Greta Sykes – The Sacred

Sykes profile LE P&W Jan 2021

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing January 2021.

Poet, writer and artist Greta Sykes has published her work in many anthologies. She is a member of London Voices Poetry Group and also produces art work for them. Her new volume of poetry called ‘The Shipping News and Other Poems’ came out in August 2016. The German translation of her book ‘Under charred skies’ has now been published in Germany under the title ‘Unter verbranntem Himmel’ by Eulenspiegel Verlag. She is the chair of the Socialist History Society and has organised joint poetry events for them at the Poetry Café. She is a trained child psychologist and has taught at the Institute of Education, London University, where she is now an associate researcher. Her particular focus is now on women’s emancipation and antiquity. Twitter: @g4gaia.      German Wikipedia: Greta Sykes.

An ancient epic history of love and power by Greta Sykes.
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The sacred

You say the pink of the camelia,
Is shallow, I say its piercing, fervent.
The blue in bluebells, is it
The same for you and me?
That yellow of the crocus: for you a mellow,
For me a spike?

The sacred lives inside us, unique
Unknowable yet known.
What meaning for you in Buddha’s resting head?
Calmness, contemplation?
What meaning for you when Mary Magdalene
Washes the feet of Jesus with her tears?
Is the sacred inside her?
The pain I feel, is it the one you feel?
My passion for words, is it like yours?
The meaning I assign the moon
Or clouds, is it your meaning too?

The sacred stems from
the maternal dampness of the earth,
our innermost core,
a sacred with a double-edge,
it’s fierce at once and passionate
It’s in my flesh, my bones,
It’s ancient and yet
vibrant and new each day.
Born by the sacred Createss, Gaia,
it stirs me awake, brings forth dreams,
poetry and freedom,
The inexpressionable, from
The deep core of my existence,
From the chaos at the beginning
Of time, from the roots of trees.
The sacred forges a path
From within, an ecstasy
of freedom from the milky way of my brain.

The Virus

The storm in Chicago
We should have known,
When the butterflies waved their
In the rainforest, we should have known.
The delicate balance of
Earth, its soul and soil deeply
Damaged, raped like a woman,
We should have known.
It was going to respond.
Make a storm in Chicago
And London, New York.
Gaia’s frustration with us,
And a tiny ancient instrument,
a virus, like a magic wand
waved in exasperation,
we could have known,
if only we had listened.

Intoxicated abandonment

Bronze golden lanterns
Tremble, quiver as if dancing
In the early wind of dawn.
Hypnotised and half asleep
I watch the mystery of nature
From my window.
the sickle of the moon is
Tumbling into a ribbon of white cloud
And stars.
The golden leaf shadows are on
The street and pavement.
The bronze lampions of the air,
Have turned to be
Derwishes, they turn and twist
in a wild dance of joy,
nature at play,
intoxicated abandonment.

In search of lost times
or Reading Marcel Proust

The months have passed without us,
Locked in we’re hiding from the world.
Corona virus slammed silence
On the globe, just chatter left.
At night I dig my head under the pillows,
Upon waking, I’m thinking, am I breathing?
Events on calendars eliminated at a stroke
A virus made of bits of RNA, it searches
To live and spread among the human hosts.

In search of days and weeks I lost,
I run, I flee, become a fugitive and runaway,
Yet end up at my desk again,
I try and fail to count the sameness,
The monotony of tiny daily tasks, that drill into me,
become all powerful,
and tack me down
Flat on the ground,
Brushing my teeth,
Combing my hair,
Washing my hands,
Washing my hands.
Creative springs dry up,
the disturbing fear
Pursues me into every fibre,
Leaves just one thought, am I alive,
Is my lung still full of breath?
Can I still smell and taste?

In search of lost time
I take to my diary, pin down
Each daily special story:
The park bench with the man asleep,
All his possessions in a shopping trolley
Tied to the bench, his coat a pillow.
The woman who smiles at me and I smile back
As we pass each other thinking the same:
The government is made of liars, charlatans.

I plunder through my calendars,
To find a date, to make a date to meet a friend
pursue an escape from daily routine.

I search for lost days and weeks,
Lost minutes as I’m wasting time, to look for time,
I count the leaves on trees, so green and vibrant,
Count the white clouds that drift across above me.
Then the news again and again: Fear for your life,
You are a vulnerable citizen,
We do not need you any more,
I age without escape.

© Greta Sykes