A Journal for Linking Poets
At the end of today
in the park scout-hall
a line of gulls
scarred with craters
When life overwhelms, I drive to my favorite forest hideaway. After unpacking, I begin the long loop walk. The glint and gleam from above makes patterns on the tree trunks and at my feet in the leaf litter as nocturnal creatures start to stir. I climb steadily upwards, over the crest, then begin the long descent down the steep, rough trail towards the tumbledown chimney overgrown and tangled in vines.
in the star light
The specialist is kindly but clear: the options are yours now, not theirs. Yours to choose the rest of your life. You choose, simply, as you always have.
a white glare
The rain has gone. I step outside my back door and into a miracle. Bracketing my yard is a double rainbow, its four ends disappearing behind the fences. Vibrant colours fill my vision, the centre of the arch luminous. There is music here: if only I could listen properly, I would hear it.
suddenly the silence
On his fourth birthday we give our son a magician’s costume and three magic tricks. Over and over we pretend to be amazed by his hocus-pocus.
After several days of storms and high seas, swimming in the rock pool is rougher than I ever remember it.
Dad's voice echoing:
I feel buffeted, out of control – as you, too, must with your awful diagnosis. Each choice is loaded. Each day brings a different perspective.
tossing a coin
A heavy dew lies on the grasslands, blades bent beneath the weight of clinging water. Patches of shiny frost sparkle in the early sun. The chill is crisp. Each breath snaps in my chest. I am sitting on the back porch in the weak warmth with my first cup of tea for the day, pondering … looking across the neat fenced paddocks. I spy a family of grey bunnies hopping slowly, deliberately, towards the shelter of their drain bank burrow. I find myself smiling.
breath of new day
Our local weekly newspaper just carried an article stating that the salmon season would open on time on April 6th because last year “nearly 35,500 “jack” Chinook salmon returned to spawn in the Sacramento River and 21,500 returned to the Trinity River.” The similarity of both numbers ending in 500 set me to wondering how you count fish, imaginary sheep, or flames in a fire.
unable to sleep
Where waves draw back, the shore glints crystals. As a child, I imagined the wet sand held hidden jewels. Sixty years later, I still hold hopes of finding treasure.
along the water’s edge
Down the track
First time at the track. She leafs through the form guide. Ah, here's race four.
win or lose
Just passing by
In the cool mid-morning air, there is a sense of waiting, a breath-held hush. Seemingly suspended between sea and sky, the road carves it way through the steep plunge of the rainforest to the ocean below. Then it comes, at the edge of hearing. A thud of feet, a harsh sawing of breath, the lurching mass of joggers plodding their way from Lorne to Apollo Bay in the annual marathon. In that crowd of struggling bodies are my sons and their wives, worshipping the gods of fitness.
no pause to admire the view
Out guessing guests
Time to hit the yard sales. Converting the old studio into new guest quarters means I get to shop for furniture. So is it wiser to buy better-made things that have been used or should I go for all new, but much cheaper stuff? Should I go for near-antiques or will people on vacation not be in the mood to take care of things when they are sun burnt and covered with sand? Sand! Showers! I will need to buy sheets and extra towels. I need to start a list.
tides of people
After the weekend
My weekend visitors left yesterday. This house seems larger and emptier than it’s ever felt before. I spend the morning outside, in the garden, ruthless with weeds, gentle with the seedlings – Christmas bush, westringia, banksia. I wonder who will live here by the time these small plants grow to full height.
the wake of a wave
Living underground makes sense in Coober Pedy. A way of escaping the extreme temperatures on the surface. Some of the residents strike it lucky in their quest for the fiery gemstones. Others leave without finding any opals.
A massive oak grows next door, sprawled across two backyards, and delighting me through the seasons. Recently, new neighbours, without warning, hacked off the branches overhanging their backyard. After eighty years, the tree’s casual symmetry is now lopsided. Each day I feel the brutality of those unkind cuts.
poised between pragmatism
Home in my own bed, head buzzing after another round of failed negotiations to halt building of the dam, which will drown the remnant temperate rainforest. Outside the window leaves are shivering on slender bark arms in the scowling breeze. A voice is calling softly and insistent … whispering in my ear as I fall asleep. And I am cradled by the dream song singer in a swollen river’s rush towards the falls where stars merge in blinding light.
