New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:


Rachel Mann

I hear her in the garden
weaving madrigals through marigolds.
Her voice - a flute, tuned to the wind
winding top C around the Rowan tree.

She hangs shirts on the washing line
to arias by Mozart
and pegs out socks
to selections from Oklahoma.

On wet days her soft soprano
steals intermittently across the hedge,
when she steps to the wheelie bin
or scatters bread to starlings.

In spring, blackbirds catch the refrain
and trill a chorus to the Easter Hymn.
It lingers on the moist air

Indoors my neighbour is silent.
No sounds of Bach seep through muffled walls.
No notes escape the tall windows
or scale the chimney stack
to cascade
like Rapunzel's locks.

But locked in those quiet hours
does she chant in her heart?
Do her vocal strings constrict
with the effort of repression?

Or, does she count the beats
until, like an uncaged bird
she tastes the air
and sings.



Elaine Crutchley

This poem captures my own experience of a friend and neighbour who sings madrigals while tending everything from marigolds to mauvaises herbes. It is now me counting the beats as the days tick past to her departure from the home she has lived in for 40 years. We will lose the Bach and the madrigals, but would like to use this poem to celebrate her presence among us. In the magazine I am sure the poet is Sheila Clift so I am email the editorial team to ask permission to use it.

Posted: 08 June 2010