Wednesday, July 08, 2020


I went for a long early walk with Liz yesterday, above Chatsworth House. The track was open to begin with with far-reaching views, and then we went into the woods.  It was quiet and beautiful.

I had another refreshing interlude, late in the afternoon, sitting at my desk listening to sax ballads while sorting and packing away patchwork pieces I am never going to use. It was a little bit of heaven.

But then I thought about all the women I know who are finding life a struggle in the unrelenting pressure of these punishing times. 

The Sainsbury’s delivery man arrived. He was cheerful, friendly and helpful. But he seemed to have no concept of social distancing, and when he told me about his holiday plans I was envious. And I felt the chasm between people who behave as if the virus has disappeared, and those of us who are expecting a second spike. And meanwhile the Prime Minister continues his disgusting lies, and attempts to shift the blame for the thousands of unnecessary deaths onto those who deserve our thanks and support. 

These are strange times. 

I have permission  to share with you three poems: one by Alison Luterman, one by Helen Mort and one by Mandy Coe.

Invisible Work
Because no one could ever praise me enough,
because I don't mean these poems only
but the unseen
unbelievable effort it takes to live
the life that goes on between them,
I think all the time about invisible work.
About the young mother on Welfare
I interviewed years ago,
who said, "It's hard.
You bring him to the park,
run rings around yourself keeping him safe,
cut hot dogs into bite-sized pieces for dinner,
and there's no one
to say what a good job you're doing,
how you were patient and loving
for the thousandth time even though you had a headache."
And I, who am used to feeling sorry for myself
because I am lonely,
when all the while,
as the Chippewa poem says, I am being carried
by great winds across the sky,
thought of the invisible work that stitches up the world day and night,
the slow, unglamorous work of healing,
the way worms in the garden
tunnel ceaselessly so the earth can breathe
and bees ransack this world into being,
while owls and poets stalk shadows,
our loneliest labors under the moon.
There are mothers
for everything, and the sea
is a mother too,
whispering and whispering to us
long after we have stopped listening.
I stopped and let myself lean
a moment, against the blue
shoulder of the air. The work
of my heart
is the work of the world's heart.
There is no other art.
Alison Luterman
This poem can be found in Alison's book The Largest Possible Life (Cleveland State University Poetry Press). Alison's website is


Give us good days.
Days unspectacular but adequate:
the weather neither calm nor wild,
your coat zipped nearly to the top,

a silver thermos cooling in your bag,
the sky at Bamford reddening, as if
embarrassed by its own strange reach
and day-old pipe-smoke clouds.

Above the Hope cement works,
crows wheel arcs of guarded flight
and when you touch the rock
your fingers hold.

©Helen Mort

The poem is from a collection of poems addressed to the mountaineer Alison Hargreaves and appears in Helen's book No Map Could Show Them (pub. Chatto and Windus 2016).

Let’s Celebrate
the moments
where nothing happens.
The moments
that fill our lives.
Not the field bright with poppies, but
the times you walked, seeing
no leaves, no sky, only one foot
after another.

We are sleeping
(it’s not midnight and
there is no dream).
We enter a room – no one is in it.
We run a tap,
queue to buy a stamp.

These are the straw moments
that give substance
to our astonishments;
moments the homesick dream of;
the bereaved, the diagnosed.

Mandy Coe, from Clay (Shoestring Press)


Anonymous said...

Sue, you share such treats. Felt all the more keenly for my being one of the many who continue to put one wary foot in front of the other.

The poems speak truth, the photos - speak for themselves! Magnificent.

And your blog. A treat in itself. Brightens any day, whatever you share.

Our days of trivial variety will return - roll on. In the meantime, those poems hold much wisdom to sustain.

Thank you!
Thea x

Christine said...

Thank you. Wonderful poems. xx

Sue Hepworth said...

I am SO pleased you like the poems so much, Thea and Chrissie. They're in my permanent private collection. xx

Anonymous said...

I really liked the poems - they make everything seem enough for now. In spite of everyone seeming to be able to make plans - ( I think its probably like when you have just bought something and then you see it everywhere?) - they aren’t in fact but it seems that way. So many are as you say so uncertain about venturing out and feeling cheated. I could be brave and stoic and heroic when almost everyone else I knew and most of the rest of the world, was, but now the very same thing seems timid and lacking trust and being left behind. Thank you for reminding me to savour the personal victories and the small moments. Jenetta x

marmee said...

yes indeed, thank you for the poems! The poem by alison luterman is extraordinary. The work of my heart.....There is no other art. I feel like illusion is being stripped away in these times. The work of my heart....there is no other art.