Sue Beckinsale

Sue was born in 1956, grew up in Kent and lived and worked as an English teacher or tutor in East Sussex, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, California, Oregon, and New Zealand, before moving to Somerset in 2012. She believes it may partly be a sense of impermanence that prompts her to write poetry or an attempt to express the elusive essence of things, to evoke the sense of a person, place or experience, to bring it closer.
Sue has read and written poetry since a child. Now, through Fire River Poets, she is discovering the joys of listening to, reading, writing and editing poems with other poets and gaining the confidence to share her own poems with a wider audience.

A selection of Sue’s poems is given below:
Meeting my other (Badbury Clump)
The Wishing Pool
Waiting, for June and Will

Meeting My Other

Badbury Clump

Under waves of beech-leaf greens, I swim in my bonds.
As I listen for the absent hum of bees from bluebell seas,
you come and set with the sun, behind my shoulder–
an attached shadow at the edge of all senses,

Iron Age lady,

your spine straight as a Catuvellaunian sword,
shepherdess’s shoulders warmed by wool you spun,
dyed berry-red, wove and clasped with a ring-pin brooch,
your mane nut-brown, braided and beaded,
skin sun-tanned leather,
fingers herb-stained, sickle-tipped, nimble as your shuttle.

Your clay-cracked feet tread lightly behind.
Your uninhibited eyes, frown and inspect me –
as women do who are each other’s mirrors –
until I – self-conscious in the tissue of my skin –
feel the whiteness of my trimmed nails,
the combed flow of my styled hair,
the polyamides of my dress and shoes,
my bottled water, my jangling car keys–
me a potted houseplant, well-fed,
chemically protected from disease,
and from rain and wind by a rectilinear world,
digitally-connected, in digitally-measured time.

Though my ears nerve-strain and my eyes in-vision,
I dare not look behind lest you fade, sister,
like Erecura or Euridice back into winter’s shades
beyond the boundary of insight.

Was I once like you –
my seat a turf or stump,
skin acrid with soil and woodsmoke,
splashed with the blood-warmth of milk and calf flesh,
chapped hands softened with lanoline,
carrying water in clay pots,
my days and seasons turning with the sun,
sustained in circles of time and hut, ditch and bank,
mind spinning with curiosity in an unwritten world –

haunting this hillfort as you haunt me?

The Wishing Pool

On Dartmoor I met a widow who asked me home then said:
“Oh yes, my dear, I know the place.
It’s called the Wishing Pool.
Yes, the water must be noisy now,
there, after such a storm…

When war broke out, they announced it in the newspaper.
(It lay just there on his desk).
Bravely, my husband said nothing,
but I knew it was there he went–
to the Wishing Pool.

There, where moor meets trees,
enchanted, emerald realm, seamed by a weaving stream,
there, where leaves unfurl, unseen, in shadow,
where trees slow-bend through numberless windswept years,
let rain drip through fingers filigreed, to ripple the glazed brook below,
there, where drizzle filled the oozing banks with puddles deep,
flooding his footprints, leaving mud between his toes (toes that I loved)
netting his hair in a million quivering drops.

So when, in no man’s land,
his shell shrieked, his brain burst over the battlefield,
it was there, surely, his strong spirit flew,
there, where water, cold from the moor,
runs deep round granite rocks,
where, perhaps, that evening,
a shocked blackbird, late to shelter, screamed past,
then all was still, save two frantic ferns, waving…
Oh yes, my dear, the water is noisier now, there, after so much rain.”

Waiting, for June and Will

He was a gardener,
patient, bird-like among beans and blossom.
She is a cook,
generous, broad-hipped among pickles and pies.

In a moment alone with me
she puts aside the paired needles, the bootie of blue wool,
(knit two, purl two, knit two together)
then folds in her hands a rose carved from wood,
“I miss him, you know.
Will and I fell in love
when I was fifteen and he was twenty-eight.
He made this for me, a rose to hold for a year while he waited.
He married me in June, the day I turned sixteen.
There’s never been anyone else, you know.
We made love all our lives
until three months before he died.
He was eighty-nine. Did well, didn’t he?
I talk to him still, you know,
sounds silly I s’pose,
tell him how he’d love my hellebores,
tell him about the children and grandchildren
and now our great grandchild on his way.
Talk to him all the time, I do.
Tell him to wait for me again.”
She strokes the wooden rose –
holding on, bringing him closer,
feeling his shaping love,