The Hide --by Angela France, Nine Arches Press. 2011
I have been meaning to read this book for a long time --its been on a special shelf containing books I must read. I forgot about the shelf and had to hunt the book out this morning. I expected to be attracted to the sensibility of this poet, but never dreamed of what I'd find here.
A Hide is a secret place where you can watch creatures in their habitats,be a part of their lives without disturbing them. It is also the secret places we go to protect ourselves from notice, our own camouflage, our own survival often.
'Cunning' is the word used most often in this wonderful book --the craft knowledge we share with animals, our folk and heritage of practical skills, of courage it escaping from prowlers of autocrats, our hoard of women's secrets, of men's ways of making do and mending. This was and is the strength of our ancestors, my Mother as well as my grandmothers and grandfather. What we brought to the womens' movement, the quiet intelligence that roots us and that we can take into negotiations, into leadership.
This book is full of poems about this --in lists, mainly, and lovely slant rhymes --I sat mesmerised while the English and Welsh life I come from appeared in pictures before me -- the food, the rooms, the clothes, the wisdom, the superstitions, the knowledge, the kindness, the roots we sent across the world and share with every person and creature across the world, the unifying life that is united not just with bark but the quick and pulp of trees --is at one with our natural world. Refuses to leave it nurtures and heals it.
But its also dark --dark with mischief and laughter, with the fear that will keep you alive and on your toes, and sometimes in the scapegoat's life. And magic with spiritual lift--like the poem about the 'Scapula' (shoulder blade) that ends on the wonderful line 'how they quietly hold the potential of wings'.
I loved this book -it brought back a whole world to me --a world I'd ignored until recently because of pain--my female side -- which includes both my Mother and my grandfather, with all their knowledge and wisdom and skills and talents. This closeness to the world, this intimacy and empathy with each hedgerow plant, each insect, (or in Annie Drysale's case, even insect poo) is what we'll need again to build a sustainable society and an easy-breathing world. I'm going to order Angela's other books today.