The sky is warm blue over the surging Pacific as I descend steep steps cut into the cliffside. Below, a large rockpool for the exclusive use of women and children is filled with the movement of bathers and breaking waves.
swimming through the swell
Even before he begins to play, he charms me with his smile and an accent that’s come from around the world. A few words on each raga and then his fingers tap the tabla, slowly at first, then building into frenzied dexterity. Mesmerised, I watch his hands become a blur. All the while, he nods in time, each beat distinct, his hair a frizzy metronome.
don’t ask about me –
Lest we forget
Every Anzac Day I turn on the TV to watch the veterans march along George Street in the city. Most of them are in suits and ties. Those unable to march are pushed in wheelchairs or ride in army jeeps and taxis.
In the silences on the phone I can hear how she sucks in her breath trying not to cry. No mother wants to hurt her own child yet I have done just that. Against my will I have had to tell her exactly how the spring finds us – what we can do and not do anymore.
a child at dawn
Cycle of life
Leaf-strewn beaten earth in dappled shade, the path ahead follows the mountain’s curve. Below me there is the hiss of breaking surf on the outer reef. Above, a rustling forested slope rises to the mountain’s peak. Then I hear it, a harsh keening cry. A flash of white breast as the sea eagle drops like a stone, then rises in a smooth arc, a flapping fish in her claws. She settles on a rocky ledge high on the cliff face, folds her wings. Gaping beaks greet her.
the steady, relentless
The sun is shining but I can find no warmth. Alone among strangers. After all these years a single tear escapes and I am undone. Hope is misplaced. Lost where thoughts and deeds from the past gnaw. From the unstitched sky you appear to reassure and lead me back.
threads of friendship
I stand at a cusp: the tug of friendships, the pull of adventure, the drag of fear. A kookaburra swoops from a branch to claim an earthworm in my freshly turned soil. Trains roll past on the line nearby. From down the street a lawn mower chatters. On this pristine Autumn afternoon life continues all around. If we could see the future, would it make today’s choices easier?
the call of a currawong
On the other side of the world it is early spring. Beyond my family's blue-painted house, sturdy cherry trees lining the hilly avenue are still in bud. During my three weeks of grandmothering there, those yaezakura trees flower densely with deep pink double blossoms. And everywhere are tulips lighting up the parks and suburban gardens.
OF A FEATHER
this mate of mine
how to return
how long I waited
colours still wet
how to stay grounded
chagrinned, I’ll admit
stick upon stick
Arabic swan song:
Haiga by Máire Morrissey-Cummins
AN AUTUMN JUNICHO
a hermit crab fights the foam
torn tickets strewn about
pale moths all as one
that half-inch space
after lights' out
cloves in a muslin bag
a cake of dark rosin
she steps on dandelions
high over the land
Composed at The Renku Group, October 2012
after letting out
I try to see
A SIDE OF DRIZZLE
Haiga by Anne-Dore and Wolfgang Beutke
BLAUE SCHIMMER - BLUE SHIMMER
Side 1 – jo
Side 2 – ha
Side 3 – ha
Side 4 – kyû
I watch you walk in with the sun through the open French windows. You sit down with a smile, unshaven as if returning from a long journey. You pour coffee, add some sugar and stir in the milk with work-worn hands. How have you been, all these days and nights in a different world?
The Zargans were friendly, initially, but when it came to playing games. I found they took things too seriously and couldn’t handle losing.
Together we watch an old black and white series of Doctor Who, (11 Doctors to be featured over 11 months) even though he was scared of the Daleks and their weird voices when he was a child. In the series, Daleks are cyborgs made from their original forms, extraterrestrial Kaleds from the planet Skaro, genetically modified and integrated within a robotic shell.
Platform shoes, glitter on the face, arched fringes, and poppy guitar solos – the Glam Rock days seem like a dream.
