a wooden box in the winter sun

a small wooden box sits beside me on the table
crafted from three types of wood – plum, matai and kauri
glowing red and golden brown in the winter sun

the top fits snugly
and needs firm but gentle pressure
if I am to lift the lid

I almost never do

I cradle it in one hand, lay the other across the top
eyes closed, body memory recalling texture and movement
remembering what it was like to touch one small live warm soul

its been two years now

at first, I immersed myself in your image, walked past photos of you every day
until slowly, I moved beyond the raw pain, the sadness
I no longer reached out as if my touch could wake you

but a week ago I stopped, felt the tightness preceding tears
felt compelled to touch the frame
that has held its four wooden arms around you

and I thought – this is the time
this is the time to write of you, to write to you
my little heart, my elegant soul, my brave boy

long-legged, big-eared, golden-nosed
one wide band of black glossy hair from head to tail
proud-chested, regal, handsome tabby face

in your younger days you would go in to battle
with any who dared cross your boundaries
until the end, when you were content to watch from the window

you were nervous of people you didn’t know
it took you years to stay in the same room with strangers
until the end, when any lap was a warm haven

you loved to lie full length in the sun
you loved sleeping on the bed
until the end, when stretching and jumping was an effort

your bright eyes, pale greeny-gold
would gaze into mine, like two souls connected
until the end, when you were blinded by age

until those last three days
when, over and over again,
you were shaken by the hand of some cruel god

you fell and trembled, lost all control and woke wet and bewildered
and each time, all I could do was cry and hold you
clean you and let you bury your head in my arms

you deserved to go easy

the last thing I could do was help you avoid
the hand that sought to wrench you from my side
was to help you slip away, peaceful

and sitting there, as the vet left the room for potions of sweet sleep
you lifted your head and looked toward the sunlit window
you were seeing something . . .

 

red and golden wood now shelters you
and yesterday I lifted the lid
and touched the air above you with the tip of one finger

I felt a pulse – of my heart, of yours?

and passing your photo, I closed my eyes and kissed the frame
tears rose and fell, and it was slowly that I wiped them away

nineteen years you walked this earth
and now a small wooden box sits on the table
who would think the memories of so many years
could live within its walls

 

for Thomas, and all those who understand the connection between human and animal

©clairegriffin2017

the day begins

img_2759

surfacing from the dark
feet cold on the hard floor
black sky softening
trees a muted green
birds waking, calling, invisible

she is there, waiting
but she turns her face away

All this week, hoping to catch a glimpse of her promised glory and now, there are only moments between clouds when she shines.
Before this week, her face would have been welcomed. It was all romance and possibility and a sense of the future. Now, I can’t wait for her to leave. I am waiting, I am wanting, I am denied.

street lights fluoresce a pale orange
a row of miniature suns
marking a runway, a landing strip

see – here – here you could land
you could bring yourself to earth
and let me hold you
and let me be held

scaffolding surrounds the house
a white plastic chair glows in the half light
the stream is full with the run-off from the hills
and birds call
birds call
and the trees are moving

5.30am update / buildings are closed / people evacuated / sea life threatened / seabed raised / the weather is clearing with a forecast of morning showers / southerlies / 15 degrees

she hasn’t moved
I am waiting for her to drop
to slide behind the hills
but she is contrary, stubborn
hanging still as clouds pass by
like so many unsuccessful suitors

at least I see her
but I wanted so much more
I am disappointed
that she waits til now to show herself
all week, going about her business undercover
a beautiful anarchist
creating chaos
mad woman of the sky
you have betrayed us all

clouds glow apricot pink
and draw attention to the left
yellow eyes watch from across the room
a shadow, a black cloud
full of anticipation and patience

6.00am parliament / questions / earthquakes / recovery / entry to the drift

There has been enough waiting and as the sky lightens, I return to warmth and comfort, shining one small bright light into the darkness. And I read “This moment is all there is” and I think, here it is, synchronicity at work.

this book of light
is full
and slow to respond
full of dead poets
Rumi, Tuwhare, Cohen

There has been so much loss in so little time. Storytellers and singers, poets and priests, all are slipping away. The ground moved and we looked to the heavens. The rains came, and our tears were added to the flood. Myths abounded as we looked for reasons to explain the unexplainable. The moon that came too close. Too much moon, too much gravity. Facing the inevitability of time and the pain of too much love, too many memories.

Whatever the cause, the reality is – the very ground we walk on has proved unstable. We have a fragile peace between aftershocks when we take a ragged breath. We do not know if it will be safe to breathe out…

the black shadow sits heavily across belly and hips

6.40am Kaikoura / slow cooking using bricks from the house

bricks re-purposed
from a broken home
necessity brings invention
disillusion gives way to hope
disenchantment never quite took hold
the sun has risen
the cat is fed
and so

 the day begins

(the result of a writing workshop with Pip Adam – to focus on the details of one day – Friday 18 November 2016 – to observe, record and then transform. This is the result of the writing done the following day, Saturday 19 November. Still working on it – currently in prose, fewer “voices”, and managing to get past 6.40 am 😉)

©ClaireGriffin2016

tears in the sky

it has rained for three days
rain and fog and mist for two
and yesterday – more rain in a day
than usual for the whole month

the land itself was grieving
for the ones who’ve left us
for voices silenced
for songs unsung

Te Ihorangi and Hinewai
are the gods of rain and mist
male and female together
holding us in their embrace

as mist lay heavy on the hills
cloaks woven of all the tears
we’ve shed these last few days
these last few months

crying with us
until we are ready
to stand and turn our faces
to the sun

©Claire Griffin 2016

In this land, rain is often interpreted as a sign of grief, as if the land itself is crying in recognition of the passing of a great leader. This is an extract from the lament, ‘E pā tō hau’, for Te Wano of the Ngāti Apakura tribe:

E ua e te ua e taheke
Koe i runga rā
Ko au ki raro nei riringi ai
Te ua i aku kamo.

Come then, O rain, pour down
Steadily from above
While I here below pour forth
A deluge from mine eyes.

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/tawhirimatea-the-weather/page-4

Citation: Basil Keane, ‘Tāwhirimātea – the weather – Rain’,
Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,
http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/tawhirimatea-the-weather/page-4
(accessed 13 November 2016)
Full story by Basil Keane, published 12 Jun 2006

darker (r.i.p. L.Cohen, sincerely)

tears fly
like a thousand birds
into a midnight sky

I hold your voice
in the palm of my hand
my skin vibrates
with every breath

your words surround me
confront and shelter
the essence of what it means to be male
expressed in every husky rumble
and nuanced vowel
my very bones are shaking
as your low tones reverberate, resonate

my dreams are waking
from the dread I’ve carried
that you’d soon be gone

its been nothing but rain and fog
for two whole days
while you climbed the stairs
to your tower of song

I’ve lit a candle
I’ll keep it burning
I don’t want it any darker

©Claire Griffin 2016