the heart of this hill

I drove today
through rain and fog
over the Rimutaka Hill
to see my father

years earlier, my mother rode a train
through the heart of this hill
heading south
taking me away
from the place I was born

every time, driving back over this hill
I feel as though I am trying
to mend a wound I didn’t make

and I wonder, how many times
will I need to cross back and forth
before the edges are stitched together

but there will always be a tear in the fabric of time
I cannot weave a cloak long enough and wide enough 
to wrap around this hill

all I can do is keep coming back
keep crossing over

©clairegriffin2017

not running now

IMG_1024in a gallery, I stop in front of a coloured pencil drawing, busy with characters and symbols, layers of images with multiple meanings

a woman looks down from the top right corner, eyes pitched at extreme angles, acutely arched brows, and I am looking into the eyes of the artist, someone I’ve never heard of before today, someone born during a thunderstorm, in the place I used to call home

and here I am, pulled back into the black heart of my old city of stone and brick and hills and harbour, and the long peninsular reaching out into the sea

for every brilliant bright-eyed day, there was fog and rain and ice and cold, that we endured more than embraced, though we would never admit to that, stubborn Celtic stock, past generations transplanted to the opposite side of the globe, myths and legends and connections disrupted

that black heart becomes embodied in song, on runway, and on page and canvas, and in clay and wood and iron and glass

the arts run deep here

and just briefly, when I was younger, I brushed up against the energy that was manifest in the people who brought that heart to the surface

I smelt the sweet tobacco and wine and the bitter beer on their breath, as they talked late into the night in dark pubs, and in small rooms with few chairs, so we’d sit together on the floor and lean against the walls, talking of art and culture and origins and ethics and sex and love and time and commitment and paint and clay and sweat and fire and music and history and myth

and we’d stand at an open window in the winter cold listening to the wind music, and I loved it, and I wanted it, but it made me feel afraid, that I had nothing to offer, or that if I stepped off the edge into this world, there would be no coming back

I had been close, close enough to recognise the attraction of this life

but I ran

from the challenge, from the question, from the choice, from my own potential,
fear is a darker master than any carved bone or midnight candle

its too late to reach back and take the hands of those who would have lifted me
I press my own two hands together and breathe slowly over the fingers, the sigh of lost years and newly found resolve

I’m not running now

my eyes are a well and they fill from an ancient spring
the past is hidden in these tears
I dip deeply into the source
and now my pen runs with memory
and light reflected from a quicksilver pool
and the rain from a dark star
and the cry of birds and the green blood
of trees who shake their heads
and shed their skins
and hold out their branches
to take me in
that I might sleep among them

and dream

©clairegriffin2017

tea and memories

I’m so grateful for the time someone spent with me this afternoon – so patient – listening to my story – suggesting – clarifying – helping me to write my mihi – and more deeply – to connect with and claim my mihi as my own.

I came home – and stopped in front of this kawakawa bush – I was thinking about it yesterday and I knew the best thing would be to make tea from its leaves and let the past settle while I waited for it to steep.

I sit now with my tongue tingling along with my heart.

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

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…

IMG_6568

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