Being at home


What the buggy in the hall taught me

Time is slower than you thought. Each day
is long, exhausting and full of possibility.

Thinking isn’t all that. The crunch
of a crisp packet is a happening.

Painting doesn’t pass the time, it stops
and lives time. It is as essential as toast.

Glitter is not mess. Nor is mud. Every
terraced house has a step to be stepped on.

There are often caterpillars to be found,
and sometimes ladybirds. Failing that, woodlice.

You can have the best conversations
with things that don’t answer back.

Two-thirds of the way up the stairs
is a perfectly valid place to read a book.

In the afternoon, if you’re too tired
to do anything else, you can always dance.

If you need to make a beach in the living-room
it will be possible; it’s ok to want a t-shirt

with a goldfish on. If it doesn’t exist, you
can make it. It takes as long as it takes.

(Ailsa Holland)


When I wrote my last post about pausing, little did I guess that the pause button was about to be pressed on the whole world.

As things got serious I realised I was feeling something I haven’t felt for a while and identified it as the anxiety from the first days/years of being a mother — that realisation that the world is full of danger; that the survival of loved ones is going to require hard work and vigilance — and even then is not guaranteed.

And I’ve found myself going back to a certain extent into ‘new mum mode’: not expecting too much from the day in terms of ‘achievement’, trying to live each moment as it arrives, seeing interruptions and unplanned demands as opportunities.

I really believe that experience of forced slowness was a key part for me of becoming a poet, something I’ve tried to express here. The pram in the hall can be the birth of art.

It’s weird having everyone at home again and I love it. (It’s incomparably easier this time of course because they do their own stuff much of the time and I do mine.) We’re painting again! And baking, gardening, dancing in the kitchen. There is a new fear but there is also more green in the garden every day and I hope there will soon be fresh poems.

Take care and stay safe.



4 thoughts on “Being at home

  1. Sarah Miles April 1, 2020 / 4:57 pm

    Ailsa you are so dynamic, thank you for sharing this poem and your current thoughts; it’s uplifting and very helpful.


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