love at the indian wedding

The colours swirl in red tornadoes, orange too

And purple fabrics speckled through with gold,

The love on show burns right through like sun

That beats on desert sands, crisping leaves

And market roofs, selling spices; pungent

In a thicker air than I have ever known.

I wish I’d known this kind of love before,

Swathed in silk and smothered with

The hungry beat of drums.

I went to my first Indian wedding yesterday, and I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing the experience was. The colours, the music, the tastes and the sheer size and sensory overload was intoxicating.

How I wish that here in the West we could enjoy those colours in our own weddings. Suddenly, our rather plain white dresses seemed so boring.

If you ever get the chance to go to a wedding that celebrates another culture then I definitely urge you to go along. I will remember the beat of that drum and how it uncovered some emotions even I can’t understand, for the rest of my life.

Much Love

Rachel xx

i hate that poem

red field summer agriculture
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I hate that poem, not because it’s boring

And not because the words are dulled with age,

I don’t hate it because it doesn’t resonate,

I don’t hate it just because it’s poetry.

And yet I hate it with a passion,

I wrestle with those jarring words

That pierce through skin and prick the eyes

With acid tears, the pain I hold back

Every day comes spilling out in tidal waves.

I am doing a team teach on Monday with the Deputy Head at our school. She is an English teacher and I look up to her as a role model and mentor.

So I went to her office today and we planned the lesson together. I told her that we were doing the poem ‘Poppies’ by Jane Wier, and her first reaction was ‘oh, I hate that poem’. I was so surprised because I had read through the poem and loved it.

She then went on to say that she disliked it so much because she has a young son and she finds the themes in the poem too painful. I was glad that she cleared that up and her reason made me like her all the more.

I try to get my students to see that poetry has that kind of power but it’s so hard to do this with young people. I guess a lot of it is down to the fact that they haven’t had the life experiences that us grown ups have had. But it breaks my heart that some students just don’t like it because they ‘don’t get it’.

I feel a little bit sorry for them.

Much Love

Rachel xx

packing up and leaving

blue travel luggage
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

The clothes are stuffed in messy mounds,

Every item pulled from old pine wardrobes,

Hangers clanging as I pull the dresses

Only worn the once, to some family wedding,

A second cousin I last saw at just seven.

Zipping up the bag I look around again,

The last time I’ll ever see this room

Where I cried when I failed that English paper

And the bed where I first had sex.

I shed a tear, even if I didn’t want to cry,

To show that weakness. I wanted the world

To see I didn’t give a fuck, but actually

It hurts.

Whenever I find myself going through a difficult time I always have the urge to run. My natural instinct is never to fight – it’s just to get the hell outta there.

I ran from college when life felt too hard, and I ended up in London and then South Africa. And then when I was struggling at the end of my time drinking, I always had this desire to just get in my car and drive.

The urge was so strong that I even had an exit strategy. I would park my car at the supermarket and get the bus into town, I’d draw a few thousand out of the bank and then pay cash to get on a train and just head north. I find it quite scary that I had thought about it in such detail.

I realised today, that I haven’t made any plans for so many years. There have been so many scary times and I’ve stuck it out – and wanted to stick it out too.

I think that these days I understand the pain that goes hand in hand with running away, whereas before, I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about my own pain that would come from running and, more importantly, I didn’t care about the pain I’d inflict on others. And for that I am thankful for the changes I have made.

Much Love

Rachel xx

lovely little study groups

person writing on the notebook
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

We come together in our lamp lit rooms,

Groups of three of four with heads bent low

Poring over texts we’ve learnt to heart,

To which we’ve cried and lol’d, identified

With headstrong girls that gallop through

Those yellowed pages from a hundred years ago.

And as the words bounce around our circle in

A hum of thoughts sitting on the tips of tongues –

‘Miss! I know the answer, I think –

I just can’t say the words quite yet.

But as we weave together all those broken pieces,

Like women at the clacking loom, singing songs

To aid the fingers in their work, we see

The outline of the greatness held within;

All it took was gentle prising from the brain

With help from friends in little study groups.

I ran my first little lunchtime study group today – and it was such a positive experience. I had some of my difficult students – who have made me cry – come along, and that understandably made me a bit nervous.

