Ah, I've missed this blog and somewhat neglected it this summer but it has been a busy time.
So ... for fear for straying into more personal territory than I usually do, it is less than three weeks until I am due to give birth to our son.
As I type these rather plain words, I still can't quite believe it. But there is a focusing, a narrowing down of attention I can feel in myself as he gets ready to be born. I feel this as I wash and fold babygrows (which if people know me, is really quite uncharacteristic) and also become increasingly preoccupied with the world close by, and the certainties of home.
(It would be interesting to research the behaviour of animals as they prepare to give birth).
I remember just before I had our daughter I went through a manic few hours down on my knees, weeding! This will be the third birth and I hope it will be powerful and strong.
Yesterday I had a growth scan and the baby had his hands up over his face, like a dormouse. It all seems both remote and completely intimate...especially when I am waking up all night with his rolls and shifts.
I like the idea there are two heart-beats in my body, beating at different speeds.
I'm also going to ask to see my placenta, if possible, as I'd like to look at the organ that has sustained the baby for these months, and also think about the idea it is a genetic interloper. Both slightly sinister and incredibly rich, like a sort of benign second mother-lode..flesh that is not my flesh but I have grown.
Anyway, I have been writing as much as I can this month, as part of the residency for the phytology project at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve. Much of what I have been doing is, perhaps unsurprisingly, botanical, with some charms using herbs found at the site and based on Anglo Saxon translations. Someone recommended the Bosworth Toller dictionary which has been so useful.
I like the AS riddles and charms best of all. Most exciting for me is when some of the language is directly linked to our speech and sentiments of today. There is also a lovely sense of rhythm and music as all these poems were meant to be spoken and heard, and were often performative charms.
Here are just a few words..
Beaorn is child, flaed is beauty, frith, peace and weald power. Leof - beloved, wifcild (girl child) and fugol (fowl) with finc, cocc and nigtegale. Then there is meoluc (milk), and litmus (litr) is dye and moss.
I've also been reading a bit of herbal folklore with remedies, often known as a 'purgative spew drink' for people with whom 'the devil has intercourse' for example. Some of the folklore is pretty - if a girl washes her face in the dew from the hawthorn tree she will always be beautiful.
And some are downright bawdy - "for a woman that has great breasts - anoint her paps with the juice of succory - it will make them round and hard.
"If they be hanging or bagging, it will draw them together, whereby they shall seem like the paps of a maid."
Better than a dodgy silicone implant.
That's from a book called Hatfield's Herbal, found here -
I have also been reading a lovely Picador anthology somewhat soppily titled 'All the poems you need to say hello' and edited by Kate Clanchy. It's full of an eclectic range of poems about making life and this is one of my favourites so far, by Paul Muldoon, which captures something of the chatter and beauty and multiplicity of the world a child comes into. I particularly like the banality and briskness of the ending which somehow both deflates any pomposity yet celebrates birth (and humanity). Sorry about the picture quality!