Blockbuster on the turn-table
SCATTERING THE ASHES
where summer shadows stroke the earth birds sing and so do we /k
today sunshine closely follows the rain /b
now soaking now drying...the laundry on the line /t
smiling as she tenderly wraps her baby /m
forgotten in the attic the teddy bear hasn't grown /v
dusty harvest moon interrupts the spiders /b
crying as my glasses sink into the deep water /b
tiny shiny moons on each kitchen knife /v
here lies a witch's wig made of shredded black stockings /m
one long hair flutters in her dreamcatcher /k
in gentle water colour hues she paints cherry blossom /m
new life emerges from the morning mist /t
through bare branches
MOON ON THE SEA
moon on the sea blankets the sand
“a seagull’s shadow across the moon”
on the beach below a Brocken moon
the night reflected on a paper moon
warmer away the cresting waves
out of the sea the moon breaks over us
stars in your eyes moon in your hair
a hermit crab caught in moonlight
hand in hand towards the neon moon
translucent blue moon our martini
I fell asleep to rain pounding the roof. The hollowness of the room is a drum echo, an internal, second skin, holding wet explosions in deep-throated resonance. It was silent when first light hit the room and I knew the forecast: snow. Sunrise stretched into thin colors across the horizon. A stark wind pushed tendril ghosts of snow toward the rising sun. Sacrifice them. Cirrus clouds scrape pastel fetters from the rising moon, peach drained of juice, teal without the ocean, pink when the maiden no longer blushes.
“The universe hates a void.” Sorry, you prosaic prattlers, but the universe loves a void, many voids, lacunae everywhere. The universe is void for God’s sake and for that matter God appears to be a void as well. We are all hollow bubbles, floating in the center of our own being, seeing our reflections on the inner surface. We are making god in our own image.
There is nothing to receive this passion. It just spills onto the ground, the space between us, your receding shadow; it fills clouds and dissipates across the land. Rain becomes river and soaks deep into the earth. It just flows. I don’t have to worry about it coming back to me, because it won’t. There is no mirror, no chalice, no shared wine, perhaps there is only pissing under the stars.
long thirsty hike
I was nearly fifty when I finally realized I did not have the power to make any one love me. No matter how hard I tried to be good, or what I thought was being good, no available action bought me love. I could make a situation a bit more pleasant, but I could not get the other person to love me – usually the opposite happened! The harder I tried the faster came the rejection.
curling in a ball
Unconditional love. Sometimes it floats up and out toward a child, a mate, or friend. Other times one has to work at it. Pulling away the briars, untangling the ivy, digging out the weeds. In old age, no longer chasing after hearts, yet the spirit longs to give and take love. To keep the muscle toned and active, I have at times, given myself the task of learning to love the person who I hate the most. Taking weeks, or years, the job continues and my circle of love takes in someone new.
setting a trap
Take me to the mountains, deep within the folds of the earth, that collect in a rumpled mass below the high peaks of granite bones. There, where the edge of the earth scrapes against the sky, clouds gather a moist friction, swirling against infinity. I am calling those clouds to fill the basin to which you have brought me. The soft fleece obscures the sun, then lets it burn through again, only long enough to heat my skin.
By returning the body, our dust, we are finally able to inhabit both sky and earth together. Gone is the longing to soar. That need to lift up, be our greater illuminated selves. We can be there! To be where our old bodies no longer can go. To be with everyone at once. That freedom, once so lightly taken, contains one last hurdle. Unthinkingly. Changing day by day. Dying.
Why are used condoms such icky things? Basically they have an excellent purpose and I think all of us should be glad to see and know that someone was kind enough, cautious enough, caring enough, to use it. It seems to me finding one should be an instant of joy and thanksgiving for the person who demonstrated such marvelous attributes. But still. . .
om the black hole
out of focus
There we lie suspended between the aging trunks of aspens, hanging in the balance, caught in the web of hammock that presses our bodies into one cocoon. The webs and roots, sun rays splintered by the moving leaves wind us into a deep and dreamless sleep, fold our bodies into one another and knit the seams with our own breath.
a daisy chain
We drove all day going straight from Moab to Flagstaff with literally only one left turn onto Hwy 89. Grateful to be a passenger, I watch the distant hills and clouds change shape and color: At the point of the horizon, it takes a sharp eye today to distinguish where the light blue hills and mountains obscured by sky end and the dark bodies of clouds emerge. Tonight I lie awake and stare into the darkness at a horizon I cannot see and I feel myself continually trying to distinguish between clouds and land, illusions, simple possible futures, and the lay of the land.
