“Kerry Darbishire’s poems combine delicacy with unflinching observation, evoking a Cumbrian landscape rich with memory and finely-sketched characters. The poet’s fluid and exact language shows childhood and old age in a land which is itself vividly characterised. This is an achieved and wise first collection, a tapestry of skilful soundwork and image, of fells, family and a struggle to hold everything in balance – poetry for life.”
“The poems in Kerry Darbishire’s ‘A Lift of Wings’ are rooted in memory, but more than this they seem to inhabit the memories that are their starting point, recreating them with perfect detail and delving into them for new meanings. Rural Cumbria is not only the setting for much of this work it is the fabric out of which the beautifully musical poems are woven.” Andrew Forster
“Kerry Darbishire’s collection ‘A Lift of Wings’ address grief, loss, memories and love with a touch that is sensitive and lyrical. Her poetry is both well crafted and musical, never forced. The title is well chosen and perfectly suits the lift and fall of her work. The language is close to the earth. Nowhere is this deep love of place more clearly shown than in the poem ‘The River Brathay’ that runs like a flock of Herdwick. .In ‘Mr Mounsey’ is language Heaney would be familiar with in its strength, clarity and simplicity. Darbishire’s poems shine luminously in an often dark world that sometimes seems devoid of compassion.”