“High Priestess” and Other Poems, by Leah Larwood

High Priestess

   Just to the right of the third pomegranate
                                and a little underneath it
   is a pomegranate whose flesh is coloured
                                   but whose seeds are not.

High Priestess shrouded in a sapphire cloak
                     like the half-hidden underbelly
               seated between darkness and light
                               you cast away onlookers

     with your stoic charm. Then lift the veil
                        of awareness with your Tora
             while the moon on your foot lights
                    our hidden melodies into verse.

The High Priestess tarot card represents the gatekeeper of the unconscious mind 
or else the guardian of the underworld.

Pandora’s Box

                                 On the fourth Sunday in July, just as Uranus reached its first stationary point
signalling the beginning of the year’s opposition period, Uranus commenced retrograde motion. Just a few hours later, Pema was born.

From dust bowl to mud bath, a lotus-shaped moon poured open while the mother breathed her daughter into a floodlit sea. The small thing sang a punk song to the latex hands that held her. When she was finally placed on her mother, the sound stopped, and for the first time in her life the mother felt she was enough. Despite the blushing oxytocin that comes with a new brightling, the opening of powdery coloured boxes, folding of thank yous, the standstill and spinning of clocks, the chalky rose scent of new flesh and warm lactation cookies, another box also popped opened.

Out crawled unrecognisables from the dark corners of the boiler room – dormant shadows and faces behind masks. Small creatures made from nightfall’s shame slithered up from beneath the iceberg, into her day. Yet no matter how hard she tried to put these things back, hiding them from well-wishers, midwives and the infirm, the mother just could not close the box for things kept coming for 40 months and counting. Leaving only hope for a brighter day. On some mornings she was able to close it briefly so that she could listen clearly to the cries shrinking the room.

Until one night while watching a movie reel of images on the back of her eyelids: patchy think-bits, memories, paint-run faces, between two worlds, she landed in the epicentre of dream, wide awake. She felt gratitude fill her like a warm liquid amber. Holding a peacock feather, she called forth her shadow into the space beyond and was met by a broken woman with dankness and bloodied hair. Arms outstretched – the mother embraced the mother. They sang a wordless sound in the language of dreams. It felt simple and good. Only then could the mother bear witness to the beauty of chaos and shame, as they fused into the wholeness of white night – together yet split open.

The City of Moon
For Pema
After His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Kagyu lineage.
I’ve prepared for my parting from this earth,
little Pema, by placing my love on the city
of Moon. I thought I should write with detail,
just in case you can’t find it in under the bed.
The Moon is now the keeper of all my love.
It felt like the obvious place to put it,
just as the Moon sends its light to earth
the Moon is also holding the love I have for you,
that way you can’t miss it,
and seeing the Moon can remind you of that.
I always worried I didn’t tell you enough
so I’ve asked the Moon to keep it for you,
you can ask the stars for some too,
I’ve left a supply with them as well,
the way I’d put extra tissues in your satchel.
When you look at the Moon and stars
you can be reminded of how I love you,
beyond the limitations of photographs, fabrics,
my memorial stone or mala beads.
When I am no longer in the world
you’ll find my love when you look at the Moon.
You won’t forget that will you, my Lotus?

Leah has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck University London and is a freelance writer for various UK wellbeing and health magazines. She is studying to be a Certified Poetry Therapist (CPT) with the International Federation of Biblio-Poetry Therapy (IFBPT), and a Gestalt Psychotherapist.

She has been shortlisted for the National Poetry Competition and her work has been published in various literary publications. She was placed in the Poetry Book Society Mslexia Competition 2019 and the Poetry Society Stanza Competition 2018. She lives in Norfolk, UK.

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