This week’s theme is A Portable Paradise, inspired by a poem by Roger Robinson. We wanted to express our support for the Black Lives Matter movement and Robinson has been important in raising visibility of black and ethnic minority writers, through his own success but also through vocal support for other writers.
But, it also seemed to me that this poem would resonate with many Hebrideans. A Portable Paradise is about the comforting and sustaining memory of an island – in Robinson’s case Trinidad – but when he talks about the fresh fish and white beaches he might bring to mind our colder, more northerly islands that are held in the hearts of so many exiles. So our theme this week is “Portable paradise: the memory of something, somewhere or someone that sustains us through the tough times.”
then I’m speaking of my grandmother
who told me to carry it always
on my person, concealed, so
no one else would know but me.
That way they can’t steal it, she’d say.
And if life puts you under pressure,
trace its ridges in your pocket,
smell its piney scent on your handkerchief,
hum its anthem under your breath.
And if your stresses are sustained and daily,
get yourself to an empty room – be it hotel,
hostel or hovel – find a lamp
and empty your paradise onto a desk:
your white sands, green hills and fresh fish.
Shine the lamp on it like the fresh hope
of morning, and keep staring at it till you sleep