We’re featuring three poems by Pippa Hennessy, Project Director for the Nottingham City of Literature campaign and director of the Nottingham Writers’ Studio.


In Old Light Cottage

A threadbare armchair enfolds me

the flue howls back at the gale

that portrait of Wellington gazes

out of the window at the lighthouse.

Handwritten scrawls fill the log book

not mine, not yet.

June 28th 2000

Saw a puffin. No time to write.

Boat leaving soon. Sad to go.

August 13th 2000

Another lovely stay. Did lots

of walking.

Then twenty-three and a half pages

in one hand.

October 23rd 2000

…The electricity went off at 12:23

tonight. I had to get up to go to the loo

at 2:14. The flue kept me awake for 3 hours

and 47 minutes altogether…

That October, when he wrote that,

we were here for six days

and another

because of the storms.

Slipping and sliding

down the Clovelly cobbles, our pink labels

matched his.

Hello. We’ll be neighbours

he said, standing too close.

I turned away to laugh with my friends.

We drank and tied our tongues in knots

in the lighthouse, for six days

and another.

The girls won all the games

and I fell in love

with this peat-topped block

of granite, glued by the Gulf Stream

to the Atlantic’s edge.

We celebrated the extra day,

he complained

his train ticket would expire.

Now I know too much of what he did,

when the flue screamed.

He didn’t write that he asked me for

a safety pin

to hold his trousers up

so he could get to North Light

on schedule.

He didn’t write

that our singing woke him up

when the boat was cancelled.

His review of the garlic bread

served in the tavern

was detailed

and informative. He didn’t mention

that we sat at the long table

playing bridge

loudly while he ate, alone.

He wrote:

7:58am, I washed up.

8:13am, I took the rubbish

out to the bins.

He didn’t see

the oystercatchers digging for worms

just behind the cemetery wall

or the gravestones

of medieval chieftains standing

where they had stood for centuries.

He didn’t hear

the seals singing as they rode the storm.

He didn’t feel

the spindrift skidding like rabbits

across the heather.

A threadbare armchair enfolds me

the flue howls back at the gale

and I write

18th April 2002

I am here.


Author Bio:

Pippa Hennessy has published poetry, short fiction, graphic short stories and  creative non-fiction in various magazines and anthologies. She is Development Director at Nottingham Writers’ Studio, Project Director for Nottingham’s UNESCO City of Literature bid, and works for Five Leaves Publications. In a past life she was a software developer, but she’s feeling much better now.