untitled – Tuesday 19 December 2017

The sky is pale and grey, not heavy, but flat and low.
The world is shallow, horizontal, with little space to breathe,
except in spaces cleared by flurries of warm wind.

Sparrows visit, fearless, curious thieves,
crumbs disappearing at the speed of flight.
A magpie swoops in, a botanic priest to correct the masses.

The roses are every colour from cream to peach, cerise to ruby,
some freshly opened, some over-blown.
Stopping at the climbing roses,
and drawing a branch close to breathe in the scent,
voices approach, a conversation full of soft “-sh-sh-“
the sounds of the breeze and these dark, blood-red blooms.

***********************************************************

The gates are open, the path reaches on ahead
and down the hill to the city.
Purposeful runners make short work of the distance.

Tourists walk past, looking straight ahead, keeping to the trail,
“you’ll see a lot of them here – this is tattoo country”
but looking down, this forearm is bare, unadorned,
the design resting in imagination,
as does the house of possible ancestors.

The outline sketched in brick, visible across the grass,
sliced in half by the path these people walk on,
oblivious to the souls that made a life here,
the commitments made,
the children born,
the woman who refused to leave
after the death of the man she loved.

***********************************************************

Children cluster on the edge of the hillside,
where the ground falls away through the trees.
They look out over the city,
people they will never meet, lives they will never live.
Names and dates and ages
carved into their homes of stone.
Angels hold the space, but offer little comfort,
wings broken, eyes blind.

***********************************************************

Isabella draws her hand from the water, and stands to leave the pond. The memory of goldfish kisses tingle across the ends of her fingers. She walks past the rose garden, and up and across the brow of the hill, until she reaches the stone door her parents had placed above her small narrow home, the home that was gone now. All she has is the door. From here she steps in and out of the world, watching until sleep calls and she slips through stone into memory, held in the sacred space of love and loss.

She watches the woman. She watches her trace the outline of the cottage with her steps, sees her break a kawakawa branch and place it on the plaque, sees her step back in silence. Sees that the woman feels the disturbance in the soil, feels the loss. And she feels the years collapse around her until they are two women standing on a hillside, two women lost in time.

As the woman turns to leave, Isabella sends a butterfly to brush past her head, and a fat bee to land on the white rose that grows wild nearby. Roses whose work is done, their centres turning brown, dropping their petals to rot untouched into the earth. All is beauty and desolation for the girl who watches, silence for the woman who listens.

*********************************************************

And as this woman turns to leave, she is deep in the silence
these hours without speaking have taken form
and wrapped around her a cloak of pale, thick air
a fog of silence become substance

And as she walks back down the hill to the car
Isabella walks behind her
bees and butterflies in her hair
and on her shoulders
and white rose petals
falling from her hands

©clairegriffin2018

Well, this has taken a long time to resolve!
From first notes made on the day (19 December 2017) until now, this very evening.
I’d tried prose, and being much more literal, then more poetic forms,
until I just stopped looking at it at all a couple of months ago.
Finally (and rather suddenly) tonight, I settled on this.

I’m interested in your impressions – what meanings you take from reading this.
I like the sense of mystery but I wonder if its too obscure. To aide understanding – this is based on notes made during an afternoon at the Wellington Botanic Gardens and the neighbouring Bolton Street Cemetery (see: https://boltoncemetery.org.nz/history/).
Any ideas for a title would be welcomed too 🙂

your body tells me

all is quiet and peaceful
the white body stretches
fluff and tufts and curls
pink underbelly revealed
sleep takes time and
a commitment to stillness
its all an illusion of calm

when awake, the furred paws reach out
desiring but sensitive to touch
pleasure quickly shifting
to irritation and reactive bite
slowly I’m learning how to connect
keep a firm pressure
just the head and scruff

when awake, the stomach leads, curiosity follows
with long, late night explorations
returning early morning
tousled, leaves hitch-hiking in the fur
strolling in like some careless wanderer
fresh from gallivanting about the neighbourhood
an opportunist, a pathfinder, a rapscallion

