your body tells me

all is quiet and peaceful
the white body stretches
fluff and tufts and curls
pink underbelly revealed
sleep takes time and
a commitment to stillness
its all an illusion of calm

when awake, the furred paws reach out
desiring but sensitive to touch
pleasure quickly shifting
to irritation and reactive bite
slowly I’m learning how to connect
keep a firm pressure
just the head and scruff

when awake, the stomach leads, curiosity follows
with long, late night explorations
returning early morning
tousled, leaves hitch-hiking in the fur
strolling in like some careless wanderer
fresh from gallivanting about the neighbourhood
an opportunist, a pathfinder, a rapscallion

you have a history that I’ll never know
for now all that matters is that I am patient
and learn to understand your unique nature
there is an energy around you that I’m trying to read
and if I sit still and watch
your body tells me everything I need

fire walks on snow

IMG_7935

©clairegriffin2017

(Prisma app used with original photo of the newbie)

I never knew

I am lost in your hunger

I have bowls full of honey and figs
salted caramel, dark chocolate, and cherries
but I don’t know what to offer you

its no good showing me your hands
or your bright blue eyes
or the curl at the corners of your mouth
they don’t tell me what you need

your hands are soft, your fingers long
skillful, gentle, strong
they don’t show me what you need to touch
that you want to roughen your skin
with dirt and wood and stone
these hands caress, they gift forgiveness
I never knew
they wanted to be held

your eyes are blue
deep set, astute
they are restless and curious
scanning for beauty and the next new thing
they don’t show me that you want to see
the familiar, and the new, grown old
these eyes can cross a room
they share your soul
but I never knew you wanted me
to see them closed

and I can’t trust your mouth
to tell me what you need
all fullness and laughter and easy smile
you speak of honesty and truth
you’d rather your words hurt me, than lie
you appear to question fearlessly
I never knew you trembled before each answer
I never knew you needed more than promises
kissed into your hair
I never knew you needed to bite through
the skin of devotion
that you needed me to bite back

hold out your hands
that I might take them in mine

close your eyes
that I might watch you sleep

show me your teeth
that I might know what to feed you

 

©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

 

 

 

a wooden box in the winter sun

a small wooden box sits beside me on the table
crafted from three types of wood – plum, matai and kauri
glowing red and golden brown in the winter sun

the top fits snugly
and needs firm but gentle pressure
if I am to lift the lid

I almost never do

I cradle it in one hand, lay the other across the top
eyes closed, body memory recalling texture and movement
remembering what it was like to touch one small live warm soul

its been two years now

at first, I immersed myself in your image, walked past photos of you every day
until slowly, I moved beyond the raw pain, the sadness
I no longer reached out as if my touch could wake you

but a week ago I stopped, felt the tightness preceding tears
felt compelled to touch the frame
that has held its four wooden arms around you

and I thought – this is the time
this is the time to write of you, to write to you
my little heart, my elegant soul, my brave boy

long-legged, big-eared, golden-nosed
one wide band of black glossy hair from head to tail
proud-chested, regal, handsome tabby face

in your younger days you would go in to battle
with any who dared cross your boundaries
until the end, when you were content to watch from the window

you were nervous of people you didn’t know
it took you years to stay in the same room with strangers
until the end, when any lap was a warm haven

you loved to lie full length in the sun
you loved sleeping on the bed
until the end, when stretching and jumping was an effort

your bright eyes, pale greeny-gold
would gaze into mine, like two souls connected
until the end, when you were blinded by age

until those last three days
when, over and over again,
you were shaken by the hand of some cruel god

you fell and trembled, lost all control and woke wet and bewildered
and each time, all I could do was cry and hold you
clean you and let you bury your head in my arms

you deserved to go easy

the last thing I could do was help you avoid
the hand that sought to wrench you from my side
was to help you slip away, peaceful

and sitting there, as the vet left the room for potions of sweet sleep
you lifted your head and looked toward the sunlit window
you were seeing something . . .

 

red and golden wood now shelters you
and yesterday I lifted the lid
and touched the air above you with the tip of one finger

I felt a pulse – of my heart, of yours?

and passing your photo, I closed my eyes and kissed the frame
tears rose and fell, and it was slowly that I wiped them away

nineteen years you walked this earth
and now a small wooden box sits on the table
who would think the memories of so many years
could live within its walls

 

for Thomas, and all those who understand the connection between human and animal

©clairegriffin2017

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

green

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your footsteps play
on the skin of the land
as on a drum
I feel the ground vibrate

you are coming

you will lie beneath me
and I will drop
sun-ripened fruits
into your mouth

you will stand still in my arms
as the wind blows around us
I move so slowly
this is how we dance

you will hear me singing to you
while you sleep
I speak so quietly
you can only hear me in your dreams

I am strong and grounded
the one you seek
my roots run deep
my tribe is many

you are a bright brief burst of life
and I am older than your generations
you are constantly astounded
my hair is green
and yet you love me

©clairegriffin2017