the key

there are rooms in this house I’ve not walked into
doors unopened, windows closed
paths that lie unchosen

I used to think
give me the key and I will fear I’m not worthy
give me the key and I will lose it
I will hide it
I will throw it away

but now – where does this fearlessness come from?

I walk down a dark hallway lined with doors
there are rooms I’ve forgotten
rooms I remember
but I don’t seek to re-enter those

its these other doors that intrigue me
doors that will open onto rooms I’ve never seen

I place one palm flat against the next door I come to
regretting that I never kept the key that once was mine
but it swings inward as soon as I touch it
and a flurry of small birds fly out
and I stand staring in bright light
at the dry golden grass beyond the open windows

I know this place
I was here once when I was young
I had forgotten it still lived within me

I step forward into a white room
white-washed wooden floor, white walls, ceiling open to the sky
as warm winds blow sheer white curtains toward me
my hair lifts in the smell of ozone and wild thyme

and here, on the table, in the centre of the room
is a carved box and a small bronze key

I recognise it
the same key I once abandoned
I mistook its purpose
this was never a key to open doors
doors that I had only ever imagined to be locked

this is a key to the future
and some strange magic has restored it to me
a whole new fertility is setting seed and ripening
mortality is making me brave

I unlock the box, and inside there are pencils and pens and bottles of ink
I shut the door behind me
and start writing on the walls

if I ever need to leave
the windows are open

 

©clairegriffin2017

the heart of this hill

I drove today
through rain and fog
over the Rimutaka Hill
to see my father

years earlier, my mother rode a train
through the heart of this hill
heading south
taking me away
from the place I was born

every time, driving back over this hill
I feel as though I am trying
to mend a wound I didn’t make

and I wonder, how many times
will I need to cross back and forth
before the edges are stitched together

but there will always be a tear in the fabric of time
I cannot weave a cloak long enough and wide enough 
to wrap around this hill

all I can do is keep coming back
keep crossing over

©clairegriffin2017

words

img_7117.jpg

hands full of words

some need to be approached slowly
picked up delicately with fingertips

others need speed and both hands
to wrap around and keep them contained

still others invite themselves
jumping up and down until chosen

some lie still, playing possum
until I look away
and then they twitch and nip
and leap to freedom

hands full of words
right now, loving best the ones that try
to slip between my fingers

©clairegriffin2017

inspired by a tweet by John Guzlowski “My poems are clumsy…”

September

look closely, notice the details

colour and shape and texture

nature designs the costumes of out lives 

September begins. I’m tired. It’s been a long cold wet winter. I need this reminder to look closely, to find the small treasures in the world around me. 

Just yesterday I saw tiny flowers that look like stars. I imagine a cloak of white stars to wrap myself in, to lift myself up out of the winter and into spring. 


©clairegriffin2017

not running now

IMG_1024in a gallery, I stop in front of a coloured pencil drawing, busy with characters and symbols, layers of images with multiple meanings

a woman looks down from the top right corner, eyes pitched at extreme angles, acutely arched brows, and I am looking into the eyes of the artist, someone I’ve never heard of before today, someone born during a thunderstorm, in the place I used to call home

and here I am, pulled back into the black heart of my old city of stone and brick and hills and harbour, and the long peninsular reaching out into the sea

for every brilliant bright-eyed day, there was fog and rain and ice and cold, that we endured more than embraced, though we would never admit to that, stubborn Celtic stock, past generations transplanted to the opposite side of the globe, myths and legends and connections disrupted

that black heart becomes embodied in song, on runway, and on page and canvas, and in clay and wood and iron and glass

the arts run deep here

and just briefly, when I was younger, I brushed up against the energy that was manifest in the people who brought that heart to the surface

I smelt the sweet tobacco and wine and the bitter beer on their breath, as they talked late into the night in dark pubs, and in small rooms with few chairs, so we’d sit together on the floor and lean against the walls, talking of art and culture and origins and ethics and sex and love and time and commitment and paint and clay and sweat and fire and music and history and myth

and we’d stand at an open window in the winter cold listening to the wind music, and I loved it, and I wanted it, but it made me feel afraid, that I had nothing to offer, or that if I stepped off the edge into this world, there would be no coming back

I had been close, close enough to recognise the attraction of this life

but I ran

from the challenge, from the question, from the choice, from my own potential,
fear is a darker master than any carved bone or midnight candle

its too late to reach back and take the hands of those who would have lifted me
I press my own two hands together and breathe slowly over the fingers, the sigh of lost years and newly found resolve

I’m not running now

my eyes are a well and they fill from an ancient spring
the past is hidden in these tears
I dip deeply into the source
and now my pen runs with memory
and light reflected from a quicksilver pool
and the rain from a dark star
and the cry of birds and the green blood
of trees who shake their heads
and shed their skins
and hold out their branches
to take me in
that I might sleep among them

and dream

©clairegriffin2017

tea and memories

I’m so grateful for the time someone spent with me this afternoon – so patient – listening to my story – suggesting – clarifying – helping me to write my mihi – and more deeply – to connect with and claim my mihi as my own.

I came home – and stopped in front of this kawakawa bush – I was thinking about it yesterday and I knew the best thing would be to make tea from its leaves and let the past settle while I waited for it to steep.

I sit now with my tongue tingling along with my heart.

footprints

(and in the meantime – imagine a photograph of bird footprints…I’m working on it)

I feel thoughts circling
words waiting to be touched
the birds waiting to land
who have always been with me
just out of sight
only approaching from the side
when I’m looking ahead
or looking back
or when I’m still
eyes closed, mind open, listening
then they come

black birds of the imagination
bones bleached white in memory
feathers full of dreams
songs and claws and tails and wings

they strut and hop across the page
leaving spiky footprints, unbound symbols
runes of divine connection

or gently, they lower one wing
to deceive, or to start over
brushing the page clean

sometimes, they are so sure of their song
they stab with their beak
straight through, and pin it to the page

all I can ever do
is trace a line from the edge of one footprint to the next
and trust in the story
they want told

©clairegriffin2017