Julia Duke
Julia Duke

As a writer, I love to experiment. Over the years I have worked extensively at poetry, my first love, and at creative nonfiction, including nature writing, memoir and a recent, mixed-genre project on identity. In recent years I have developed my poetry writing more fully, exploring my interest in imagist poetry, free verse and traditional forms such as sonnets, haiku and tanka.

My writing is informed by my love of landscape and my fellow humans. Fascinated by all kinds of connections and borders, between both individuals and nations, I have lived in and been inspired by a variety of locations and their inhabitants across England, Wales and the Netherlands. I now live in Lowestoft, Suffolk, together with my husband, Douglas. I love to connect with other writers and belong to both the Waveney Poets (formerly Bungay Library group) and the Pakefield group: ‘New Words, Fresh Voices’, together with a couple of online groups from my former home in Wales.

Sweet Conversation

Strategically placed at the corner,
I await their arrival.
They will come together;
they always do.
A lifetime of friendship
has rendered them inseparable
as they process down the street,
two by two, arm in arm.

Engaged in conversation,
focused on staying upright,
they teeter on ill-advised heels,
elegant to the last.
Only Wyn stares ahead of her,
spies me waiting, peers at me.
'Is that Julie?' A cry of welcome
that takes me back: a mother's cry.

Fourteen years since last I heard it,
that spontaneous cry,
like a child's, full of joy,
never failing in warmth:
'Always pleased to see you'.
Now long gone, I remember
with pleasure being enfolded
in the circle of her love.

In the café we sit in a circle
piling sugar crystals
on mugs of foaming coffee,
taking our turn, in deep debate,
drawing warmth, finding joy
from one another's lives.
These days families live so far apart,
estranged, bereaved,

adopting where they can:
other people's mothers, 
other people's daughters.
Here we sit together,
piling words on words,
a tiny community brought together
by necessity, like need,
the mother of invention.

Copyright © 2021 Julia Duke
published in ‘Conversations’ by Dempsey & Windle, September 2021

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