summer prayer

out of time / out of place

drenched in sun
heat soaks into skin
warms the blood, reaches bone
flesh swells, hair bleaches

this is no drying, endangering fire
this is lifeforce
entering, awakening

days of sun repeat

beginning to trust
each night will turn to light and heat
blue sky endless
breeze just enough to cool the skin

fat bees fly past, heavy with pollen
cicadas call, birds call
sheep call and answer

the wind finds voice
whispering through tall, pale gum trees

my silence and life’s song
under the summer sun

out of time / out of place

tuning in to nature
ready to respond
ready to become
let the wind move
through me
find your voice
in me

I am open
to the world’s will
and every bug and bird
and bud and tree
and river, rock, and mountain
move in me.

©clairegriffin2017

This was written just after xmas when staying at an old farmhouse for a few days over the summer in 2011. I had been lying out in the sun, reading a book on journaling, in that state when you’re searching for something but you don’t know what it is. I was looking outside myself – I hadn’t yet learnt to look within – but I was getting closer…

This is one of those poems that came very quickly – all except one word. I was stuck on the word that needed to sit after ‘rock’. I puzzled over this off and on – then left it for ages. Its interesting that its now (after settling on Rimutaka for my mihi just a couple of weeks ago – see the previous poem “the heart of this hill”) that mountain seems to fit perfectly. 

Either just before or after I wrote this, I went for a walk along the dusty gravel road – and as I walked round the bend that led slightly uphill – I had a sense of, a desire for, everything to be white. Almost the sense of wedding the land – sinking into, and becoming one with, the land around me. I remember thinking that if the sun was to vapourise me in that very moment – I would be content.

27 December 2011 – completed 16 September 2017.

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

torn apart

12.02am was a lesson in humility
who am I
to think the earth
could feel my pain
and make the heavens
weep with me

she is not a reflection of my emotions
she is her own sovereign being
and last night she tore herself apart

there is a fury
she has held in check
grief she has suppressed
pain she has denied

last night
all was unleashed
pent up energy released
her heart broken open
and spread before us

there is a madness in her rage
she rends her clothes
and tears her hair
she breaks her own body
and lays it at our feet
she has become a distorted, twisted thing

my beautiful country
you have torn yourself apart
what are you telling me?

we may be homeless
she is broken
we may be confused
she is broken
we may be distraught
she is broken

it may be her only way
to shake free from us

my beautiful country
you have torn yourself apart
what are you telling me?

she has called on her power
the wild pulse of life
to tear open her own skin
to bleed rivers enough
to flood the land
and lay bare the truth

she is not gentle
she is not kind
she is a wild thing
who tolerates us

she is more Lillith than Eve
she is Papatuanuku grieving still for Rangi
she is Persephone rising after slaughtering Hades
she is Mis raging in the wilderness

she is telling us
she owns her body
she owns her pain
and she can cast us off
in a heartbeat

©Claire Griffin 2016

And then came this… just when I was in the heady space of imagining the significance of a rare astronomical event… On 14 November a 7.8 earthquake hit.

I had to face my sentimental wishful thinking, my need to personify the earth as a beneficent mother. She is not a reflection of my emotions. She is her own sovereign being, and this morning she tore herself apart.

The previous poem was put on hold, and this seemed so much more appropriate.

broken glass

 

today was a stormy day of the heart
needing to move, to put distance
between my heart, my soul
and my daily life

standing on the rocky edge
looking out to sea
watching the waves coming
inexorably into shore

rock pools beckoned and I walked further out
looking through still water with a surface like glass
starfish and sea lettuce, neptune’s necklace and limpets
patiently waiting for the incoming tide

but the calm waters didn’t match
the turmoil I felt
the waves of emotions
needed something stronger

when sudden unexpected rain
struck intensely from behind
choosing not to run, I was drenched in seconds
standing still, with one hand holding back my hair

I stood and watched
as heavy rain broke the surface
all life beneath now an impressionist’s dream
then, just as quickly, rain stops and ripples spread and settle

when the liquid glass shattered
I drank the fragments
they cut through anger to release the tension
touching the wet rocks, I am centred in this turbulent landscape

I am the rain, the rocks, the fragile sea-life
I am the squally wind
heart-settled, soul-free

I watch the sea birds
ride the updrafts
and wish I had wings

©Claire Griffin 2016

Reading Tyler’s poem “Drop by drop” and discovering the lines
“All my worries fall away, I am a storm cloud”.
They seemed to express perfectly how I was feeling today.
Entering the landscape always helps me recover equilibrium,
but it took becoming part of the storm for it to work today.
The land reflected my feelings back to me,
and then I was able to release them.
Thanks for the inspiration Tyler 🙂
https://tylerpedersen02.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/drop-by-drop/

 

the green inside

there is a place that lives inside me
a space between trees
low hanging branches
overgrown grass
glimpses of sky
cool, damp and quiet
the sound of a stream nearby

the grass is deep, vital green
and when I lie down
it surrounds me
and I see nothing
but clouds shifting
liquid jade between

I am invisible to all
except birds who watch
from high behind the leaves
beetles climb the grass stems
a bee lands on my hand

surrounded on three sides by trees
the fourth side opening into the light
I remember the sadness of leaving

walking out into the sun
the loss of place

revisiting is bittersweet

© Claire Griffin 2016

beach memories

I recognise the mindful way
each foot is placed
stepping over
walking around
careful as she walks
the sandhill path to the beach

I feel the rhythm
the slow quiet pressure and release
as each foot falls and lifts

hands brush through
grasses that grow tall
along the edge of the path
marram grass and lupin
toetoe* and spinifex
each stroke a caress
a hand in a lover’s hair

I reach forward into her touch
and bend away
eager and shy
trusting

the rhythm changes
feet run over sand
land heavily after jumping
over driftwood and seaweed flotsam
until the sea is reached

then all weight is lifted
as she floats and drifts
and still, there is a sense of her
as waves bring her back in
to scuff feet against the sand
and I wash over, tasting her skin

when she leaves
my salt kisses
drying in her hair
wind and sea
smooth her footsteps from the beach

and I hold the shape of her
the weight of her
memory embedded
encoded in roots
lying deep below the surface
waiting

© Claire Griffin 2016

*toetoe = tussock grass (pronounce as “toi toi”)

darkness

there is a darkness gathering
beyond the hills
below the trees
behind my eyes

I hear the shadows calling
the night birds
the dark stars

all the oldest elementals
stand together

this is our last chance
to bend
or else be broken

© Claire Griffin 2016

 

This was written a month ago, late at night, just before sleep. I’d been feeling low – and at first I thought the “darkness” referred to that. But as I wrote, I realised I was thinking of the environment, and imagining/sensing a mythic awakening of primal forces standing just out of sight.

I think there’s a connection to “winter wind – green gods” written a month earlier. Perhaps that imagining had naively called something forth, and they did not step back but were still standing with me in my subconscious.

That low, dark feeling stayed with me until the last couple of weeks. I’ve been reading about archetypes, hero journeys and the “shadow” (Jung) – and I’m wondering if the darkness I felt can be explained by some of this. I’ll keep reading. And while I’ve called this poem “darkness” – and I was sensing a warning while I wrote it, as if we were all being put on notice – somehow now I feel hopeful. (It was just after writing all this that I discovered a movement called “TreeSisters” and their initiative to plant a million trees https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcDKjS5gIbM – I think this helped.)

Anyway, this dark mood has lifted now – that might be due to spring’s arrival, blossoms and light and birds circling the house. 6 October 2016)