My feelings move like shadows from the late afternoon sun, filling the drainages and valleys below Castle Rock. That shadow creeps into my smile, as you turn me around to look at you. It seeps from my eyes as tears. You hold me close and ask in a soft voice if we can just enjoy each other now. No promises, no future and not even much of a past, but as I hold your bare chest to mine, the late sun stretches our shadows across the ravine and we land on the slopes of Castle Rock as lovers, wrapped in a light sweat and the last heat of one autumn day.
In the garden of Leo the Lion. That’s where I go when I need to get out of the people world. Just off the path to the left there is a tree with a large crack in it – a split big enough for me to slip through. Inside the tree the amethyst crystals surround me as if I have stepped into the center of a person-high geode. On the other side is a small hole opening to green grass. On my hands and knees I wiggle through the elastic membrane. There before me is a wide sunny meadow. On the far side is a stream but I am always most interested in what is standing before me. A real full-grown lion. My power animal.
another full year
I know it is against renga rules to write of death in the last links but just today I learned of another death. My high school social studies teacher – Robert Strahm. Subject of my girlish crushes, light of my days, and instructor for life. The news of his death in the last days of December brings to 17 – the number of persons whose deaths have touched me deeply in the past year. Person by person I move to the other side.
he loves me not
If love is the greatest good we can have on this earth and if no good is ever lost, then persons who have had many loves are the greatest containers of good. Think of canned peaches. Remember marigolds. Invest in people not gold. The take home doggie bag of one book was the idea that one should find some good in each day and make sure you are part of it. What else is there to do today?
Date started: January 23, 2013
Clear water rushes in, scattering shells and crabs on the dark crust of shore and I watch as a little girl chases the wave into stillness. It returns, frosted with foam like meringue. She turns and beckons to me. I try to say, “Come back”, but the rush of waves smothers my words and I panic for a moment or two, but then the girl runs off to make a castle with her brother. On the sand lies a conch shell, its coral-coloured ear turned towards the ocean, collecting secrets only a child can hear.
each the same
The containers washed up a couple of days ago; there are still eight or ten on the beach. Whilst I amble, tractors with trailers full of sacks of milk powder grunt past. Piles of broken pallets are stacked every hundred metres or so above the tide line. A young man on a quad bike speeds up and down between the various container sites. They've made a gash through the dunes so the containers can reach the crane which sits on the back of a truck in a parking area; another truck stands by.
Some of the containers are mangled, others fully intact and with about the capacity of a small house. Rangers stand in front of the beached hulks 'guarding' them as hundreds of people mill about, often almost getting in the way. The tractor doesn't even slow down when it comes through with its next load.
Two excavators loosen a container from the sand that keeps sucking them in as the sea washes around. The young man from the quad bike stands in water up to his neck in front of the excavators and dives under with chains to attach to the bulk. Two bulldozers, one in front, one behind then push and pull the wreck up the beach. When it's well clear of the waves; they detach as soon as possible and head upwind to the next beached cargo. The excavators are already on their way, and so is the crowd, as if heading for the fair.
instead of checking
At the far end of the beach are steps cut into the rock that lead to a pathway over the cliffs. Sunlight falls on pohutukawa and nikau palms. Bush and more bush inland shrouds the slopes. From here there is a panoramic view across the bay to the devastation below. Days later a band of volunteers armed with buckets and shovels help clean up pockets of tarry oil and rubbish and rescue distressed birds.
at the centre of chaos fluorescent jackets
clenching his teeth
I was to go kayaking today but don't feel up to it; crashed yesterday after a busy week, missed a family birthday and need to rest. We would have been on the water on this still day. The delicacies of grey in the clouds first thing were myriad. I don't feel like going out much any more, entertainment, even music, has ceased to be entertaining
Now fog is coming from the head to the pasture; it will soon be hard to see the channel. It's raining. Flocks of birds pass in and out of sight.
Saturday morning -
OF A FEATHER
Haiga by Máire Morrissey-Cummins
AN AUTUMN JUNICHO
LOST & FOUND
A SIDE OF DRIZZLE
Haiga by Anne-Dore and Wolfgang Beutke
BLAUE SCHIMMER - BLUE SHIMMER
SCATTERING THE ASHES
MOON ON THE SEA
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Next Lynx is scheduled for October 1, 2013.
Send to: Werner@WernerReichhold.com