hold the sky, shelter the land
dance in the half-light, verdant choreography
filling the space
every window shows your face
your multitudes, your bright insistence
the falling begins
the withdrawal, the sheltering
hold life close to your heart and release the past
bright jewels fall
from your fingers, painting the ground
colours from a royal palette – amber, ruby, amethyst
release the lost ones
shelter those come home
clear a path, light a candle, set the table, close the door
deepen your shadows
rich histories beckon as we go into the dark
slow mysteries in the undergrowth, bright eyes watching
a little madness, a little wisdom
spin the compass in the midst of winter
a wild circling, a dance that keeps your heart awake
there is beauty in your ravaged body
and shelter still between your naked arms
not barren, only sleeping; not alone, the night birds are watching
awaken, unfold, arise
bathe in sunlight and transform it
green energy ebbs and flows in your veins
waking slowly, you smile
and colour bursts across the hillsides
fat, furry bees investigate your sleeves
arms heavy with flowers
you reach for the earth and greet the sky
walk the green labyrinth
end the year at the beginning
follow root and stem to the source
Unlike other years, when I’ve spent these weeks before the end of December putting together my calendar for the following year, this time I’ve started with and completed the text first.
Previously, I’ve chosen the photos that “spoke” to me, and then recorded their message. This time, I started gathering photos and realised I was choosing pictures of trees, and that there was a voice coming even though I didn’t have all the photos yet.
So I decided to let the voice speak, and I’ll revisit my selection and find or take new photos as required.
These verses begin with January and work their way to December. For those of you in the northern hemisphere, this might make more sense if you start in the middle.
And – veriditas – one of the three “v” words that have both well and truly settled into me and become a form of expression. I’ll post some work on the others in the new year.
This time of year is full of spirit, talk of the thin veil, acknowledging ancestors.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are well into spring, and I’m focusing on renewal and finding beauty.
Blossoms are everywhere, scenting the air, delicate pale pink petals on my small apple tree. The weeds are doing their best to compete, bright yellow dandelion flowers shouting from the emerald grass.
This is such an intense time, saturated colour, and the startling speed of new growth.
The flax flowers are almost opening, and when they do, tui will circle the house, then land and feed.
And I’ve been reflecting on how I can release my work into the world. This year has had such a focus on the visual. I’ve been gifting paintings to my friends. My own little efforts to bring beauty into the world. My little blossoms in the wind …
This morning began with rain, the gentle rain that collects and settles on leaves.
The photos for this calendar were all taken last year. I took another photo this morning that was almost identical – a year apart in time, but connected by rain and light.
There’s little more to say, except that, in these strange times, remembering the gifts the earth gives us could help us remember the gifts we can give each other and ourselves – gentleness, kindness, patience, encouragement.
At first I thought that was all I had to say. I felt an emptiness. I could feel myself casting around for the right words… there are no “right words”. There is only whatever you feel the need to say. There is only the saying of whatever it is you are feeling.
I feel the same rage that rises in so many women around the world. Frustration with the inequalities in our societies, with the sense of entitlement that so many express. There’s a part of me that wants to join in the cries of “burn it down!”. I don’t want to feel helpless, I don’t want to feel afraid. I’m drawn to myths of Medusa and Kali and the Morrigan. And yet I feel the witch-wound stirring in my blood, and I wonder if I can be courageous.
All I know is that I have welcomed the crone into my body and soul … and she speaks now, the wise woman, the healer, the mystic.
There’s a part of me that needs to step back, and breathe. Standing barefoot on the cool wet ground this morning, I felt calm and quiet, connected to the rain and the light.
And now – the sun has is out. I bask in her warmth and the wet ground is drying. And there were words, after all.
edges pull together, coalesce into beak and claw and feather
black energy takes form
These black beauties are making themselves known. They peck at the edges of the garden, throwing decaying leaves across the driveway. They peck in the guttering, throwing clumps of mucky sludge onto the deck. And they peck at my kitchen window.
Last weekend, there was a tapping at the window. I didn’t realise what it was at first, then one of the cats started looking out the window making that strange chattering, chirruping noise, and I thought, “ah – a bird”. A minute later the pecking noise came again, but I wasn’t quick enough to see who was there. And then – at a different window directly opposite me – a bird started tapping. It seemed to be almost hovering – head bobbing back and forward to tap the glass – wings outstretched. I stepped forward – it looked up, then flew away.
What was its message? Did it have one? Perhaps it was simply a curious youngster intrigued by its own reflection?
I don’t need to know.
What I love is the connection – the bird-world visiting.
And this day – this first day of spring – I feel the dark of winter withdrawing.
It condenses into seed and bud and bird – ready to release its energy into a bright new season.
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
the day is bright
the sun low, and reaching
deep between branches
Winter whispers to the leaves
naming each one
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
but these tears cleanse
rinsing dust and dirt and spit
from every branch and leaf
until the world
she thrashes in her sleep
ripping bedsheet and blanket
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
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
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
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
Earlier this month I was distracted by a whale in the harbour, planets in alignment and the lunar eclipse – so distracted that I wasn’t aware of the turning of the month, calendar time was lost on me.
So now we’re in August – the days are still short with dark mornings and dark nights – but the plants know spring is coming. New shoots are forming, some plants already flowering, and birds are back in the garden.
There’s a restlessness in me after so much time spent inside. I find myself moving outside – even in the dark – in the rain – my lungs are opening to the freshness in the air.