However, I’m determined to build bridges and make sure those students have confidence in me. After all, I hate the idea that they might be sitting in my class thinking I’m crap at my job and that they would rather have one of my colleagues teaching them.

I know from going to small bible study groups that studying in a smaller group can be really powerful. Something happens when minds come together and everyone has a chance to engage and listen to each other. And I find that pretty amazing.

Today made my heart feel full of gratitude (and a little bit of pride in myself, sorry). I’ll definitely be running these groups regularly and it has reminded me how much I have actually missed meeting with people and having a meaningful dialogue.

Do make sure that you take every opportunity to bounce ideas around with people; you never quite know what will come out of it.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

my beautiful london

architecture bay boats bridge
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

She sparkles elegantly as I press my head

Against the greasy night bus window,

St Paul’s Cathedral looms above its friends,

His history worn like cloak and dagger,

Hidden danger, intrigue and a little romance too.

The bus jolts with a gentle ease and doors

They open with a hiss, allowing men too drunk to stand

To stumble on and sit up front, the scent

Of vodka and a box of Marlboro Lights.

They titter like a pair of women over washing lines,

Missing yet another bridge, through Westminster

Where the laws are made and men from public schools

Tell us that they know us well, that they will fight

For all the things that ease our pain, when really

Only the glorious glow of the rising sun

Kissing the Thames will ease that rawness

Binding me, those drunken men, the teenage girl

Crying on the back seat, probably just dumped

By her boyfriend of two weeks – she’ll live.

London, you can fix it all with ghostly pasts

That teach us lessons as we lay our small hot hands

On the brickwork built from ashes of a fire

We learnt about in history lessons as we snoozed.

On the night bus it makes sense – finally.

Thank you London, for your classroom love.

lovely leathery skin

hanging brown leather gloves
Photo by Yuliya Maranina on Pexels.com

I wish that my skin was lovely and leathery,

Tough and textured, unlikely to pierce,

It’ll take many years to form skin so thick,

But when it is formed I will wear it with pride,

And never a person will make my heart cry.

I really want to grow a thick skin. I have been told that it will happen in my line of work. But I have to say that it can’t happen quickly enough.

Every horrible look that I get from a student, and every rude comment, hurts me somewhere deep inside my heart. I guess this is a bit like exercising a muscle and the more I let this stuff roll off my back, the easier it will get. But crikey, I wish there was some kind of gadget I could buy off a shopping channel that would get me there quicker.

I think I need to design and patent such a gadget and I will make my millions. The ‘Battery Operated Skin Thickener’ would be the number one stocking filler this year if I could design and manufacture it in time.

So for all those people trying to soften their skin with creams and lotions, spare a thought for us who want a nice leathery skeletal covering.

Much Love

Rachel xx

does money flow to money?

assorted silver and gold colored coins on gray surface
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

Like murky flows of water so polluted with

Our putrid thoughts and selfish acts,

The paper notes and crusted metal coins

Funnel from account to hand,

To yet another dirty hand. But surely

There are river banks that channel cash

And keep the poor from dipping in?

Let’s keep this wealth in places it belongs

And let those trashy people rot

In their flats, unheated and

Stacked with loaves of bread and value beans.

I went with my dad to a ladies’ night that was organised by the Freemasons last night. I quite enjoy getting dressed up for these nights out but I always feel really taken aback by how much money is thrown around.

Many of the men in my dad’s lodge are absolutely minted and I’m always left wondering how someone gets quite so rich. But then the games and the raffle begin and I start to think that maybe they just attract that wealth.

I have heard the expression that money is attracted to money, but I’m starting to see that there may be something in that saying.

Last night, one guy one about seventy quid playing heads or tails. It’s a game of chance, so why did he win rather than anyone else in the room? I just wonder whether there is some cosmic energy that people tap into?

Whatever it is that causes this phenomenon, I certainly don’t have any of that magical energy – and I’m open to any advice if anyone knows what these people are doing.

Much Love

Rachel xx

realistically magical

orange and white shoes
Photo by Aidan Roof on Pexels.com

Rooted in this dreary afternoon

There are the spells of wild imagination

That open doors onto the wider thought,

The things we wonder when we’re tired,

Ruminating on those frightening questions

On who we are and why we’re here.

