a Tui in the rain


your black body lands on the green

sunlight strikes
and you flash emerald, turquoise and bronze
white-ruffed like an Elizabethan prince
outrageous elegance in this suburban garden

you pluck a purple berry from the Māhoe tree

I imagine …
you keep a ball of soot and sap tucked under your wing
and on rainy days like these you bring it out
spit berry juice over it and knead it into paste with one clawed foot
ready to make your mark

if I held my hand still
would you slip your beak into my skin
and ink your name, engrave a permanence
a sign of allegiance for the nights when you are hidden in the trees

I imagine …
writing a sonnet to your dark beauty
while I compose, you shriek and chortle
you fill your belly with violet pearls
your white bib staining amethyst
before taking wing to sing oblivious in the secret wood

©clairegriffin2017

quiet rain

in the still morning
quiet rain works its way
down through the branches
one drop embracing another
until heavy enough
to slide off edges and drop from buds
to fall to the green beds below
shaking leaves awake

the bush comes alive
as each small union of sky-tears
leap toward the earth

 

©clairegriffin2017

the green inside

there is a place that lives inside me
a space between trees
low hanging branches
overgrown grass
glimpses of sky
cool, damp and quiet
the sound of a stream nearby

the grass is deep, vital green
and when I lie down
it surrounds me
and I see nothing
but clouds shifting
liquid jade between

I am invisible to all
except birds who watch
from high behind the leaves
beetles climb the grass stems
a bee lands on my hand

surrounded on three sides by trees
the fourth side opening into the light
I remember the sadness of leaving

walking out into the sun
the loss of place

revisiting is bittersweet

© Claire Griffin 2016

winter wind – green gods

winter wind
blows in from the north
bringing mist and cloud
to lie low over the hills

and as the wind shifts
green gods are revealed

the thin mist is swept apart and
mythic trees step forward
out of ancient times
to stand for a moment
in the present

before the wind turns
and they walk back into the past

© Claire Griffin 2016

trees of the long white cloud : part II

the native evergreens
do not rest in winter

kahikitea, karaka, kauri, kowhai
pohutukawa, ngaio, rata, rimu, totara

season after season
they weave and re-weave
their cloak of green
they stay awake, alert
through summer’s drought
and winter’s flood and snow
seasons the least of their concerns
as their roots reach for each other
in the deep underground
and they wrap their long thin fingers around hidden rock
feeling for the slightest tremor, sensing the slightest shift

guardians of the earthmother
they draw life from her tears
from her breath and body
sentinels standing guard
aware, attentive, vigilant
calming her dreaming
holding tight in nightmares
as she shakes and trembles in her sleep
they cradle her head and breasts and hips as she turns
sometimes losing hold
and falling
as she shakes herself awake

 

© Claire Griffin 2016

trees of the long white cloud : part I

these trees are immigrants
keeping true to their long histories
continuing the customs of their ancestors

sepia, folium
tyrian, madder
minium, cinnabar
carmine, cadmium
saffron, sienna, ochre, weld

these colours are deceiving
unlike flowers, they are not an invitation
rather, they are a sign of loss
and of a turning inward

as the trees begin withdrawing into themselves
conserving energy, preserving life-force
releasing all non-essential elements
leaves lose green and fall

to protect themselves
from winter’s chill
the trees hibernate above ground
they stand naked in the cold
heart kept warm deep in their centre
beating slowly, barely breathing

they stand quietly, patiently
winter – one long meditation
until the sun rings the zen-bell
and branch tips stretch, buds open
and the trees shake themselves awake

 

© Claire Griffin 2016