what is black?

The colour of my culture… people often question why New Zealanders have such an attachment to black. It is commonplace in our casual day wear, and highly evident in fashion design. We wear a lot of black. There was even a book written about its significance in our culture (which I confess I’ve never read – really must do so one day). Black features in our art and sports and songs, among other things.

During the recent attempt to change our flag, black was seen as an acceptable option by many.
I was listening to people discussing this whole “what is it about black…?” thing way back in 2011, and wrote my feelings in response. Hearing the same questions raised again recently prompted me to share this.

In this land of the long white cloud
we walk in the colour of storms and shadows.

We walk in black
the colour of night,
of the space between the stars,
the lines of history
we read in books
and on our faces.

We see each other
in the black centre of our eyes.

We walk in the night
with our eyes closed
burning with an inner light
black light
by which we find our way.

We choose the dark.

Ruru call in the bush
Pekapeka hear echoes in the cave
Wheke write warnings in the sea

Black is not the colour of absence,
or loss,
or separation.

We wrap ourselves in shadows
and feel secure.
The colour of night holds us together
and we are solid and strong and safe.

Black is the colour of my heart,
of my people,
of my spirit.
It runs like dark bush water through my veins.


© Claire Griffin 2016


the vibrant golden fishes
swim near like
living persimmon
marigold petals flutter
water lily friends
circling the pond
shifting in and out of view
glimpses of the sun
between the reflected stalks
your world is a liquid mirror
solid and fluid
layers of light

one bright eye surfaces
you see me and dive away
you sense me and come closer
mouth tickles on skin
we connect for a moment
then you are gone

back to your green world
where the shadows paint your sky


© Claire Griffin 2016

liquid love

throughout this long summer
the green world has held on
roots delving deeper
into the dry land

today it rained
slow, steady, gentle rain
falling quietly
caressing leaves
as it passed by
to the expectant earth

now in the after-rain
droplets rest on dry leaf-skin
balancing, waiting
until pores open
surface tension releases
they pool in hollows
to be absorbed

some slide to leaf-points
to hang like so many diamonds
re-engaging the botanical and elemental
liquid love in the silence


© Claire Griffin 2016