“I have always loved the natural world’s beauty, wisdom and how I am an inseparable part of the web of life. I have long experienced trees and stones as sentient and had profound spiritual experiences in wild and ancient places. Nature has given me solace and healing in times of distress, depression and despair. I realised I could not thrive without nature on my doorstep and moved from London. My current home overlooks a combe with stunning view of Somerset Levels. In 2014 I was thrilled to win the Indigo Dreams’ Geoff Stevens Prize for my collection Singing at the Bone Tree, written while on a residential writing retreat exploring our relationship with the wild.
“Back in the 70s I first became aware of the impact of human pollution on the planet and since then have tried to voice my concerns and adjust my personal lifestyle. In 2019 I spent my 70th birthday on London’s Waterloo Bridge, attending the first Extinction Rebellion. People of all ages and walks of life gathered to raise the nation’s awareness of climate emergency, in a peaceful and friendly manner. Police back then, were supportive and friendly, those who volunteered as arrestables were treated with some decency and were well supported by XR members. It gave me a glimpse of what is possible when people come together in a space of love and make a powerful impact. All those acts of love had a deep effect on me.
“Even though I’ve been aware of eco-issues for that length of time, it has taken till recently to allow myself to feel the depth of grief at what we have lost and destroyed, as well as the prospect we now face. I have tried to find words for that grief and to reach people’s hearts and minds. I have published and performed several pieces, including Plague Times, based on the Ten Plagues, which I initially chose for this article. I’m proud that it was published in Shearsman and it was remarkably prescient considering I wrote it in 2018, including this stanza:
This winter virus has no end.
The people cough their way into summer.
Vaccinations, rumoured to be toxic, do not help.
An unreliable source blames chemtrails.
“However, that poem is long and I chose instead I cradle my grief, which was published on Ink Sweat & Tears last year. It expresses the same grief, but opens out to include the many griefs we all carry, especially through the last two years. It starts tightly then spews across the page in its outpouring. This poem is perhaps at its most potent when performed. The audience are carried along by my words and then shocked when towards the end, I look directly at them and invite them to hold my grief like a baby.”
Rachael, a retired psychotherapist from Glastonbury, is published in journals and anthologies. Her first career was in acting, so she loves reading at poetry events. Her collection, Singing at the Bone Tree (Indigo Dreams), concerns our lost connection to nature. Her pamphlet, Girl Golem (4Word, 2018) explores her Jewish migrant heritage and sense of otherness. She is currently expanding this into a collection to include relationships, her LGBTQI identity and ageing.