My name is Marcie Winstanley, I am a poet, student and community activist. I have lived in the North East all my life and am passionate about peace, poetry and connecting communities through shared heritage and stories.
Footprints in the tapestry of time
Time passes for all whose footprints walk the hills
Beyond. Who saw the fading winter
Morning as they trod softly?
Who watched the rain, light in the
Coming spring or wildflowers
As summers touch unfurled their petals?
Time watched. Watched the leaves drop.
And drift. Summer blown away by a breeze and
The misty twilight firelight where time sits
And remembers. Hestia fireside goddess
Watched and is watching and will watch footprints
Of the firelight shadows and time’s stories
By flickering firelight.
Your myth echoes. Intertwined. Like twisted plants.
And in the firelight, time remembers all whose weaving, whose brush marks, whose
Stitch-work are scattered forever like threads in a
Tapestry of time.
Commissioned by The Hearth Centre, March 2015
' When I was commissioned by the Hearth to write a poem, I was inspired by both history and art, and I chose to combine these in 'Footprints in the tapestry of time.' The historical aspect of the Heath is reflected in the number of lines the poem has; I wrote seventeen lines and split them into five stanzas. The number seventeen is significant because of the fact that the Hearth was used as a place of religious sanctuary in the late 17th century and the five stanzas show each of the centuries that have passed from the seventeenth century to the present day. The reference to the Greek goddess Hestia in 'Footprints in the tapestry of time' is because she is the goddess of the fireside which I feel resonates with the name the Hearth. I was inspired by Ancient Greece because Classics is my favourite subject at school and I have always been fascinated by mythology. Art is also an important part of the Hearth so I tried to reflect this in the poem too, by describing details of time passing as if it were a tapestry that artists were creating, continuing forever through the passage of time.'
I wonder, when was that
First day that I wandered
Among the primroses
Buds crisp and yellow in the
I wonder, when was the first
Face of the wildflowers'
Crowd joined by the bluebells'
How many times, how many hues,
Has the sky changed from grey
And with which passing cloud did
The bluebells fade? Which
Bee's hum opened the foxgloves
And, ferns curled amongst
The beeches' bark,
Scrawled the broken and
Tangled the honeysuckle?
And where does the chaffinch's
Asking the holly and the
Stream's edge to
A Picture's Music
I remember seeing a picture of a wide heather moor, with purple stretching as if forever, and in the brush strokes I saw the mystery of the land, from grey to violet to the fading blue of the horizon. I could almost hear, in the blurred corners of the stretching sky, the wing beat of a swooping bird and the echo of the wind. In the music of the painted world, I could see the sky turning darker for the night and a solitary star, alone and twinkling on the wide heather moor with the wind still whispering.
Where the gates are always open
I learn to feel uncertainty
When everything tells me to think
Of solutions and ways out of
A continuous stream of consciousness
That burns inside to tell me
Is the time
To sit and listen is not always
Still and to speak is not always
What is required
To sit and feel uncertainty, to
Feel the waves catch your toes in their
And to feel blades of grass on
To have faith that in the colours of the sunset
Is a message to the sunrise
And in all of your questions
Seek to know an inner peace
A place where the lake seems
Where the gates are always open
For some people, Spring can be a hard time of year, and that is the theme of my first poem. The second, Kenneggy, talks about a place I love and where I feel at peace, so two very different poems.
Ellen Phethean’s books include:
A Young Adult trilogy Ren and the Blue Hands, Ren and the Blue Cloth, Ren In Samara, Red Squirrel 2019.
Ellen Phethean lives, teaches and writes in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Coming to terms with Spring
Once, I ached and raged
against clueless snowdrops,
felt sun cut like a knife, halving my room.
Warm air laughed, daffodils trumpeted
about nothing, mud obscured my way,
bare trees loitering, stared me out.
What was Spring to me?
I looked backwards, into earth,
sharp green shoots pierced my heart.
This morning the rain on my window
suggested it had retreated.
I sat in darkness, a cup of tea,
in bed, listening to the recycling lorry
smashing glass in the back lane.
I got up and showered,
dressed in green and purple,
put on my gold oak leaf earrings
and noticed my hair was growing.
The table and chair under the tree
nestle by the Cornish hedge,
the last heat of the day
warms my back,
the honeysuckle’s sweetness rises
from the tangle of brambles.
The gin and tonic glass is icy
in my hand,
there’s a tang of lemon on my tongue,
bubbles up my nose.
Over the fields to the cliff
the house on the headland’s
granite walls sparkle in the rays
of the setting sun.
Blue as forget-me-nots, the sea
is as soft as well-washed cotton.
If there’s a heaven,
let it be this
like a long breath out
For nearly 50 years, since qualifying as a teacher at the Central School of Speech & Drama, Stephen has worked extensively as an actor in television, theatre and radio as well as being a teacher, director, producer, writer/researcher, role player and tour guide. Audio includes many commercial voiceovers, educational narratives and roles in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, Writing the Century and Home Front as well as various single dramas. Based in Lancaster for most of his career, Stephen also produced promenade Shakespeare and other entertainments at Lancaster Castle from 2000 – 2016 under the demi-paradise banner. Since 2017 he has been happily resettled in the north Tyne valley and now tours live readings of short stories and other writing with his company, The Border Readers. www.stephentomlin.co.uk
From The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Tall Nettles by Edward Thomas
Home Thoughts, From Abroad by Robert Browning
Young Lambs by John Clare
Sonnet 98 by William Shakespeare
From The Song of Solomon
Poetry Podcast for the Hearth’s Kindness through Culture Festival Spring 2021
Poems by Linda France included in the podcast, in order –
‘The Cuckoo and the Egg’:
Poem forthcoming in new collection, set to music and sung by Joshua Green (for Gone Cuckoo touring show)
From COMPASS, sound installation with Chris Watson at Cheeseburn. Published in Songs of Place and Time: Birdsong and the Dawn Chorus in Natural History and the Arts, eds. Mike Collier, Bennett Hogg, John Strachan (Gaia Project Press, 2021)
From You are Her (Arc, 2010)
‘Dreaming the Real’:
From Tomorrow’s Moon (Aruna Publications, 2015). Available as free download here
‘Flight of the Swallows’:
From new collection, 2022
‘Lindisfarne Silverweed’, ‘The Oldest Garden in the World’, ‘Haw Medicine’:
From Reading the Flowers (Arc, 2016)
With many thanks to Joshua Green for the music and Chris Watson for the birdsong