Change

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Change

Summer walks along the garden path,
imprinting its footprints of flowers.

Green dreams wander the wind-lisped
grass with its multitudinous tongues.

Bright birds toll the morning bells
and announce a midsummer madness.

Occupational therapy, this forced feeding:
a million beaks and bellies nurtured.

All too soon, the shortening of days,
fall’s stealthy approach, the long trip home.

The moon will then swing its winter lantern.
Orion, dog at heel, will hunt his star-frosted sky.

Crows, those eternal survivors, will take salt
and the occasional meal from icy roads.

Comment:

It’s cloudy this morning and there is a chill in the air. The rowan berries are a bright yellow-turning-rapidly-to-orange. The crab apples are little red faces peering from laden tree and branch. The whole world has a sense of imminent change. Winter is never far away and the fear of frost-on-high-ground is always upon us.

Mysterious Mist

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Mysterious Mist

Mysterious mist,
how I have missed you
wrapping and unwrapping
your gifts of seashore and sand.

So delicate, your will o’the wisp touch,
your fingers dampening my curls,
a delicacy of delight your butterfly kiss
laid upon forehead and cheek.

A distorting mirror in a circus
or a sideshow at the fair,
you twist things round your little fingers,
complicating our simple lives,
shape-changing them with dreams
and visions conjured from thin air.

Now you are here again, in my garden.
I welcome your presence among the trees,
your spirit enveloping the bees’ balm,
your crowning gift, soft-toned cone-flowers
where Monarch butterflies drift and reign.

Words

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Words

Waxing gibbous:
gibberish to most, or jabberwocky.
How now the moonraker
dragging the village pond for gold,
or the witch on her ducking-stool
accepted by God if she drowns,
but burned alive if she survives
and the Omnipotent rejects her?

Words rise and fall like trout to flies.
In words, out words, taboo words,
code words, the ebb and flow words
that see conversational tides
rising and falling, waning gibbous
beneath a failing lexicon, sacrificed
at the altar of barbaric speech to appease
the new gods and falsify the old:
nuance, shades of meaning, language,
meta-language, para-language,
raised, a supercilious eyebrow,
that lip curled in the snort of a sneer.

Rain

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Rain

Parched, the dry brown grass,
taut the earth, tighter than a drum.
Footsteps echo a rhythmic, hollow sound:
marimba music with death tones.
No joy in the barefoot beat of heel and toe.

For months now, no rain has fallen.
The fire crackle is feared in the forest.
Elsewhere, trees catch and the woodlots blaze.
What good are showers, dry thunder clouds,
building, always building, but never releasing
the surging tide that this commonwealth needs?

We yearn for a thick blanket of cloud to gift us
with the long, slow soak of an English spring.
The grass speaks out with its many tongues,
each as sharp as a blade, and calls for rain,
for liquid to pour down from the sky and end
the dryness of drought. We need to fill the wells,
to let the streams overflow with the bounty of water.
We need the green, green grass: not this baked,
bare, arid crunch and crumble of taut brown earth.

Dreams

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Dreams

Sometimes, when we dream
there is neither time nor space:
all things are ever before us.

That child’s swing in the orchard
suspended from the apple tree,
primroses and bluebells
at the garden’s edge, delicate
their dance in morning’s light.

That old woman in the kitchen,
humming her morning hymn
as she bakes the breakfast bread.
That old man in the evening,
scything weed and dry grass.

Time’s fragility dwells ever
in our bones, not our minds.
Though dreams fade fast
with morning’s light, our day-
dreams will rule the day,
and we can still dream
those other dreams, at night.

Bird Flu

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Bird Flu

Silent the mountain ash
burdened beneath berries
burnished from yellow
to orange but where are
the birds who bounce
and chirrup and chirp
silent now their domain
the bird flu gripping
at fountain and feeder
and stilled their voices
gone their brightness
banished from this garden
that suffers now in silence
butterflies adorn the cones
and bees bumble in bees’ balm
but where oh where have
our beloved birds gone
chickadee and phoebe
sparrow and goldfinch
robin blue jay and nuthatch
gone gone gone all gone
and only the family of crows
young and old croak on and on

Return to KIRA: Thursday Thoughts

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Return to KIRA
Thursday Thoughts
27 July 2017

“You cannot step in the same river twice,” according to Heraclitus. And he was perfectly correct. Yesterday I returned to KIRA. But it wasn’t the same. How could it have been?

Geoff, Hanna, and Cherry met me at the door. Geoff shook my hand, Hanna gave me a big hug, and Cherry pushed her wet nose into my crotch. Some things don’t change and one of them is a favorite doggy’s greeting. Mary sat at her desk just inside the door and she got a big hug too.

One Small Corner, the book that I wrote while at KIRA in June was in my hand. I had a signed copy for each of them. They also had a present for Clare and I: lunch at the Garden Café, courtesy of KIRA and a trip there on KIRA’s latest acquisition, a new golf cart, driven by Hanna. We were early for our lunch booking and Geoff suggested a quick tour of the gardens since Clare hadn’t seen them.

We all climbed into the Golf Cart, Mary and Hanna in front, and Geoff, Clare and I on the back seat, looking back as KIRA slowly vanished behind us. Another quote: “History,” said Marshall Macluhan, “is like looking at the past through the rear-view mirror of a rapidly advancing car.” This is a wonderful metaphor for my feelings at the time.