you have a history that I’ll never know
for now all that matters is that I am patient
and learn to understand your unique nature
there is an energy around you that I’m trying to read
and if I sit still and watch
your body tells me everything I need

fire walks on snow

IMG_7935

©clairegriffin2017

(Prisma app used with original photo of the newbie)

a Tui in the rain


your black body lands on the green

sunlight strikes
and you flash emerald, turquoise and bronze
white-ruffed like an Elizabethan prince
outrageous elegance in this suburban garden

you pluck a purple berry from the Māhoe tree

I imagine …
you keep a ball of soot and sap tucked under your wing
and on rainy days like these you bring it out
spit berry juice over it and knead it into paste with one clawed foot
ready to make your mark

if I held my hand still
would you slip your beak into my skin
and ink your name, engrave a permanence
a sign of allegiance for the nights when you are hidden in the trees

I imagine …
writing a sonnet to your dark beauty
while I compose, you shriek and chortle
you fill your belly with violet pearls
your white bib staining amethyst
before taking wing to sing oblivious in the secret wood

©clairegriffin2017

quiet rain

in the still morning
quiet rain works its way
down through the branches
one drop embracing another
until heavy enough
to slide off edges and drop from buds
to fall to the green beds below
shaking leaves awake

the bush comes alive
as each small union of sky-tears
leap toward the earth

 

©clairegriffin2017

seedling messages

IMG_7344

If this be the secret runic alphabet of plants – what message does this seedling tell …?

Off and on today, I’ve found myself fascinated by shadows and reflections.

Today is a day of sun and wind and I’m staying inside to play with the light, and to read about the dark places. I’m choosing where to sit carefully – I need the light and warmth. I don’t want my thoughts to be swept away in the cool spring wind, so I’m keeping windows closed.

I saw the shadows cast by this tiny seedling, and I started wondering about runes and secret alphabets and the messages we might discover.

Next step – to consult my book of runes.

Some of the shapes look similar to:

runes

 

gebo – partnership, a gift
• union, partnership – but remember to retain separateness in unity
• the interplay between the conscious and the unconscious (very pertinent since I’ve just started reading about myth and psychology and Jungian archetypes)
a gift of freedom from which other gifts flow

uruz – strength, manhood, womanhood, a wild ox
• termination and new beginnings, life energy released in a new birth
• positive growth and change – may involve passage into darkness, opportunity disguised as loss
• the wild ox carried heavy loads – learn to adapt to the demands of a creative time – humility is called for – learn how to serve

nauthiz – constraint, necessity, pain
• dealing with severe constraint – including the limitations we cause ourselves
• identifying our ‘shadow’ areas (there’s Jung again), including the weaknesses we project onto others – the message being to work with the shadow – recognise challenges as opportunities
• restraint is required – reconsider plans – restore balance – take time to put right the relationship with the self

algiz – protection, sedge or rushes, an elk
• transition, time of new opportunities and challenges – the message being to control emotions during this time
• the protection of the warrior is like the rustle of grass, the horns of the elk – keeping space open
• be mindful, observe, don’t try to escape life through denial

(“The Book of Runes” by Ralph Blum, 1985)

So – what messages were the seedlings giving me?

This is a time of beginnings and opportunities, but not without challenge. Explore your inner and outer self, the conscious and unconscious. Be honest about what you’re experiencing, and be prepared to face the challenges without denial, accept success with humility.

Who knew tiny seedlings could know so much?

©clairegriffin2017

 

 

finding peacefulness

Some days I get home and my head is spinning with people I’ve met, notes I need to write up, extra unexpected tasks suddenly announced – things to do – things to do – and never enough time. 

Today was one of those days – and I could feel anger rising in response to feeling overwhelmed – that’s a good thing for me – I used to just get lost in the overwhelming. 

But anger is not something I like to feel – so – I took my camera and walked outside into my overgrown garden – trusting there will always be something there to help me calm and quietly breathe. 

This beauty looked up at me – pale and peaceful in the twilight. 

Is there really anything to worry about – nothing that won’t wait til tomorrow – for now – I will lose myself in amongst the petals and dream. 


©clairegriffin2017