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Spoils               A Necessary Distance

         Ghazal           ‘And We in Dreams behold the Hebrides’




My mother's ivory comb — such things are rare

has yellow teeth which will not bend or break.

They're widely-spaced, a kind of mini-rake

to tame her heavy, bracken-coloured hair.


I've never seen red squirrels in the wild.

My mother's coat, so soft, was made of them.

The slippery satin lining soothed me then.

I nestled in it often as a child.


I have a wooden tray among the things

my aunt brought from Brazil.  You can still see,

set in a frame of coloured marquetry,

the ghost of brilliant, iridescent wings.



Joan Sheridan Smith

first published in The Interpreter's House, 2005




A Necessary Distance


Love needs some room to grow,

a little distance to appreciate

our separate selves.  To fuse is to negate

what makes us human.  You will never know


all of me, though the years

with all their shared exchange, link us together.

An absence for a time will never wear

the face of fear, and closeness need not tether


the soul's ability to flower

in wholly unanticipated ways.

For steadfast love has this intrinsic power

to welcome changes as a sign of grace.


Joan Sheridan Smith

first published in Acumen, 2002







Spirit that raises the gale on the moor,

what is your name?


that sifts drifted snow through the hinge of the door,

what is your name?


that furls the white breakers over the shore,

what is your name?


that flies overhead the red banners of war,

what is your name?


that sighs in the forest as if to explore,

what is your name?


that lights sudden flame that explodes with a roar,

what is your name?


that pushes the clouds from behind and before,

what is your name?


that breathes in the life of the heart, in its core,

what is your name?



Joan Sheridan Smith

published in collection, Shall We Dance?

2008, Poetry Monthly Press





‘And We in Dreams behold the Hebrides’


Sometimes a line vibrates like a plucked string.

In this I hear the sighing of the seas,

the pibroch's thin

lament, the autumn wind among the trees,

the yearning of the exiled for their home.


It isn't just the plight of refugees

bereft their land, their longing to return

that moves me.  Deep within the human heart

there lives the sorrow of a vanished past,

imagined Edens lost.



Joan Sheridan Smith

first published in Iota, 2001


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