Lying in bed, me here, dreaming of lost happiness. Thinking of the sad faced girl who wants me to dye my hair purple. Thinking of soft rosettes, patiently sewn onto children's blankets, by deft fingers of headbent women. Blanketed babies with bright button noses, snug as the larvae of tent caterpillars. Me, lying here under heavy clouds, a memory pressed down, pinning me to the bed
I can't move and I get to thinking what it would be like to be dead and alive at the same time in a coffin and how I'd like a bell tied to my forefinger like the Victorians, so if I was dead and alive my finger would twitch, set the bell ringing. I get to thinking, as I lie here watching heavy clouds line up against the sides of mountains, of the time I peered over a sandstone ridge, up high somewhere in that inscrutable place where earth meets sky
how I looked down on a green river, watched cattle bathing. Heard the sound of a thousand voices singing, let's all gather at the river. How their voices shook the sandstone ridge and great blocks of New Mexican desert and how I scuttled back from that bloodred ridge, heard the first block of stone clatter down to the river belly, heard the stampede of cattle, whoosh of the river grown into a flood like a pregnant woman's broken waters.
Geraldine Green is a Cumbrian poet who has read and been widely published in the UK, USA and Italy. Her poetry has also been translated into Romanian and German. Geraldine's collections are The Skin and Passio (Flarestack 2003 and 2006), Poems of a Molecatcher's Daughter, (Palores Publications 2009) and The Other Side of the Bridge (Indigo Dreams 2012), from which Gathered at the river is taken. Her next collection, Salt Road also by Indigo Dreams, will be published in the summer of 2013. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University.
Geraldine is a freelance poet, creative writing tutor and mentor and an associate editor of online magazine Poetry Bay. An experienced performer, she has read at the International Women's Art Festival Kendal, Solfest Cumbria, Poetry on the Lake Orta, Italy and the Woody Guthrie Festival Okemah, Oklahoma. She runs poetry workshops and writing courses for writers groups and in schools, universities, organisations and community centres including Penrith MIND, Cumbria NHS Mental Health Trust, the National Trust, Society of Medical Writers and Brantwood.
Geraldine Green is Writer-in-Residence at Swarthmoor Hall, Ulverston, Cumbria. You can find out more about her writing and travels on geraldinegreensaltroad.blogspot.co.uk.
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Gathered at the river © 2013 Geraldine Green: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.