December 


relax, walk, watch the sun set 

It’s that time of year – two more weeks of work – then the summer holiday. This is the time of year when I have time to slow down, and reflect. It’s the time of year when I used to explore new ideas, try out new pursuits. 

What I’m proudest of this year is that I’ve made time, taken time, for personal interests throughout the year – specially the latter half of this year. I’ve started drawing and learning to paint. I’ve noticed that as I shift into this visual world my writing has gracefully taken a back seat – but I’m sure it’s going to surface again soon. 

What I’d love for next year is to find a way to combine paintings and text into artworks that balance both sides of my soul. 

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

the cloak of shadows

a cloak is suspended
from a high ceiling
just inside the entrance
of a dimly-lit room

I cross the threshold
this cloak of chains
is dark and hard
and I swear the air turns cold

I read a date – 1860
the past confronts me
the pain is palpable
and I am silenced

shadows move between the links
invisible hands raised
to hold me at a distance
I’m barely breathing

there are voices
in the shadows
I move aside
and they begin to speak

 

© Claire Griffin 2016

image and information: http://www.pataka.org.nz/ngahina-hohaia/

Te Kahu o te Karauna – This is why I won’t stand for the national anthem”
a metal chain korowai (cloak) sculpture by Ngahina Hohaia,
from the exhibition “Tools of Oppression and Liberation”.
This piece refers to the oppression of the peaceful settlement at Parihaka.