Read Abegail Morley's interview with Valerie here:


Valerie Morton was born in London, grew up in Kent and now lives by the River Lea in Hertfordshire.


She cannot remember a time when she didn't write something but bringing up a family took most of her time until she returned to poetry about ten years ago. She has been published in a number of magazines and placed in several poetry competitions.  


In 2011 she completed an OU degree which included creative writing and since then has run a CW workshop with a mental health charity. She is a member of Ver Poets , The Poetry School and an online poetry group.










Mango Tree


Valerie Morton


ISBN 978-1-909357-16-7


Publication 1st June 2013




216 x 138 mm


36 pages


£5.95 + P&P














Going Away



I spend my last night in the box room

listening to mother's unspoken questions.


Her open door tempts me

to spill my fears on her bed.  


But if I do I may never leave,

never travel to that uncharted world of you;


never rise above a dirty January sky

and watch the familiar lights of London


switch themselves off, leaving me

suspended – never see the Cedars of Lebanon


sparkle in the sunrise or wonder

at the mountains and glaciers of the Hindu Kush –


never risk that lump in the throat

when we cross frontier after frontier,


drawing me closer to you.








I wander through a day of strange sounds

locked out by my own voice.


Relatives come, curious about the woman

who’s crashed into their lives.  


Hindi voices rise, then lower as I pass.  


I stray outside to the letter box,

hoping to find that familiar aerogramme.


I trace my fingers over English names

in the telephone directory


for any flimsy connection.





Going Home



Goodbye is strange – no words –

just my eyes glued to yours

over a sea of well-wishers.


I've only stroked the skin of India

but she has opened her folded hands

to me and I'm not ready


to leave the rains that quench the dust

or the peacocks that strut

their ritual dance in fast-falling dusk.


Instead I take with me the scent

of dung fires, sandalwood

and rose-red cities in a suitcase


heavy with departure. I put on

my homebound face and shrink

into the bustle of Palam Airport


clutching a ticket that says Return.

I know it will be raining in London.

“These poems are at once subtle and evocative, delicately poised between personal and universal in a way that only good poetry can be. You will dip in with the intention of reading just one and emerge some time later, carrying with you a bundle of resonant phrases and images.”

Joel Stickley, 

Poet Laureate for Lincolnshire


“We walk with Valerie into an unknown, wondrous place, where we are invited to stroke the skin of India, read it with our fingertips, hold it in the palm of our hands.”

Abegail Morley,

Poetry Editor for The New Writer.


“Enigmatic and intoxicating, Valerie Morton's India is steeped in contrasts. In poems of displacement, discovery, apprehension and enchantment, she weaves memories of enduring love.

Mango Tree is a poignant tribute and a sensory delight”

Michelle McGrane


The inspiration for this short collection is one man and one country.  


Written through the eyes of a young English woman travelling to India for the first time in 1967, these are unashamedly intimate memories, (helped by diaries and letters)  inviting the reader into the vibrancy, mystery and cruelty of a country where waking up each morning is an epiphany.  


It is impossible to capture the whole of this sub-continent in one book, however enormous that book may be. This is India before mass tourism, before mobile phones and when an elderly man with a shawl and a stick was the only security needed at night; before Bollywood and technology; before the country exploded into one of the world's leading economies and before traffic pollution began to turn such treasures as the Taj Mahal yellow - an India where bullocks, cows and tongas took precedence over the motor car.


You gave me India



spread it out before me

in the clashing colours of sarees

drying on the banks of the Ganges –  

a chaotic palette of lights

and darks – a palette

that renews itself each morning

out of noise and disarray,

blistering heat and boisterous rain –


a palette that turns cities pink, temples gold,

and throws shadows longer than the night.





New Delhi



The waking city bursts into a circus

daring acrobats on a river of bicycles.


A single scooter holds a whole family, clinging

like coral plants, chunnis waving in colours


too bright to imagine. We brush past bullock carts

that trundle as if history has forgotten them.


Close your eyes – your voice is gentle,

but limbless beggars are already remembered.


We slow only for cows chewing on garbage

as if the middle of the road was a lush meadow


half a world away. You speak names:

The Red Fort, India Gate, Connaught Place


but in the taxi I sit trim as an English lawn

while horns give way to a tree-lined road.


There are dhobis ironing in the shade and a man

leading a bear with a ring through its nose.


I try to tell you, but you are talking to the driver

in a language I can't understand.





Mango Tree



You take me to your village –

to the mango grove where

you'd met the cobra.


You show me the place

where it slept in the heat

before unwinding


to a child's height

and rocking

from side to side


in fury or confusion –

you didn't stay long enough

to find out. I feel you hesitate


on the edge of the long grass

and my own feet refuse

to move, in case it's been waiting


all those years,  

to make certain

you and I could never be.


9781909357167 VM 9781909357167