the scent of silver

a band of pale grey wraps around my wrist
a band that moves and glows with life
shimmering, twisting, sliding down
against the bones of my hand

when turned between fingers and thumb
the metal warms, the light brightens
and I shift sideways
and all is light and warm
and time is younger
and skin is softer

the band of silver sings
and I am filled with the scent
of winter frost on southern thyme
and summer-dry grass beside the lake
and your hair freshly washed
and raspberries crushed between your fingers

 

daily prompt – describe the scent of silver – from Sarah Selecky https://www.storyisastateofmind.com/

I love these prompts, although I’m never organised enough
to work on them daily as is intended.
They trigger all sorts of associations and memories and ideas
that are unexpected, and usually welcome.

©clairegriffin2017

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 black jacket

this black jacket
has become a costume for talking to the past
rows of ribbons are metaphors
for the loves and stories and moments lost
stitched into the fabric
with the black thread of memory

(original short thought)

 

this black jacket
has become a costume for talking to the past
rows of ribbons are metaphors
for the loves and stories and moments lost
stitched into the fabric
with the black thread of memory

I have been revisiting my past
time-travelling as I stitch into the black
hearing and seeing I reach back
I put my hand on my younger shoulder
and say “beware”, “slow down”
I hold her while she cries and tell her
“I carry your loss, it is with me always”
I am the voice she didn’t hear
I am the voice she couldn’t speak

these memories are deeper and darker
than I expected
but they connect me with my self
I am becoming whole

I am becoming the wise woman
all edgy energy and persistence
I am becoming the dark
the black that attracted me as a child
the black I wore as a young woman
all depth and shadow and suggestion

these ribbons are the feathers and flowers
that connect me to the wild world
my collar is turned up
against winds of criticism and ignorance
my sleeves are edged
with beaks and thorns and claws
I would add mirrors and shells
I would carve runes into bones
and hold them in my pockets
tools of divination to read the times
all strength and resolution and power

this jacket, a cloak across my shoulders
a veil to cross into the night
darkness and mystery calls
and yet it is the light that gives me shape
there is no shadow without the sun
it is is the light that draws me forward
the truth
is the voice I speak
the future
is the path I walk

(complete version)

©clairegriffin2017

so – this began with a real black jacket. I was adapting it for a themed eighties party – but as I worked on it – I reflected on my self at the time – and the only idea I felt comfortable with was something I would have worn if the me I am now was transported to those times and could influence the me I was then

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”)

distance

there was always a distance

between us
a space I tried to cross
to reach you

I was alone
I sought your approval
thinking it was love

but now

I walk alone
crossing a bridge of my own making
to a place of my choosing

I don’t need you
to be on the other side

I am complete

© Claire Griffin 2016

This is the shortest edit I can make of a piece written in September. I find I am still processing the events and subsequent realisations from the end of last year. A massive emotional blow that led to the reassessment of a key person in my life and everything I thought I knew about my childhood.

I’ve been writing about these experiences over the last few months, and I hoped I had “dealt” with it all, but these thoughts keep surfacing.

So I hesitated to post this, yet another expression of my personal turmoil. When I shared this hesitation with a friend – she encouraged me to post saying “but you can put into words the things that others can’t – it helps others that you share your feelings” and then I remembered that I’ve always believed the deeply personal can be the most universal – so I trust that there will be something here to connect with.

And I’ll stop feeling I need to make excuses for them. These words are who I am, and who I am becoming. 

Still, while I’m tired of the darkness these pieces contain, writing my way through these feelings has released me, and I feel as though I am an adult at last, although I wish it hadn’t taken so long.