summer prayer

out of time / out of place

drenched in sun
heat soaks into skin
warms the blood, reaches bone
flesh swells, hair bleaches

this is no drying, endangering fire
this is lifeforce
entering, awakening

days of sun repeat

beginning to trust
each night will turn to light and heat
blue sky endless
breeze just enough to cool the skin

fat bees fly past, heavy with pollen
cicadas call, birds call
sheep call and answer

the wind finds voice
whispering through tall, pale gum trees

my silence and life’s song
under the summer sun

out of time / out of place

tuning in to nature
ready to respond
ready to become
let the wind move
through me
find your voice
in me

I am open
to the world’s will
and every bug and bird
and bud and tree
and river, rock, and mountain
move in me.

©clairegriffin2017

This was written just after xmas when staying at an old farmhouse for a few days over the summer in 2011. I had been lying out in the sun, reading a book on journaling, in that state when you’re searching for something but you don’t know what it is. I was looking outside myself – I hadn’t yet learnt to look within – but I was getting closer…

This is one of those poems that came very quickly – all except one word. I was stuck on the word that needed to sit after ‘rock’. I puzzled over this off and on – then left it for ages. Its interesting that its now (after settling on Rimutaka for my mihi just a couple of weeks ago – see the previous poem “the heart of this hill”) that mountain seems to fit perfectly. 

Either just before or after I wrote this, I went for a walk along the dusty gravel road – and as I walked round the bend that led slightly uphill – I had a sense of, a desire for, everything to be white. Almost the sense of wedding the land – sinking into, and becoming one with, the land around me. I remember thinking that if the sun was to vapourise me in that very moment – I would be content.

27 December 2011 – completed 16 September 2017.

the black jacket

this black jacket
has become a costume for talking to the past
rows of ribbons are metaphors
for the loves and stories and moments lost
stitched into the fabric
with the black thread of memory

(original short thought)

 

this black jacket
has become a costume for talking to the past
rows of ribbons are metaphors
for the loves and stories and moments lost
stitched into the fabric
with the black thread of memory

I have been revisiting my past
time-travelling as I stitch into the black
hearing and seeing I reach back
I put my hand on my younger shoulder
and say “beware”, “slow down”
I hold her while she cries and tell her
“I carry your loss, it is with me always”
I am the voice she didn’t hear
I am the voice she couldn’t speak

these memories are deeper and darker
than I expected
but they connect me with my self
I am becoming whole

I am becoming the wise woman
all edgy energy and persistence
I am becoming the dark
the black that attracted me as a child
the black I wore as a young woman
all depth and shadow and suggestion

these ribbons are the feathers and flowers
that connect me to the wild world
my collar is turned up
against winds of criticism and ignorance
my sleeves are edged
with beaks and thorns and claws
I would add mirrors and shells
I would carve runes into bones
and hold them in my pockets
tools of divination to read the times
all strength and resolution and power

this jacket, a cloak across my shoulders
a veil to cross into the night
darkness and mystery calls
and yet it is the light that gives me shape
there is no shadow without the sun
it is is the light that draws me forward
the truth
is the voice I speak
the future
is the path I walk

(complete version)

©clairegriffin2017

so – this began with a real black jacket. I was adapting it for a themed eighties party – but as I worked on it – I reflected on my self at the time – and the only idea I felt comfortable with was something I would have worn if the me I am now was transported to those times and could influence the me I was then

tears in the sky

it has rained for three days
rain and fog and mist for two
and yesterday – more rain in a day
than usual for the whole month

the land itself was grieving
for the ones who’ve left us
for voices silenced
for songs unsung

Te Ihorangi and Hinewai
are the gods of rain and mist
male and female together
holding us in their embrace

as mist lay heavy on the hills
cloaks woven of all the tears
we’ve shed these last few days
these last few months

crying with us
until we are ready
to stand and turn our faces
to the sun

©Claire Griffin 2016

In this land, rain is often interpreted as a sign of grief, as if the land itself is crying in recognition of the passing of a great leader. This is an extract from the lament, ‘E pā tō hau’, for Te Wano of the Ngāti Apakura tribe:

E ua e te ua e taheke
Koe i runga rā
Ko au ki raro nei riringi ai
Te ua i aku kamo.

Come then, O rain, pour down
Steadily from above
While I here below pour forth
A deluge from mine eyes.

