Visit the Abbey of the Arts online retreat platform to access your programs:

Writing on the Wild Edges: Participant Poems (Vivien Ray)

This past October we led one of our Writing on the Wild Edges retreats on the beautiful island of Inismor off the coast of Galway. We will be sharing some of the writing which participants gave us permission to share here in the next few weeks. Up next are poems by Vivien Ray.

Seven Ways of Seeing a Thorn Tree

(With thanks to Wallace Stevens)

Already you have shed summer’s story of leaves

Moss binds your limbs

I watch you from seed fall, shed by a passing bird
To limb fall and decay
And yet you are willing to allow the sap to be called up
By each inspiration of Spring.

If you didn’t move in the wind’s breath,
How would I see the rhythm to sing?

This green field. That weight of rocks. The thistle and the thorn tree.

I know
and don’t know
your roots meeting highways of minerals and moisture;
Giving their gifts to warmth and light.

Oh dear!
I am falling,
falling into cycles and rhythms
I will never see the end of.
Oh dear. Oh very Dear.


Vivien Ray is a Craniosacral Therapist, a writer, a traveller and a Quaker. She lives in the Welsh Marches between England and Wales, in a cherished patch of wilderness rich in wildlife, with a dog, a cat and some horses. She chooses to explore the borderlands both within and without.

Vivien is passionate about words and the human capacity to heal. Becoming a grandmother has been a blessing in her life.

You might also enjoy

Monk in the World Guest Post: Michael Kroth

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Michael Kroth’s reflection on walking as a keystone, contemplative practice. Around the mountain Again flowers, birds, views, winds My feet hurt, heart

Read More »

3 Responses

  1. Thank you Viv for your words. I love “If you didn’t move in the wind’s breath,
    How would I see the rhythm to sing?” It makes me want to sing.
    it was a beautiful time that we had together. Blessings to you and your family… Tanya

  2. So evocative and beautifully described! Thank you, Viv! I so often think of your “jam-coloured lobster pots,” and “always the sea.” What a blessing you are! ?