there is an old fig tree
at the back of the family garden
and at the end of a long hot summer
it is dripping with fruit

we picked figs today
ripe and soft
some we broke open
and ate
some fell to the ground
and burst

with sticky hands
we filled a bag in minutes
plenty left for the birds

we drank tea and talked
catching up on recent weeks
sharing stories, laughing
supporting each other’s dreams
without question

it took an hour and a half to drive home
and by then
the sky had clouded

I take time opening the bag
and arranging the figs
each one a precious harvest

I break one open

and sunlight fills the kitchen

© Claire Griffin 2016

discovering who I am

Version 3

I’ve recently seen a photo of me
at about age three
climbing onto the verandah railing
and leaning out
leaning forward
bare feet, toes clinging on

I stand on the edge now
the edge of memory and time and history and loss
seeing my past self
a little girl who was funny
who was adventurous
and loving
and curious
and smiling
and brave

that little girl
looking into the future
full of hope, full of happiness
when I first saw her
I was astounded
I didn’t know that’s who I had been

and now
when I look in her eyes
I recognise myself
its taken a long time
I discover who I am


© Claire Griffin 2016

you find me

You find me
and I am completed.
I had not known
I was lost.
A space,
I did not know was empty,
has been filled.

It was hard to find balance …
The instant recognition,
when I saw you pass the window – I knew you.

But the present now disrupted accepted history.
Emotions surged.
Truths were challenged.
I had to reinvent my entire sense of self.

And yet I knew you –
and it was easiest thing
to be claimed by you
and to name you as mine.

I wonder sometimes
who I would be now
if I had known you sooner…

But it is enough
to know you now
and be loved.

© Claire Griffin 2016

(a poem written for my father and given to him a couple of years ago… with much love)

milk strawberry

IMG_4047 (1)







pink and brown
and sweet

a gift from a friend
“celebrate memories” you say
and I do now

I remember the sweetness of first love
I remember the pink blush
of embarrassment, of excitement
of tongues and lips and other bits
I remember the warm brown skin
from lying together in the sun
the brown of the wooden walls
brown hair falls forward
brown tiger’s eye falls forward

and milk
straight from the glass bottle
passed from hand to hand
white and cold and wet
all we ever needed to recover

© Claire Griffin 2016

(With thanks for thinking of me and for your friendship – you know who you are )


Friends are to be treasured. They have chosen to be with us. They know our secrets, our stories, our dreams and disappointments. They have this personal knowledge of us, and they do little with it except to simply hold it, to help us hold it. We hold each others stories, our histories.

In sharing ourselves with another we are not spread thin, we become deeper, more complex. Other eyes and other minds help create us in their own thoughts and in ours – an act of co-creation. We are reflected in their eyes, our existence is affirmed.

They know enough to anticipate when we might need support, or to be there when we call. They hold us when we cry, they challenge us to be brave. We laugh, we dance, we cry, we talk. We celebrate each other.

Through our friends we exist in time and space that is more than our own singular experience. We are richer because of them, and when we are no longer here, we live on within them.



© Claire Griffin 2016


In relation to the previous poem “black diving”:

For anyone who does not know – and there may be many of you outside New Zealand – a tui is a bird about the size of a pigeon. On the day of this poem, from a short distance, the tui I saw stood out black against the mist.

But their beautiful dark glossy plumage, shines in the right light with the colours of a paua shell, greens, blues, and purple. White tufts at the throat, and white wisps around the neck.

They live in the bush reserve near my house, swooping and diving among the trees. They call invisibly among the branches, warbling and squawking and trilling.

Some have learnt to imitate sounds they hear in their environment, and can make calls like phones ringing, or kettles whistling, and occasionally even people.

IMG_0980 copy© Claire Griffin 2016

black diving

hills disappear
mist swifts down
past houses
a moving whitewash
flattening colour
wind made visible
thickening, deepening
cloud come low to ground
all is white – the hill is memory now
near my window – trees still present – green intense against the white
tui settles on tree fern branch – holds on determined in the wind
head turns
attention shifts
beak leads
wings follow

(not a cento – all me – © Claire Griffin 2016)

last night (cento)

last night the world was black
when things get too hard to bear
no reason now to write songs down

no one to tell this to
a friend who never came

you’ll be home, back in our bay
delicate and warm

the black shag splinters the night


With thanks to Robert Okaji for the inspiration – a cento is a poem made from the lines of other poets.
To create this I chose significant dates eg: birthdays, ages, house numbers – and then used these to locate pages and lines, accepting, rejecting and rearranging as the story began to tell itself.
These lines are drawn from the work of Sam Hunt “Knucklebones: poems 1962-2012”.


Regret is such a difficult thing.

Its been nearly two years since I was rocked by the death of a dear friend, a significant person in my life. It would be their birthday tomorrow.

We hadn’t been in touch for a number of years, but I’d always felt the sense of connection, and even more, the growing need to thank them for the time they’d spent with me. The discovery they were gone was made at exactly the same time I committed to contacting them again. I’d been writing to them at the time. I had missed them by just a month or two.

The shock was intense. I spiraled into a strange emotional place, struggling to process the memories and emotions that suddenly surfaced. I could not believe how raw my emotions felt, and how conflicted.

Grief is bad enough, but my feelings were magnified by regret. Regret that over the years I’d had opportunities to make contact and not taken them, had reason and not acted upon it, had been held back by misplaced pride, or fear of rejection.

Talking this through with two trusted friends helped me to gain some perspective, and I wrote, and wrote, discovering imagery and metaphor that helped me to gain insight into my feelings and into the events of the past.

Coping with all this was difficult. I had no option but to sit with this regret, I couldn’t deny its presence, I couldn’t make it go away. I had to simply sit with it, side by side, and then gradually take it inside me, to accept it as mine.

But regret was in no hurry, it sat heavily for at least a year. The difficulty lay in adjusting to the reality that there was no way to reconnect, no way to tell someone how I felt. They were gone and nothing would change that. It took a long time to accept that reality, to stop beating myself up for not acting sooner. But gradually the pain eased, writing helped.

I think there are some things that just take our brains a long time to adjust to. Memories that no longer fit with the present. Desires that have no way to be fulfilled. Neural pathways need to be reviewed, and rewired. It’s a process that happens slowly and I have been changed by it.

I learnt that regret can teach us about acceptance – accepting that I made the best decisions I could at the time – and though I may regret those decisions now, I can’t change them. My only choice was to accept – staying with the pain of regret would be unbearable, There would be no future in staying in that place. So I guess acceptance is also about surrender. Surrendering to the truth that there are some things that can’t be changed, and looking for the most positive path forward.

This process did help me to engage more fully with the things that mean the most to me. I finally had a concrete example of why we shouldn’t put things off – there may not be a future time in which to do them. Hence, my renewed commitment to writing which has led to my being present in this alternate universe.