In the sychronicities that keep emerging (perhaps because I am entering my seventieth year on the planet, and each year brings more connecting and coinciding), my talented writing companion and friend Sara Collie today reflected back to me the third verse of one of my poems, Unruled, which I want to share with you as my contribution to tonight’s Open Link event, hosted by Lillian of the dVerse community of poets online.

Although I didn’t publish it until 2014, I’d written it twenty years earlier at a time of turmoil in my personal and professional life. When my friend Sara was yet a child.

I’d moved house four times, and taken on four minor professional jobs, in four years, as well as grieving the death of my widowed father and the impending death of my partner’s father. Had negotiated with five schools on behalf of our son, who was unassuming and reserved and yet highly gifted academically. Had struggled with my own anxieties and inadequacies, and was battling with various mental health challenges.

No pressure then.

The poem hankers, as did I, for a chance to spend time “musing and dreaming” in a measurably unproductive way.

Much more recently, a later-life friend (but who had been at my college in the year above me, and we’d never met) described us as “underachievers”, which triggered some internalised rage in me, because she was “right”. And yet in other respects I disagreed.

If compared with our peers at Cambridge University we had not excelled within the scientific community.

Yet if success is defined in different terms, each of us has allowed the later-life flowering of creative potential (hers in painting and drawing, mine in be-Mused writing) that had been hiding during our parenting decades, and has burst out in what she calls our “bonkers old ladies” years and what I prefer to call my crone-ship.

Perhaps we are each on that elusive route to grace.


“Don’t scatter your fire” they said.
don’t rush out after too
many quarries, don’t tire, don’t
spread your goals 
like dewdrops on the faces 
of so many flowers in the mire.

So, disciplined at last, I concentrate.
but as I focus on a page,
a word, a date,
I lose the measure of the story,
the errant glory in the dewy wilderness.
Instead I gaze at chilling books of stone,
engraved with rules.
none liberate.

Oh let it be all right
to idle!
Please sanction this,
that I can chance upon the route to grace;
no, more than that – 
the space and time and need to let
the petals of a-myriad daisies
tumble down upon my upturned face.

© Kathy Labrum McVittie  All rights reserved 

 'the route to grace', Dalefield Press; Longstanton, CB24 3BP UK, page 3 of 38