This marks the end, I hope, of the worst case of writer’s block imaginable. It coincided with lots of family and work problems, and the longer it went on for the worse it became.

I did not stop writing, because I  was commissioned to write and illustrate gardening books. My husband and I have had a plant nursery since 1977, and the books came out of this. Those were happy times, including  lots of travel to exotic places to photograph plants and gardens together.

Then our lovely daughter, Imogen, suggested that I take an MA in Creative Writing.  And  I wondered why, when I  was a writer with every fibre of me,  I wasn’t writing. So I took her advice. And, during the inspirational year of my MA at the University of Lincoln, with great tutors and great fellow students, I somehow gave myself permission to write again.

bandaging hurt_edited-1

 

 Dieffenbachia or Dumb Cane

A bold foliage plant, though biting any part prevents speech –

I ate something I shouldn’t and gagged
on it.  Turned my language to a
stutter and my tongue lay still.
Then my head was bound and blind,
bandaging some hurt so tightly
that it died and tied me in.

So the years have been my clinic.
Somewhere to shut the world up
in a hushed place, where  nurses’ feet
shush on the vinyl. A womb, as quiet as
velour, and me in its dark plush,
paralysed. Until something pushed me

out to this space where my sounds
are new and awkward in my mouth.
And yet my story’s begging to be told.
My tongue – untied – begins to shape it
syllable by syllable. How I’d have
died, had words not called me back.

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