Winter’s Voice

Winter speaks in many voices
the languages of stars, of birds
of wind and rain
and the small dark hollows under trees

she writes her prayers with clouds
she spells the names of dark nights
with the rare bare branches
of this evergreen land
a vegetal alphabet
on her tongue

thunder her drum
lightning her torch
she curses her way across the sky

Winter speaks in many voices

~

today she is sleeping
and all I hear is her slow rhythm
breathing in, breathing out

the canopies of trees swell gently
heads pressing softly together
and Winter rests
cradled in their arms
her cool lips brush
across the tips of leaves

~

today she is weeping
all day her tears have fallen
who does she cry for
what love is lost
how can I hold her
when she slips away
her song riding on the wings of birds

~

today she smiles
and sighs
the day is bright
the sun low, and reaching
deep between branches
Winter whispers to the leaves
naming each one
child, beloved

~

she weeps
tears freeze
her eyelashes brittle and snap in the wind
arms, hair, fists flail across the sky
fury unleashed, and undirected
great gobs of spittle cast against windows

~

she weeps
but these tears cleanse
rinsing dust and dirt and spit
from every branch and leaf
until the world
shines

~

she weeps
she thrashes in her sleep
ripping bedsheet and blanket

she roars
throws dishes across the kitchen
blocks the sink and floods the floor
she breaks the windows and runs barefoot
and bleeding into the night

~

today is fine
still and sunny
quiet

she has brushed her hair
and dressed for lunch
in blue and yellow
she sits with one elbow on the table
wrist arched back
as she might if a cigarette was held between her fingers
she is quiet
reading and tracing the pattern on the tablecloth
with one hand

~

today is fine
blue sky, high clouds
she is silent

~

tonight
she sings
as her daughter
drops her head
slips the cloak of darkness
across her shoulders
and makes her escape

and in the morning
she sings up the sun
whispers into the ears of snails
her voice circling in the spiral hallway
whispering into the quiet spaces between petals
her warm words lifting the feathers
of sleepy birds

~

and today

her breath settles low on the hills
letting the morning wake slowly
she speaks quietly
as the green rises
and the birds wake
and the barefoot creatures
step into the light

©clairegriffin2018

 

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

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.

super moon

the eye of the universe draws nearer
she turns towards us
watching side on
like a great white whale
surfacing, curious, yet wary
she brings a gift to us
her own body, her luminous skin
she has come from the depths of space
to show what it looks like to be whole
she has come to bring light to our dark night
she has come to bring hope
she has come …

Monday is the night
of the perigree full moon
a supermoon

our pain, our cries of disappointment
and anger have been heard
and we have woken the spirits of our world

©Claire Griffin 2016

I was working on this almost three weeks ago, and was planning to post on Monday 14 November, the night of the supermoon.
However, Sunday night, early Monday morning, New Zealand was hit by a major earthquake, and my notions of a benevolent moon seemed naïve and sentimental. I’ve been a bit distracted ever since.
I never really finished this – but it fits with a few pieces that have emerged from the events of the last few weeks.

12 November – revised 1 December 2016

 

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/

 

being strong

We start with the best of intentions
to share the load,
the weight of life.

When others falter
we catch their hand
and lift them, and shelter, and console.
We carry what we can.

and this, we think, is how it should be.

Until, after time,
we notice, we cannot see the horizon.

The weight we carry has bent us
and we have spent so long looking down.
We have forgotten to let go.

We carry worries and fears and debts and doubts
in a basket we’ve woven from our own hair.
We struggle to shrug it off our backs,
but it has become part of us.
Our body has grown around it.
We would need to cut through the braids
that hold this weight against our backs
but in doing so, beware,
we would cut away part of who we are.

Why do we carry so much for others?
We do it because we can.
We do it because they cannot.

This does not mean that we cannot sit down to rest
with our backs against a rock.
Perhaps, we wonder, if we rub against it
the burdens will shift, become uncomfortable,
crawl out from between the strands.
Perhaps, we wonder, they might prefer to start walking on their own.

Still, when we come to rise
we must lift our own bodies,
press against the rock and breathe.
There is no-one to take our hand.

We do it on our own
because we can.

We lift our eyes to the horizon –
it is still there.
We step forward
and intention becomes action.

There is no-one to take our hand.
We do it on our own
because we can.

and this, we think, is being a woman.

 

© Claire Griffin 2016