I had just met the young lady who had inherited my room, the Red Room, and my studio, #1. Neither the room nor the studio belonged to me anymore. They were now closed spaces, occupied by another. It didn’t hurt. It didn’t drive a spear through my still suffering heart. It did, however, underline that the waters of the stream had moved on and were not the same.

The gardens had changed too. Gone were the splendiferous rhododendrons of June, present were the multitudinous colors of Late July. The tiniest alpaca, born just before I left at the end of June, was now a sturdy one month old, larger and much more self-contained. Moe was a month older too as he sat on the roof of his shelter and nickered away at the world in general. Our lunch table was reserved for 12:30 and we would see them all later, parading on the lawn.

The gardens were fuller now than they were in June: more flowers, more blossoms, more color, more people, more children, more hazards for Hanna to slow for as we made our way back to the Garden Café, past the Sensitivity Garden and the Therapy Garden, past the Labyrinth and the Maze, past the Dutch Windmill, past all those magnificent sculptures … new sculptures had appeared … the blue piano wasn’t there earlier … this month’s artist had erected a new piece in the Secret Garden … change was all around me … and I viewed it from the backward-facing seat of a slowly advancing Golf Cart.

We had lunch in the shade beneath the apple tree. I looked around for Carlos, certain that he and his shadow were both close by … but I could hear no pipes. I spoke to Clare in Spanish, just to hear that language once again, but Carlos still didn’t appear. How could he? The river had flowed on and he was back with his family in Brazil.

Friends dropped in at the table to chat: Brad, Tim, Stefan, Mikah …lunch came and went speeded on by reminiscences and plans. After lunch, we visited the exhibition put on in the Garden Café by the latest group of resident artists. We admired the pencil drawings, loved the paper-maker and her art, and were wowed by the rug hooking and the photographs …

I thought of our own exhibition, held in the same place in June. We had our paintings, courtesy of Anne and Ruby, our sculptures, thanks to Elise, but the silence of July’s exhibition had been broken by the sounds of Carlos’s pipes and the viva voce reading of my own poetry. We were not a silent group, but a noisy, head-banging, drum-beating, piping, singing set of selfie-videophiles … the river had flowed on.

Ghosts of our voices clung to the back porch when we returned to KIRA. Hanna and Mary returned to their duties. Geoff, too, had things to accomplish. We met with two more of the new resident artists and complimented them on their skills. Then we slipped silently away to join the river of traffic that flowed down Water Street and up and away and back again to Island View.

Yes, I enjoyed myself. Yes, I will return again in August for I have promised to do that. But each trip will be different and no two trips will ever be the same, for old man river … well …he just keeps flowing along …

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Lupins

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Kingsbrae 22.2
22 June 2017

Lupins

To dwell here
is to build
cloud castles
or castles
in Spain.

High-ramparted,
the clouds,
sky-sheep
wind-driven
across a blue field.

Here,
no sound but the breeze
rippling the pond,
leaving soft footsteps
as its cat’s paw
bats at trailing branches.

Lupins,
in bank and ditch,
sway to the wind’s soft voice.
Toe-tapping, head tossing,
they play a jazz and blues concert
to a chorus of yellow bells.

 

Water Tower

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Kingsbrae 19.3
19 June 2017

Water Tower
(for Geoff)

Asked where he got the material
for his plays, Molière said:
“Je le prends où je le trouve,”
“I take it from wherever I find it.”

Here, before the water tower,
I find the tower to be a ground
level water tank, no tower at all.

The first steel band, the horizon,
is composed of yellow lilies.
Above them, the Kingsbrae Café shares
the second band with the gardens’ windmill.

Twin pointed roofs and the windmill’s
thin sails reach up to the skyline
with its background of trees
silhouetted against an egg-shell sky.

Art is in the eye of the beholder
or the artist and can be seen
wherever it can be found.

 

This Old Man

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Kingsbrae 16.1
16 June 2017

This Old Man

This old man, with his bundle of memories
carried on his back like a snail carries his shell,
a broken record, he played, with the gramophone needle
stuck in a groove and the same tales repeated.

The ancient  mariner who lives in his brain
stops people in the street and retells
the old story: life’s doldrums where
no winds blew and his ship just drifted,
with no wind to bring it home.

Then blew the wind of change, and suddenly
the sun was just as warm as it was in his youth.
The sea became blue again.  Flowers flourished
brighter, stronger. Birds chirped in the trees.
Light grew bright and he felt beauty return to
the new-born world of his second childhood.

Comment: My journal tells me that I wrote the original version of this poem on Friday, 21 April 2017, and posted it to my blog on Sunday, 23 April 2017 . Today’s rewrite changes the structure and tone of the poem and illustrates how time and place can influence any previously generated word sequence. For time and place we can also substitute attitude and change of heart, as Ludwig Wittgenstein suggests. More important, perhaps, our attitude and outlook can change with the weather and the state of our digestion. This is the same poem, then, written by the same person, on two different days. Or was it the same person? My stay at this residency would suggest that perhaps the person has changed along with his attitude, his outlook, his digestion, and the weather.