Maria Isakova Bennett is the new Featured Writer. Her fabulous, musical poetry is so vivid it knocks you for six with its sensuality, with the power of what is not said. I can’t think why she hasn’t at least one collection out. I first ‘met’ Maria on one Bill Greenwell’s poetry clinics and when you spend weeks working intensely with poets on their new poems, and they on yours, you soon build up a sense of shared friendship. Bill’s clinics are like that and I have met several poets in this way who I have never actually met. I have occasionally had the good fortune to really meet them and they always feel like friends I have known a long time. I chose that picture of Maria as it shows her in Connemara, one of my favourite places on earth. Now you will know who you are reading when you find her poems in a magazine. But when, I ask, is some publisher going to snap her up?
December today and the night comes alive with stars, glittering coldly through the dark. The comet Ison was burned up by the sun and isn’t going to light up the sky after all. The days are often sunny, cold, dry and I have started working again in a garden in a farmhouse on the edge of Dartmoor below Honeybag Tor. It is a second home so stands empty most of the time. But I don’t think it is empty at all. I am there to tidy the flower beds, being careful to avoid next spring’s bulbs which are already sprouting roots and shoots. I am aware that at least one face appears to be watching from the window … perhaps because it isn’t me they are watching or waiting for, it doesn’t worry me. They are living in another time and I am sure that I am not even noticeable to them. Water falls into a pond and wind whooshes through the pine trees. There is really no one but me in the garden or in the adjoining fields. I keep glancing up at the windows and think about the births, deaths and marriages this house has seen. Someone is being expected home and words are being had. I can’t get my head round what the story might be, try as I might. We are invisible to one another but time here must be thin as a tissue. I feel a deep sense of peacefulness. Odd really… you’d think I’d be finishing off as fast as I can and running away but I’m not. A shadow moves behind a window but it could just be the effect of wind-blown clouds?
Last February, I wrote a poem about this feeling, er well, several actually and one of these has just been published in The Shop, one of the most beautiful and vibrant magazines about… not just because they took my poem, I hasten to add. The company my poem keeps makes me think there must’ve been some kind of mistake on the editor’s part. I know I worked on it at Bill Greenwell’s clinic and that there was disagreement about it. (You know what it’s like!)
Perhaps you could read it… although reading this one again makes me think you wouldn’t guess about the face looking through the window. That must’ve been another poem I couldn’t finish.
Just a touch of snow draws snowdrops
up into bud-spikes. When the petals open out
they stand mute like notes on a stave
till played on by the wind that shakes them senseless.
Other green points poke through the soil
and my instinct is to cover them and incubate
all the bare little commas and dashes they try to be,
the gestures of voice, the slight syllables
that will mature into a slang of their own.
The roots of their meanings spread through
the winter earth, until in the spring the flowerbeds
fill with sentences, responding with scents.