Old post recycled: The Silence inside Sandstone

Whether or not it is the done thing, here is an old post from my blog ‘as was’ – sometimes it’s useful to look at older writing with fresh eyes. This one still resonates, so I’ve resurrected it.

The silence inside sandstone intrigues me. We have squeezed our way in, through a sideways split on the shore 10 or 12 feet back. It takes all of my inner-strength to persuade myself not to panic. It’s safe. It feels safe, in the sense that this cave has been here for hundreds if not thousands of years and is unlikely to change suddenly and trap us now. No loose rock, no ceiling to fall, just a narrow vertical opening large enough for a small adult to side-step through. It was likely a natural layer-break in heavily-tilted sandstone, though I don’t remember the outer landscape clearly now.

I’m relieved when we enter a wider space and can stretch out our arms a little. I look down and in the torch light I’m glittering, covered in tiny sand crystals brushed from the cave walls. Time feels different in here. It could be day, night, winter, summer; these sand grains – laid down when Scotland was part of a vast arid, mountainous landscape – were deposited in the bottom of a lake, Lake Orcadie, that extended for kilometres across what is now Morayshire and Caithness, sometimes reaching as far north as Orkney and Shetland. Covered in sand grains hundreds of millions of years old; grains that ancient fish shoals would have swum around in, hidden in, died in. And before that? How did their original crystal structures form? How far around the world had they travelled to land on my sleeve, here, now? 

The torch illuminates a dark red space before flickering and going out, and hush settles as we stop trying to examine our sensations in speech. The dark is soft, calming, all-consuming. Again, I get the feeling of extensions of time both within and around me. The only light is a glimmer at floor level, stemming from the entrance to the cave. The rock presses inwards, encasing me momentarily as though I’m to be fossilised. I wonder why I’m comforted rather than frightened by this thought.

I had been cautious outside, blue sky above and curlews calling, wondering why I would want to slip away into the rock’s interior. I was sure of claustrophobia; I could feel it taking shape around me, shadowing me even in sunshine. I didn’t really comprehend why I was now at peace, at home in the silence of sandstone.

I kneel, tilt my head to the sandy base of the cave to look out. It could be feasible that centuries have passed; I could step back out into the distant future or a past before human footfall. I forget you’re there with me and wander off in my mind, examining what these alternate future spaces might hold.

You break into my thoughts with a story of childhood, of hiding in the cave from your parents because you didn’t want to leave the bay to return home. As we move through millions of years’ worth of sand crystals to resurface into light and air, I consider doing the same. Returning to hide out, to remove myself from time entirely, to be encapsulated.   

Silk and Smoke: ‘Fusion’

I’m delighted to have a new poem, ‘Fusion’, published in Silk and Smoke issue 2: https://silkandsmoke.com/portfolio/fusion-by-larissa-reid/

Silk and Smoke is a beautiful publication, and I had them in mind when I was working on the final draft of ‘Fusion’. It’s brilliant to be a small part of a fairly new, local (Edinburgh-based) online magazine. One of my favourite elements of the publication is that they include both notes from the authors and a chosen piece of music to accompany each work. For my poem, I selected the ethereal ‘Ophelia’ by Karine Polwart (linked in the above). Karine’s gorgeous voice and stunning talent for song-writing has frequently lifted my spirits during 2020. It’s lovely to share another female Scottish voice, too!

Not yet spring

Last weekend the temperatures here in Fife dropped from 18C to 2C overnight. It snowed again in the hills, and for several days we have been shivering in blasts of arctic air flows – the last gasp of winter: the lambing snows.

The third of my poems for the #Cateran100 project is now up online: https://soundcloud.com/user-557410710/not-yet-spring-by-larissa-reid

It was written as I sat shivering in ‘my’ writing hut (a bird hide) in the Glen Tilt woods, last May.

River Tilt at the tail end of winter, flushed with snow melt, Scotland

Herringbone

The second of my #Cateran100 poems is now available to listen to online: https://soundcloud.com/user-557410710/herringbone-by-larissa-reid

This poem was first published in the autumn 2017 edition of Northwords Now, issue 34. I was honoured to have three poems appear in this particular edition, Herringbone, The Crow Road and Skye-light. All are available to read here: https://www.northwordsnow.co.uk/author/Larissa-Reid

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The Cateran100 project

Really honoured to be part of the #Cateran100 project being run by the Cateran Ecomuseum https://www.cateranecomuseum.co.uk/ during these strange times. The team at Cateran are posting daily audio recordings of poems old and new on social media, together with local photographs and history related to Perthshire, Tayside and Angus, Scotland.

The first of four of my poems appeared on their soundcloud page today – https://soundcloud.com/user-557410710/stone-tells-stone-by-larissa-reid

Do have a listen…

Shortlisted for Janet Coats Memorial Prize

I’m delighted I have recently had a poem selected for the shortlist of the Janet Coats Memorial Prize at Paisley Book Festival: https://paisleybookfest.com/prize/

The theme for 2020 is ‘Radical Voices and Rebel Stories’, with a focus on the young people who have been making their voices heard on the climate crisis over the past two years. My poem was written in response to the eeriness and sadness I felt as I watched our local woods alter over the course of a long hot summer. I was disturbed by the previous winter, where the winds blew for weeks from the East rather than the South-West – a small detail, but when the clouds blow ‘the wrong way’ across the sky for days, I find it deeply unsettling.

The result is my poem, ‘In Elegant Green’, which you can read on the Paisley Book Festival website (link above).

Twisted::Colon Anthology II

TWISTED::COLON

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It’s been a wee while since Twisted::Colon committed anything to print, but the latest collection, available to buy now, is well worth the wait.

In this collection we are transformed into other beings, we enjoy the sensuality of plums, we remember Africa, we break plates, we play hide and seek, we encounter witches, we clamber among the clouds, we are swept away by the Singularity, we potter about, we face extinction, we dance, we are seduced, we drown.

Poetry, fiction and memoir by:

Keith Foreman
Alasdair Gillon
Ivan Meyer
Larissa Reid
Justin Sales
Laura Scotland
Mark Steven

Available from 16 December 2019.

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Poetry collection: In February

TWISTED::COLON

In February, Larissa Reid, cover

“Poetry to shake senses awake with the splash of language.”

Kenny Taylor, editor Northwords Now

Last February, 2018,  I challenged myself to write a poem every day for a month. Starting on February 1st, and taking writer Robert Macfarlane’s ‘words of the day’ on Twitter as inspiration, I began to write poems, many fuelled by my love and need for the natural world, particularly at times of crisis. The result is my first small collection of poetry, In February.

I have decided to donate all profits from the sale of this book to the British Thyroid Foundation http://www.btf-thyroid.org/ in support of the valuable work that they do across the UK.

If you would like to buy a copy of the book, priced £5.99 (plus £1 P&P), please click on the link below. Copies will be posted after the book launch on January 30th 2019.

Thank you!

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