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/tawhirimatea-the-weather/page-4

Citation: Basil Keane, ‘Tāwhirimātea – the weather – Rain’,
Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,
http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/tawhirimatea-the-weather/page-4
(accessed 13 November 2016)
Full story by Basil Keane, published 12 Jun 2006

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

 

monday

today is Monday, and I have given myself the gift
of a longer than usual lunch
after three weeks battling an ear infection
I can hear well enough to spend an hour
listening to a poet read her work, and describe it as
ordinary and complicated
simple and detailed
instinctive and conscious
and when asked
“what makes a poem a poem?”
she talked of rhythm
and sound
and space
“its all about the line endings”
and I sat there thinking
she is speaking my language

leaving the room, I felt strangely calm and quiet
I was walking carefully, touching the ground lightly
as if I was carrying a bowl of water
that I did not want to spill

as soon as I walked outside, and all the way to the car
I was immersed in sounds
a pushchair rattling over uneven ground
teenage boys with their big voices
a truck changing gear
and in the distance, the music of bagpipes
that came
and went
and came again
as I walked past the gaps between buildings
and construction works
cars passing
crossing signals
and a dog’s lead clinking, black coat shining in the sun

all enter the sensitive water
subtle ripples spreading to the edge
and all the way, holding this bowl before me
not a drop is spilt

getting into the car I turned off the radio
and drove twenty minutes to a meeting
and still, I was enveloped in sound
wind noise, the “click/clack” of the indicator
and tyres rumbling over cat’s eyes
as I changed lanes on the motorway
I turn and stop
opening the door
a seagull shrieks
announcing my arrival

I enter the room and sit at the end of the table
I am not the person they were expecting
I am halfway through the day
and half present in the room
holding a bowl crowded and heavy with words
and I am sitting, silent
listening
to the sound of my own voice

 

© Claire Griffin 2016

coincidence or more?

how strange it is to choose the raven when first representing myself here, and to focus in recent work on my need to “speak” – to give voice – and then register for a newsletter, receive a free gift with it and discover this gift was a series of online workshops called “sacred voice – bootcamp with raven” … this is not “just” coincidence – there’s something more afoot – I take it as an affirmation that I’m on the right track – following perhaps the raven’s footsteps …

pt 3 – speaking

Thoughts from two months ago … catching up with myself at last

I used to think that I wanted to be heard, to be seen, to be known. And perhaps that is still true. But just recently, just in the last week or so, I realised that what I need is simply to speak.
Of course I’d like to be heard, to be recognised – but now – the most important thing is to speak for its own sake – for my own sake. I’m using the term “speaking” as a way of describing the declaration of my own thoughts, feelings, beliefs – I might speak aloud, I might write – but I will give voice to my self.

When I was younger, the desire to be heard and known was strong. And I wonder now what lay behind that need – why did I feel so “unknown”? (Recent events have led me to reflect on my past, my childhood, and I’ve begun to gain insight into why that need was so strong.) But, I had no idea how to be heard, to be known, and I did not understand that I had to present myself in a way that could make this possible. I was waiting – without moving toward the thing I sought.

Someone did recognise me once years ago. They knew me, understood me – but it was before I was ready. They heard me before I had anything to say. They heard the essence of me, they recognised my possibility. And because of this I made the mistake of thinking that I didn’t need to act, to create, to speak myself into existence. And over time they became frustrated by my passivity. We were out of synch. We met out of time as if we were circling through our lives in our own spirals, and somehow had reached out and touched as our spirals passed each other, but weren’t completely aligned. But maybe there is no wrong time. It happened and I understand it now.

But there was always this residual feeling that there was something I wanted outside of myself. I’ve been looking for the thing outside of myself that I could work towards.

A few weeks ago something happened that rocked my sense of self, and my sense of the true nature of someone I thought I knew. Somehow this had the effect of jolting me into myself. I realised that I need to look within and trust my self. Painful as it was – this has been, as some say, “a gift”. I feel released, I feel lighter, and that surprises me.

And in the last few days I realised I also need to trust the thing that has always been there, the thing I’ve always felt good at, the thing that I’ve used to help me understand. I need to write. That is how my voice will be spoken – and I’ve reached the point that it doesn’t matter so much now whether I am heard or not. It’s the speaking that is important. It’s the speaking that makes me real and true and alive. And I will focus less on seeking and becoming, and more on being who I already am.

But now I wonder – am I speaking or am I being spoken?