Circumscribed: The Poem

I write you running, first.
I sit at a small table, in a one-room cottage
alone, waiting.

But you – you are running.
Running at full sprint; away.
Beneath you is a gravel road.
Beside you is a beech forest, and a river
Ahead of you is the lake.

You run for it.

I am at the table.
I look at my hands.
Small delicate, ladies hands, I suppose.
Designed for embroidery and poems.
Not this rough cottage and it’s dirty pails.

There is an ink stain on my right hand.

I say “Der Zeigefinger.”

You are running the radii,
Aspiring for the circumference.
This edge of our existence,
the magic circle of our biography.
You are always running away from me.

I say “Am Anfang war die Tat.”
[In the Beginning was the Act.]

Singularity [Gold and Ink on Paper, 2016, G.Barnes]


Events happen to you. Drama! It is yours.
Not mine. I just watch you, from this table.

And then there’s her. That terrible demi-god.
Inscribing us both. Defining our 360.
You cannot escape her clumsy manoeuvrings
– but I will not let her move me.

I will remain. Seated at this table.

Knock! Knock! Knock!
I say “Enter”
Three full fat bodies fill the door frame.
Framed by my eye. The frame of this film.
The three of them, who demand toll.

Those three detainers.

Tri [Walnut Ink on Paper, 2016, G.Barnes]
A shiny button, a silver medal, a yellow ribbon.
Big fat hands clasp pieces of parchment.
Dirty boots. A muddy print on my clean hearth.
The fire smokes, splutters in small protest.

I say “With what mandate have you come”
They wave their piece of paper. Inscribed with royal insignia.
“War Regulations. Enemy Aliens.
Detained at the discretion of the Minister of Defence.”

They say things that I don’t [won’t] hear properly.
“Close your business… report to the police station for registration … 20 miles ….”
“no communication with enemy country.”

“Enemy Alien.”

Enemy Alien
I am an Enemy Alien [Gold and Ink on Paper, 2016, G.Barnes]

I just say

You are running.

I take a map. And a compass.
I draw an X. This is where I am.
I draw a circumference. 20 miles from X.

This is where Others, have allowed Us to be.
The extent of our [current] existence.

There is the edge, just ahead. In the fog.
The circle on the map.
Darkness, darker fog, outside of this.

Try not to forget. Try to remember me.

So, let us concern ourselves with the boundary

We are now spread out to the very edge,
it is our complete.

You stand on the edge, your toes curled over the rim.
it is a deep dark endless cavern, you think.

it is separating –

but it is strengthening –

it supplies the form of me [the mater/matter]
it lets you see me more clearly [the pater/pattern]

Descent  [Gold and Ink on Paper, 2016, G.Barnes]

Cross the desolate.
The flattened ruin littered with debris,
shipwrecks, razor-wire and mud.
The same cottage, different landscape.
The lake has gone, the trees have gone, the forest disappeared.

You can see my cottage.
My window is glowing by candlelight.

And there I am, at the window.
Looking back at you.
Our eyes meet, for the first time?

To be sure, this place of crossing is frightening,
–to you.

It’s depth is great, it’s height is staggering.
Let us be of a single mind and
without hesitation, pass by, please.

Pass over the boundary.
Do not look back.

It is reflection.

I hear you knock.
You are knocking.

I will let You in.

© Gaylene Barnes, 2017

I Write you Running [Gold and Ink on Paper, 2016, G.Barnes]

Dance of Heaven and Earth


In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Spirit and Matter began separate. They asked themselves why are we not of the same substance? As heaven yearns to rest lightly on Earth, Earth yearns to rise to heaven. And within this forever yearning, valleys are pushed into the sky and mountains crushed into the sea.

We have learnt that we cannot exist without one another.


And the earth was without form, and void;
and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

I am in heaven, and I am lonely here apart from all that is real. There is no glue to bind my flailing spirit. There is no blood to race when my spirit passes over your valleys. I have no pulse, I have no cell, no soul, no eye to see or finger to touch. I pass through your substance – silently searching for somewhere to rest. I long to stop and grow, to find a place in you where I may be.


And God said, Let there be light:
and there was light.

Here am I, Oh Heaven, I am here. I can cry. I am Earth. I have tears and they weep for your loneliness. Endless rivers of sadness, leading to large pools of sweat and salt. Where are you, why can you not stop with me? I am alive, I will grow, I will find you.


And God saw the light, that it was good:
and God divided the light from the darkness.

I turn to the light, are you in the light? The swamp dries. Mud disappears. I follow the light and the worms burrow deeper inside my flesh. They turn from your light. The white light is my guide, it will lead me to you.


And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
And the evening and the morning were the first day. 

In the Day I will search for rest, and in the Night I will gently call your name. Everyday and every night, until you hear me and make a space. As my light spills across your body, you awake and groan. Heaven is upon you, rise and meet me! Let me enter!

“Mother of God of the Sign” [G.Barnes, 2013. Egg tempera and gold on board. Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Addington]
By G. Barnes (2006)