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FIREBIRD

Born and educated in Scotland, Moira Andrew is an ex-primary teacher and Head teacher.  

 

She was also a lecturer in education at Craigie College of Education and part-time tutor in Creative Writing at the University of Glamorgan.  

 

Now a fulltime freelance writer and poet-in-schools, Moira has been writing poetry since the 80’s.  

 

Much of her published work has been for primary teachers and children.  

 

On the death of her husband, she moved from Cardiff to Cornwall where she has returned to her first love, writing poetry for adults.  

 

She is secretary to the Falmouth Poetry Group, a lively group of writers based in Cornwall.

 

Moira is a long-standing member of the Society of Authors and organiser of the Falmouth Chapter.

 

She also works with the Threshold Prize, an organisation linking writers with primary schools.

 

For several years, she has worked as writer-in-schools with children in hospital, (RCH Treliske in Truro), first as part of a nation-wide project and subsequently on a voluntary basis.

 

Moira also organises and runs Lapidus, ‘Words for Wellbeing’, writing workshops, dealing in the main with the therapeutic value of poetry.

 

 

 

 

 

Firebird

 

Moira Andrew

 

ISBN 978-1-907401-58-9

 

Publication 01/12/2011

 

Poetry

 

Rights Worldwide

 

138x216 mm

 

78 pages

 

£7.99 U.K

 

 

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‘A life is traced here, with its flow and changes  - sensual thrills, mature satisfactions, sadness and loss, all backlit by awareness of how provisional our tenure is. Each poem is a clear flask, with its lucid and unfussy language, its different elegant stanza shapes, revealing the passage of time it contains.’

 Philip Gross, 

T S Eliot Poetry Prize winner

 

'These compelling poems show us a poet coming to terms with grief, drawing on memory, wit, the present moment, and the rounded experience of a lived life.  A painterly eye brings skilful use of colour imagery to add to the impact of this aptly titled collection.  All the senses are alive in these pages where Firebird holds the key to love and death. Highly recommended.'

Penelope Shuttle, 

Eric Gregory and Cholmondley Awards winner

 

 

 

 

Firebird

 

If my love were a bird, I reckon

a phoenix would be the best bet.

Not that he’d agree, of course, what

    with that red-gold crest, that azure

        tail … too loud, too gaudy,

not at all the accountant’s image …  

he might just approve the mulberry chest

feathers, the colour of his out-to-dinner shirt.

 

I’ve considered a range of garden birds

and discounted most of them … after all,

the garden wasn’t his thing.

  He was up for a bit of lawn-

    mowing, but the rest was

down to me.  So if my love were

a bird, he wouldn’t be a blackbird or a robin.

And blue-tits are out … peanuts made him choke.  

 

Given the choice, I expect he’d go for

a hawk, king of the skies … or a peregrine.

He’d be OK for speed … in his day

   he’d been a demon right wing

       on the hockey pitch.  But once again

his eyes would let him down.  He always

wanted to be a navigator, but spectacles were

a no-no.  He never quite forgave the RAF for that.  

 

Now – if my love were a phoenix, even

the white heat of the crematorium wouldn’t

faze him.  He’d rise from the flames

   in a blaze of colour, living on air, immortal.

        Being Welsh, he’d enjoy singing hymns

to the sun … and he’d be young and strong again …

too young, too strong for me … I’m old enough to

wear purple … he’d want to spread his wings and fly.

 

 

 

 

 

Night Song

 

Radio 4 says nightingales

are in danger – surely they’ve

got that wrong?

I remember its scalpel song

slicing the summer night,

of Laveyssière.  

 

I remember the wide bed,

how it complained as we

rolled helpless

into the middle, feeling for

one another in a spiral of

  luminous dark.

 

I remember your grim joke,

determined grimace, when pain

  twisted your heart,

me thinking how temperamental

mobiles could be in this

godforsaken valley.

 

But this time round your spray

worked its magic and we made

frantic love

while from deep in the patch-

work woods, rose an unbroken

     thread of song.

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait Of A Man On Holiday

 

The sun makes a mirror

   of the page, blinding the reader.

