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5 years ago…

In Healing Words, Loss, Grief and Hope, Travel on August 18

Fabric at City Lights

I was pinning the poem ‘Fabric’ by the poet and artist, Tim Cumming, on to a board at City Lights bookshop in San Francisco trying to not look suspicious (why on earth I was sweating I don’t know – this was City Lights – poetry pinning allowed). I’d promised Tim on leaving the UK that I would cast his words across San Francisco and in to City Lights “A Literary Meeting place since 1953”, the melting pot for beatniks and anti-authoritarian voices in the 1950’s. Back in the day, if Tim had existed in this bit of time and space I’m sure he would have been here.

It was a MOMENT. I could hardly believe I was in THIS bookshop. This topped the other moment a few hours before, speaking Fabric out loud in to the winds atop the Golden Gate Bridge, repeating it like a mantra of mystical brown draylon and wishing for the spirit of the winds to take it around the world so others could breathe in the wonder.

Fabric birther earlier that same year ~ 2011, having been introduced by a mutual friend Jane, to Tim on a windy rooftop bar in Essaouria, Morocco ~ overlooking the Atlantic. At that moment in time,  Jane was rescuing me from a fraught travel story (gratitude still abounds) and we were high on hair flinging, Gnawa singing. We ate chicken and drank wine, distant chants floating by and I started talking about my Dad, his brown draylon sofa and the thousands of prayers that had been said upon it by him as the sun rose every morning.

By the time I inherited the 25 year old sofa, the prayers and mantras Dad had uttered over the years had firmly woven themselves into it’s flowery material and the sofa had a palpable energy of it’s own. Insomniac friends used to have the best night’s sleep on the Sacred Sofa as it became known (or the Magic Sofa or Mystic Sofa…). I spent two weeks on it with swine flu and recovered completely. Moments of emotional turmoil were soothed by a few hours curled up on it, wrapped in a blanket, letting the brown draylon soak up tears and allowing evaporation in to the ethers to do the rest. The sofa had become a living legend. Dad laughed when I told him of it’s healing powers and not surprisingly, believed every word.

Fabric poem by Tim Cumming

So did Tim and Jane. Weeks later, Fabric arrived in my inbox and this time I was whisked up in to a whirl of excitement and enchantment by the Sacred Sofa being so beautifully spun in to it’s own prayerful poem by Tim, and capturing a vivid moment of conviviality and connection. I read it over and over and over. It became my mantra of Summer 2011. To receive such a poem was a precious gift beyond words in a year that had rocketed in to unexpected flux, my internal earth shaking and my hair now falling out instead of being flung about. I felt deeply heard and listened to in the words of that poem. Folded in to my notebook, off it went on it’s transatlantic journey.


Last night I lit a rose incense stick, the same as Dad used to burn in the mornings, his favourite incense. I have just a few of these sticks left, using them sparingly for precious moments. I lit a little candle and placed it by a photo of Dad, lighting his smile up more than usual. It’s hard to be sad looking at his happy face. I received a text from my sister, she felt a brush on her arm this morning just before she was about to clean her teeth, ‘I think it was Dad’. I checked my emails and a blogger who I’d never met before had sent me a lovely note about how she’d read about my Dad and felt moved to write to me, sharing her story of loss and grief, and how things do get better over time. I sinked in to my grey sofa, a sofa also prayed upon and blessed by Dad. Six months to the hour that Dad had passed. 6 months that have flown by yet it still feels like yesterday that I held Dad’s hand.

Dal's eyes

5 years ago, when the tilt of my world shifted I had no idea what lay ahead. I’m glad I didn’t. But when I look back in to the eyes of the SHE that was ME I can see it now. Fire, determination, resilience, strength and a knowing. That one day I would be here, resting on a new threshold. On a newer sofa. Every moment of the last 5 years spun in to the fabric of now. Maybe Fabric is still flying with the winds, brushing the air with magic and touching souls.


Tim Cumming ~ a London poet, writer and artist. Seriously good.

City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco – epic place. Visit if you’re anywhere nearby.

And what of the brown draylon sofa? Remnants of it still exist as the poem eludes to. The rest is another story…

(this post was inspired by Susannah Conway’s #augustbreak2016 prompt ‘5 years ago’ over on Insta)

6 comments... (add a comment)

  1. Oh, my Dal. THIS is brilliant writing, from the soul, filled with truth and wisdom. Carry on, sister. Carry on, daughter!
    “But when I look back in to the eyes of the SHE that was ME I can see it now. Fire, determination, resilience, strength and a knowing.”

    • Dal

      Wow, thanks Anne for your comments and encouragement!! Means a lot to me and I must hop over to your blog for a big catch up! xo

  2. Your own writing is the true poem! You have a lovely way with words.

  3. I’m not sure I understand. Why didn’t Tim post his own poem in SF? and was it meaningful for him for you to do so?

    … I also want to know what happened to the sofa! 🙂

    Beautiful writing. Definitely had me caring about a poem I had never read and a sofa I had never seen more than I’ve cared about a lot of things I’ve read and seen in the past. I wonder if the poem you posted is still on the wall today?

    • Dal

      Thanks so much Mandy for your kind words and questions : )) Really glad you enjoyed the poem. Tim lives in London so it’s a long way to fly to pin a poem on a board despite it being an infamous literary haunt! It was just one of those things, he wrote the poem, I loved it and mentioned I was off to SF and would visit City Lights, where he said he’d love to visit one day so I said I’d take his poem there as a kind of totem! It would be so fab if it was still somewhere out there! xo

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