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

the earth shifts

The earth shifts –
she stirs to wake me.

This air I breathe –
is your breath.

This land I walk –
is your body.

All that time away,
the image of this land burned
on the back of my eyes.
I saw nothing –
but through the after-image
of mountain, lake, forest, river, sea.

Here now, whole again,
to read the map of my land
to walk my own path.

                 I would be one with you.

© Claire Griffin 2016

We had an earthquake last night –
and I remembered this poem,
written after the first earthquake I felt
after my return to NZ from the UK.

3 day quote challenge : Day Two

So – just disrupting the challenge here – knowing I’ll be busy tomorrow – hence two quotes in one day 😉

Day Two

from the poem “The Thought Fox” – by Ted Hughes (from his first collection “The Hawk in the Rain”, 1957).

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

The fox as a metaphor for the imaginative process. This last stanza – the moment when the poem itself is written. I’ve always loved this poem, and I think it has informed my own strong affinity for metaphor.

I’ve always thought of the fox in both a literal and metaphoric sense. As alive, as real, something the poet may have seen as he looked out into the dark night, and at the same time, visualised it as the poetic imagination, the creative energy that wakens when the poet seeks to begin a piece of writing. The vital imaginative energy of the fox enters the poet’s mind. The fox representing something wild and dark and mysterious, a tentative essence that cautiously moves closer until it chooses to enter the poet’s head.

This metaphor represents the idea that the poem comes from somewhere beyond the poet, some kind of mystic, supernatural inspiration. Poetry, any kind or writing, is also a lot of really hard work, it takes a conscious effort on the part of the writer. If we waited for inspiration to walk out of the night, we may never bring anything on to the page. I think that writing is a balance of the two.

What I find even more interesting is Ted Hughes’ description of how a fox came to him in a dream. He was struggling over an essay and finding it impossible to write. When he finally slept, he dreamt of a large fox that walked upright, its fur burnt, as if it had walked through fire. It placed a bloody paw on his paper and said “Stop this – you are destroying us”.

I wonder who was meant by “us” – his unwritten poems perhaps?

Fox as real living creature, poetic metaphor and Jungian dream symbol. Something to investigate…




walk into the sun

An overcast day
low tide
the pier exposed
individual piles stand alone
in formation
a structure imposed.
I walk toward them
revisiting the past
seeking shelter
in the spaces between.
Sun breaks through cloud
colour floods
but its all an illusion.
Water pools around my feet
heels start sinking
the nearer I walk to land
the more decay and damage.
The piles falling slowly
sinking slowly
as the sea advances and retreats.
But the sea itself is shelter
and where the water is deeper
they still stand upright
resisting the pull of the land

and I walk between them
I walk into the sea
I walk into the sun

from breath to word

the intake of breath
in sadness
in shock

the slow quiet exhalation
in wonder

following trails of thoughts
feeling your way in the dark
seeking a way to explain

sometimes thoughts present themselves
sometimes you search
putting your hand into a bag of black velvet
or a pool of dark water
the shadow space between rocks
the invisible space between words

and you can feel the brain searching for connections
and trusting and waiting
for the words to come

inviting yourself into the unknown
reaching forward to find the first word
is the bravest thing
a key turning
a door opening
onto an unknown room

stepping through a door you don’t recognise
stepping into a room you didn’t know was yours
a room without walls
of infinite size
you see everything from the horizon to distant galaxies
sunset to exploding star
a room as small as a ear of a bird
you hear the whisper of mice
and the songs of bees
the breath of a leaf

you hold your hands out
waiting for the words to settle
treasures, fears,
longings, regrets
precious, tender
and you carry them back through the door
leaving it open

they arrange themselves on the table
not all want to stay
some call their kin to join them

and you help them rest on the paper
in a thread of ink

and when the ink is dry
you know they’ve decided to stay



We sit around the table
gentle, quiet
reaching towards each other
finding connection
reading, writing,
sharing thoughts,
asking questions

and while we talk
the sun warms the bones of this house
cicadas call
the sea laps at our doorstep
and shells gather against the walls

and birds enter the room
sit on our shoulders


so – during the writing workshop one of the suggestions was to respond to the place we were in – I like the way this shifts from the concrete, realistic to a magical connection to the natural world – this happens a lot in my work – I explain things to myself through a strange kind of metaphoric visualisation