He concentrates, breath shallow

   as a ghost-whisper.  He wears

a striped shirt, open at the neck,

   rimless spectacles, sweat.

His head is a peeled chestnut,

   fringe of hair fine as spiderwebs,

each strand gleaming.  I reach out

   to touch, one finger’s worth.

He looks up smiling, lays

   a warm wide hand on my back.

 

 

Candlelight

 

You come to look for me,

anxious,

your dressing-gown flapping.

 

A summer night,

see-through dark,

Shasta daisies smiling moon-smiles,

geraniums velvet-black,

a fat candle on the garden table,

its flame tearing ragged holes

in the stillness.  

 

Uncurious, accepting,

you sit beside me

on the slatted wooden chair,

(hard on a backside clad in pyjama bottoms)

take my hand,

twirling its wedding ring

round and round.

 

The silence is peppered

with small sounds,

stems creaking,

a shuffle of slippers,

the candle spluttering,

a petal falling.  

 

The cat pads outside,

jumps on your knee.

 

Stocks, nicotianas, lavender,

roses hanging from the archway

trail love-letter scents across

the night air.

The flame sends a shiver

into the dark, gutters

to death’s door and blackness

is absolute.  I shiver too.

 

 

 

 

 

Calling The Tune

 

when I was young,

I used to throw myself

into your cold arms

rain or shine …

 

I’d roll my tongue

around the taste of you

relishing your lips, foam-

wet, on mine …

 

one whiff of your

salty pheromones and

I’d race, almost naked,

into your embrace …

 

once you tempted me

with a sunlit come-on,

before bearing down,

murder in your eyes …

 

but I forgave you … now

I no longer beat my wings

like a butterfly … I’m content

to stroll at your side …

 

mesmerised by the changing

colours of your coat, silver,

indigo, the purple of

ripe aubergines …

 

lured on by your rich

tenor, insistent, unceasing,

push-pull, push-pull …

as ever, you call the tune …

 

 

 

 

 

Persephone’s Daughters

 

They live their own lives, these

daughters.  They must.  OK, so

their spring was yours, but you

had to let them go – to fall out

of trees, off wobbling bicycles.

 

Skinned knees made better

with a kiss, a Band-Aid, a toffee –

easy it was, in those snowdrop days.

Turn your back and spring’s become

summer, celandines are sunflowers.

 

And you, in your copper-leaved coat

must remain silent as they fall in and

out of love, their tears tearing holes in

your eyes. No pomegranates for them –

they take knives to unripe lemons.

 

When the autumn sun rides high,

you gather the scattered pips, poke them

into pots on the greenhouse shelf.  You

pour wine, make cups of scalding coffee

and look forward to the white of winter.

 

 

 

 

 

Five Tulips

 

I’d like some flowers please, I said,

eyeing up roses, alstroemeria, yellow lilies …

Sorry, the woman smiled,

you’ve got to order them.

But my daughter’s just died …

Sorry, she said again,

looking past me as people do

when it’s clear they couldn’t care less.

 

The garden centre, I thought,

but it was shut, padlocked.

I rang the bell,

rattled the gate.

A man shambled out, Can’t you read?

 

I was angry, fists balled, nails biting

into my flesh.

My daughter had died and

I couldn’t find flowers.

I checked my vases,

nothing doing, the leaves had gone brittle,

stems slimy, heads drooping.

 

A neighbour took pity on me.

Jump in the car, he said,

I’ll pick some from my garden.

But the flowers had prickly stems,

more bush than bouquet.

I couldn’t give these to my daughter.  

 

In the shop, the woman laid five tulips

on the counter.  They were beautiful,

mixed colours, like in a catalogue.

But they’re spoken for, she said.

 

So I stole them, snatched them up and ran.  

I wrapped the tulips in blue paper,

placing them with such precision

that each head looked its best …

yellow, pink, orange, flame-red, white …

perfect, in fact, just the flowers

for my dead daughter.

Moira Andrew at Falmouth 2 9781907401589 dreamstime_xs_8184303 dreamstime_xs_19589260 dreamstime_xs_8121025