Too big to deal with in the here and now,

We need to shrink, to boil it down

To something easy to digest, medicinal

And cures the common colds of mind.

They’re the stories that I need

To help me understand this world

Of complex joints and clockwork parts,

That no one really truly ‘gets’

No matter what they say.

I’ve self published a few books and it’s funny to see this element of magical realism that seems to thread itself through most of my work. I feel that might be for the same reason that I enjoy writing poetry: because I need to simplify the complexities of the world so that I don’t enter in on an existential crisis.

Whenever I teach symbolism and imagery to teenagers I get all excited because I feel like I’m going to open up a whole new world to them. Unfortunately, that never seems to happen.

I love to understand how the world works and how other people view it and I do like to think about what my purpose might be. I do think that we will have these questions answered at the end of it all. But while we are here, a bit of magical realism will help us to grapple with those ideas.

Now, I just need to find a way to get fourteen year olds to care about such questions. Ideas anyone?

Much Love

Rachel xx

a love of old maps

white ceramic cup on map
Photo by Filippo Peisino on Pexels.com

The papers roll out in large spools of art,

Covered in seas never sailed, and roads rarely ridden.

The crinkle of parchment and the yellowing lines

Add to the intrigue of maps from the past,

With so many errors and sea monsters drawn

To scare away travelers scared of the flat,

Worried they’ll sail right off the edge.

I follow those pathways with fingers untold,

The trails and the tracks that criss-cross the land

And taunt us in ways we hope to undo,

One day we’ll travel down each of those lanes,

Cross all those oceans and see foreign lands.

One last peruse of the beautiful art

And it’s rolled up and hidden, a secret

For someone to discover in years yet to come.

I really love maps and globes, and I couldn’t tell you where that love comes from. It’s not even like I know how to read the things. I literally could not live without my satnav if I’m not to get horribly lost.

But there is just something so magical about a map, and the older the better. The ones that are so old that they have funny creatures drawn in the oceans are my favourite. And the ones that are obviously really inaccurate because the cartographer had no pictures from above to rely on – they’re pretty cool too.

I think that a lot of the time, I like to imagine all the places that I could visit. I’m not particularly well traveled, so I enjoy the dreaming. What would it be like to take a boat ride down the Venetian canals? What would it be like to trek to Machu Picchu?

The people who actually draw these things are the real artists of this world. They are just beautiful to look at and I admire every little detail that is put into the work. I wish that we still had a use for them, but I guess Google Maps is fairly pretty – right?

Much Love

Rachel xx

celebrity break ups

cars parked on the side of the road
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

They come together in video shoots, wearing clothes

That show the midriff, and make up heavy blue,

Beautiful but far from natural, fans don’t want that now,

What they want is flashy love, a whirlwind hope

That this will work, when two pop stars collide.

They dance through time, cameras capturing their lives

That twist together, forming such a vital part

Of our psyche, of our culture. Songs and memes,

Will taint our world and soon we will rely

On knowing they are living in a blissful cloud

Somewhere on an LA hill, houses filled with pools

And cinemas and bowling alleys in the basement.

So when that Tweet or Insta post is sent out to the masses

Little parts of molten hearts, break away,

Splintering with sadness there’s no need to feel;

We don’t know them, though we feel we do,

And so there’s tears and breathless sobs

Until they sell that house and find a new

Partner for the Met Ball, someone for the scarlet carpets,

Passing one another like they’re strangers now.

It once was worth our sweetest thoughts,

The wish for marriage and for babies that will never come;

It’s sad. It hurts. But life just works that way,

Even if you have those millions in the bank,

You’re not exempt from pain to that extent.

Today Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello announced that they are splitting after two years together. I feel like I’m a bit old to appreciate their love, but their announcement did remind me of the sadness I felt when my favourite celebrities split.

I remember feeling particularly heartbroken when Britney and Justin split and it was equally as difficult to come to terms with Brad and Jen throwing in the towel.

I think that we feel the pain of these splits because we invest so heavily with our emotions. We want to see the relationships succeed because they seem so perfect – so if they can’t last, what hope do we have?

Much Love

Rachel xx