your hands

1/
when you would rub your hands together
as if they were cold
the strange tension and then release
and the way your face would screw up
and then relax into one of your glorious smiles
your nails curved over the ends of spatulate finger tips
a cigarette held loosely between two fingers
palm up, hand bent at the wrist, while you talked
strong hands, capable, practical, tender

2/

when you rolled a cigarette
when you used both hands
to gather your dark heavy hair
and lift and twist it up
and away from your face
fingers stained with paint
long, slender, graceful, the colour of weak coffee

3/

when your hands gather tomatoes
or test the weight of cucumbers
I see the knuckles enlarged with age
the scar on the side of your thumb
the clean, neat nails

these hands would have held me once
when I was a baby, a tiny child
they would have lifted me and felt my weight

and when we are gathering lemons
and you are passing them to me
you pass all the times you held my hand
stroked my hair, and tucked me in close beside you

your hands have been open ever since
waiting for mine to close over them

Writing prompt from Sarah Selecky:
“write a list of times you remember staring at someone’s hands”.
https://www.storyisastateofmind.com/

These are my memories of three special people.

©clairegriffin2017

 

 

 

dreams of – heritage and challenge and change

Thinking about dreams…

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What does it mean when you meet someone in a dream, you learn their name, their job, develop friendship. They are interested in who you are, they look at your writing.

They asked me a question I can’t remember fully – but I know it was a challenge of sorts – “so if you have this Scottish heritage why are you still writing …?” I can’t remember the rest of their question, but I know I countered with “…and the Irish”. We were looking at handwritten text and in the dream I could read it – but have no idea now what was written.

We sit looking at the dark sky filled with multiple crescent moons and stars and I say, “on nights like this I can’t imagine there being anywhere better – but maybe its time to leave…” and we agree to move away.

It really is like living another life…

Thoughts:

  • heritage
  • challenge
  • change

 

 

red and green

on my doorstep
a brown cardboard box
tied with string

standing in my kitchen
I cut the string
and open the box slowly
lifting away the paper inside

and all is red and green
and smooth and curved and fresh and ripe
skin and leaves
one long green crunch of cucumber
and balls of plump red juiciness

I lift one round red globe
and the sunlight bounces off the surface
five green fingers reach out from the stem
gestures of greeting in the quiet room
I hold it close and there’s the distinctive tang of tomato
the scent of a summer garden

and so much more
I see the hands that lifted each rosy globe
felt the weight and pressed thoughtfully on the skin
the hands that snapped the ripe fruit from the vine
the hands that nestled each one into this box
arranging and rearranging for the perfect fit
I see the hands tying the string
and checking all is secure
hands that reached for me
and held me as gently
as these tender fruits

all acceptance
and generosity
the hands of a gardener
growing love

©clairegriffin2017

stepping through

don’t let me know when you’re opening the door
close me in the dark, let me disappear
this time tomorrow I’ll know what to do

soon there’ll be nothing left of me
nothing left to release
who can I be now?

I don’t know who I am
here, there’s no music here
I’m lost in streams of sound

here, am I nowhere now?
everything has changed
it’s the beginning of nothing

the trees die standing
the night was always falling
I’m walking down

it’s nothing to me, nothing remains
I don’t stand in my own light
there will be no tomorrow

I’m stepping through the door
and the stars
look very different today

©arrangement-clairegriffin2017 (all text by DB)

Ever since the beginning of last year, I’ve been meaning to make a found poem using lyrics by David Bowie. So this year, I committed to getting it done. This poem is not what I expected – I was imagining something strange and wild and colourful – but I kept being drawn to these words. Natural enough I suppose, since I started this just a day or two after the anniversary of his passing.

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Low – I think this was the first Bowie album I bought – quite possibly based on the cover alone. I thought he was just the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen. Then I worked backwards, buying everything I could find. I watched his music videos, and the movies he was in, and I marvelled at his ability to transform, to use costume and makeup and gesture to convey different personalities.
His work helped this shy, insecure 18 year old to recreate herself, and showed her how to use appearance as a tool to enter into the world. I’ve remembered that ever since, that transformation is possible, that our selves are fluid and we can present ourselves to the world in different guises.
And, that the confidence gained from that can then begin to re-work the inner self.
Thank you with all my heart – starman, bluebird, Mr Jones xxx

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

 

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/

 

fortress

I can carry my own inner child
I can protect and reassure
and love her

but I cannot carry yours as well
you need to heal your own child

you left her alone, crying
into the emptiness, waiting
to be heard, to be held in love

you erected barriers
to keep you both safe
but these kept everyone
at a distance

and now, no matter how much
attention she is given
she will not be
silenced

you are a fortress
harbouring a
crying child

 

© Claire Griffin 2016

And with this, in those last three line, I finally formed a metaphor to describe and explain the behaviour of someone once near to me. Moving past my own hurt and anger, I found something like understanding, almost compassion. But the fourth line holds true – I cannot hold someone else’s pain. I am not responsible for it, and I do not have the answers.