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

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 key

there are rooms in this house I’ve not walked into
doors unopened, windows closed
paths that lie unchosen

I used to think
give me the key and I will fear I’m not worthy
give me the key and I will lose it
I will hide it
I will throw it away

but now – where does this fearlessness come from?

I walk down a dark hallway lined with doors
there are rooms I’ve forgotten
rooms I remember
but I don’t seek to re-enter those

its these other doors that intrigue me
doors that will open onto rooms I’ve never seen

I place one palm flat against the next door I come to
regretting that I never kept the key that once was mine
but it swings inward as soon as I touch it
and a flurry of small birds fly out
and I stand staring in bright light
at the dry golden grass beyond the open windows

I know this place
I was here once when I was young
I had forgotten it still lived within me

I step forward into a white room
white-washed wooden floor, white walls, ceiling open to the sky
as warm winds blow sheer white curtains toward me
my hair lifts in the smell of ozone and wild thyme

and here, on the table, in the centre of the room
is a carved box and a small bronze key

I recognise it
the same key I once abandoned
I mistook its purpose
this was never a key to open doors
doors that I had only ever imagined to be locked

this is a key to the future
and some strange magic has restored it to me
a whole new fertility is setting seed and ripening
mortality is making me brave

I unlock the box, and inside there are pencils and pens and bottles of ink
I shut the door behind me
and start writing on the walls

if I ever need to leave
the windows are open

 

©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

footprints

(and in the meantime – imagine a photograph of bird footprints…I’m working on it)

I feel thoughts circling
words waiting to be touched
the birds waiting to land
who have always been with me
just out of sight
only approaching from the side
when I’m looking ahead
or looking back
or when I’m still
eyes closed, mind open, listening
then they come

black birds of the imagination
bones bleached white in memory
feathers full of dreams
songs and claws and tails and wings

they strut and hop across the page
leaving spiky footprints, unbound symbols
runes of divine connection

or gently, they lower one wing
to deceive, or to start over
brushing the page clean

sometimes, they are so sure of their song
they stab with their beak
straight through, and pin it to the page

all I can ever do
is trace a line from the edge of one footprint to the next
and trust in the story
they want told

©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

 

 

this imaginal space – draft pt.xii

a month ago
three emissaries from the green-world
visited in the trees outside my house

a trio of plump white-chested kereru
a confirmation, affirmation
why else come for one day, and never again
except to tell me, there is a story to be told

I know why they came
I know who they represent

we find what we look for
synchronicity occurs when we pay attention

my prayer is observation and question
imagination is my promise and reply

 

©clairegriffin2017

this imaginal space – draft pt.x

the green man reaches up
to touch your snow-feathered shoulder
and you hold him in your pale hands
and take him into the dark places
binding him in a lunar eclipse
as you honour the enchanted union
with the son of the land

queen and daughter, wife and sister
you have many names

Artemis, Marama, Cerridwen, Hekate, Rhiannon, Arianhod

they are our gifts to you, whispered into the wind
our way of calling you family

but in the dark
he does not need to know your name
all he needs is the scent of your hair
the sound of your voice
the touch of your hand
and the ring of silver

 

©clairegriffin2017