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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.
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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.’
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.'
Eric Gregory and Cholmondley Awards winner
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.
Radio 4 says nightingales
are in danger – surely they’ve
got that wrong?
I remember its scalpel song
slicing the summer night,
I remember the wide bed,
how it complained as we
into the middle, feeling for
one another in a spiral of
I remember your grim joke,
determined grimace, when pain
twisted your heart,
me thinking how temperamental
mobiles could be in this
But this time round your spray
worked its magic and we made
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.
You come to look for me,
your dressing-gown flapping.
A summer night,
Shasta daisies smiling moon-smiles,
a fat candle on the garden table,
its flame tearing ragged holes
in the stillness.
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,
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 …
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.
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.