Myra Schneider is the author of ten collections of poetry. The most recent is Circling The Core (Enitharmon 2008) Other recent collections are Insisting on Yellow New and Selected Poems (Enitharmon 2000) and Multiplying The Moon (Enitharmon 2004). Her book-length narrative poem, Becoming, was published by Second Light Publications in 2007. She is widely published in journals and anthologies and was shortlisted for a Forward Prize. Her prose publications include novels for children and teenagers, Writing My Way Through Cancer, a fleshed-out journal with poems and writing ideas. (Jessica Kingsley 2003). She is very interested in the writing process and Writing for Self-Discovery, which she wrote with John Killick was published by Element in 1997. She currently at work with him on Writing Your Self (due from Continuum International in December 2009). Myra has co-edited four anthologies of poetry by contemporary women poets, most recently Images of Women (Arrowhead Press 2006). She is a widely experienced writing tutor and works for The Poetry School in London. She is consultant to the Second Light Network of Women Poets and edited the poetry for the first issue of ARTEMISpoetry, a new journal of reviews, essays and poems by women poets.
LETTER FROM BIRSAY
Because you’ve never stood on this beach,
never breathed in this sea, I’ll describe the sheet
after sheet of rock compressed into tilted layers,
the stones, bleached orange and ice blue,
lying in heaps and straggles, the ribboning sand,
the causeway leading to the island’s green mound.
Because you will not visit this shore, because
you wouldn’t see what I do if you did, I want you
to know how the smell of lime weed and salt
jumps me to a beach where water seeped into
our soft castles as we scrambled over rocks, knelt
to capture sleeping crabs and squirming eels.
Although this place, trekked by pilgrims who come
to climb to the island’s church and look at outlines
of Viking houses, is miles to the north of the one
we shared, although we’ve lived decades in terrains
so apart no path could link them, on this beach
I half believe the one from long ago is in reach.
Although you misread, misunderstand me – neither
of us is in tune with the other’s language – I am writing
to tell you how the sea scoops shells as it sweeps
over sand, wipes out the causeway, drowns rocks
and how, in spite of the dividing water, the island
is stitched to this shore fast as finger to hand.