Butterflies

img_0189

Butterflies

butterflies
their ephemeral forms
flutter by
flickering
brief their sweet sway

they spread
paint-daubed
fanciful wings
fan flowers
flourish

eternity
perched briefly
on flowering bees’ balm

robin puffs out
his red breast
hauls down
tomorrow’s sun

white-throat sings
an evening elegy

Comment: 

“Poetry gives permanence to the temporal forms of the self.”
Miguel de Unamuno.

Losing It

IMG_0486

Losing It
Island View

I searched for it everywhere: in the dry, dusty
pages of age-old books, in the spaces, white,
between words, in silences between bird songs,
in grey skies where raindrops formed into clouds,
in the pause between each cat’s paw of wind.

Nothing. I couldn’t find it. This morning
I searched for it in my shaving mirror.
I stirred the shiny film on my breakfast coffee
hunting for it. My Morning Glory lay open
on the operating table of my plate: nothing.

Mourning doves on the feeder called me by name.
The flicker drummed me a soothing rhythm.
I closed my eyes, dreamed of the river rising,
and found myself on an open beach. Homeless
hermit crab, I wandered listless, combing
seaweed, leaving fragile lines, footprints to
bear witness to my presence on this shore,
but as I looked for it, I knew I had lost it.

Comment: 
Forget-me-not. My father’s birthday. He would have been 108. Happy birthday, dad. I’m still wearing your watch.

Eden 1

IMG_0608.JPG

Eden 1
(1956 AD)

wet rags of dirty washing
hang on the Siegfried
line’s barbed wire

flesh rent ripped
broken-glass anger bottled
blood-mottled concrete

bones mixer-crushed
blood sacrifice a keep-safe
ash-cross camouflage
stretched sketched
over grime and crime

heavy the spike-toll
rooted the rock
chips off old blocks
these flint flakes flying

faceless this sphinx
inscrutable smile
where now
sands of the Nile

ample ammunition
beneath this apple tree
flat-footed lame-duck walk
goose-stepped after expulsion

walled this garden
to lock what in
to keep who out

 

IMG_0591 (3).JPG

By Any Other Name

IMG_0296

By Any Other Name
hortus conclusus
(1430-1432 AD)

don’t let them know
your origins your secrets
hide who and what you are
unholy ghosts will prowl
wild dogs will howl

sister-spouse
a garden enclosed
walled behind whose house
anonymous flowers
roses in abundance
set amongst thorns

sealed-up this fountain now
its well run dry
dead leaves in the bowl
shrunken petals
echoes of children’s voices
their faces hidden
among last year’s leaves

IMG_0617.JPG

Ghosts

img_0168

Ghosts
(1431-1463 AD)

galley dance
grisly ghouls
skeletons blowing
white in the wind

rangle jangle tangle
bones like trombones
air-hole pierced
the high thigh
pipe of flute

crows for cronies
jolly roger flag
flapped by black
wing strokes

who-hoo the owl’s
night time chant
will seek mercy
grant forgiveness

wind drops
sighs its secret
bodies tap dancing
their swan song

souls aloft
winging away
on shifting air
no longer care

Poinsettia

img0137_1

 

Poinsettia

     You can sense it, you can feel it, the alert spirit that guards this room. Walk in there at your peril. No, don’t. Just stand at the door and observe the poinsettia. You bought her a real one, a year ago, but she forgot to water it and when you visited, leaves and flowers, had crisped and dried, withered and perished. You even found cigarette butts stubbed into the pot’s powdery earth. You bought her another one, this time an ever-lasting, artificial flower, scarlet blossoms of silk with yellow-dotted plastic beads. Today a feather-duster breeze cleanses and enriches the leaves, replenishing their faded splendor. Motes rise, their dancing angels of dust hovering, suspended in a sunbeam that picks out their supple luxury. Their fiery tongues cry out to you from their green plastic pot in this empty room. The plant throbs with a startling vibrancy in this early morning light that enlivens piano keys, table top, and the polished, wooden chair arms you cleaned yesterday.  The poinsettias seem to wring butterfly hands as they gently flap in the breeze from the open window where thin lace curtains twitch, shaping the sunlight into light and shade. Her ash tray sits by the radiogram and awaits her return. That last cigarette, lipstick staining the filter, stubbed out and cold, waits for a companion. Later today, you will go to the hospital and visit her. You do not want to enter this room for its guardian spirit demands solitude and silence. You do not wish to create a disturbance, yet something moves you, and you walk over to her flower. A film of grey cigarette dust rises once more from the silk poinsettia, disintegrates, and dances before you. You bend your head to the silken surface and feel dry leaves brush their butterfly kiss across your cheek as you breathe in the ashen smell of stale tobacco.

Love me

IMG_0290.JPG

Love me …  love my cat. I think she’s bemused by the sudden smell of all those flowers. She didn’t like the snow yesterday, either. Hands up all those who did. Ah yes, all the students and teachers who had their tenth snow day. No wonder the internet was so crowded all day long. It wasn’t that easy to get on and off but it was so easy to lose the connections. Speaking of connections, yet another circular debate is going round and round the Brexit roundabout in London today. That’s London, England, not London, Ontario. Oh the sea, oh the sea, thank God it still flows between Brexit and me. You’ve got to love it though, especially on St. Valentine’s Day: all those basket cases putting all their eggs into one little Brexit basket. They remind me of a set of Oaxacan donkeys, blinkered and blindfolded, walking round all day in circles, trying to grind the maguey or to draw water from an artesian well (una noria). It’s a thankless task at the best of times, but an incredibly tiring one when there’s a drought and a dearth of clear-thinking and intelligence. Round and round and round they goes, and when they’ll stop, nobody knows. Wow, I’m glad I got that off my chest: now I can enjoy Valentine’s Day with my beloved and my cat. As for Valentine’s Day: say it with flowers.

IMG_0294.JPG

Here are the geranium, a little bit winter-struck, still red-hearted and perky in the post-storm sunshine. I always marvel at how they  settle down, go all green-leafed, then start to blossom again: a miracle of love and kindhearted attention.

IMG_0296.JPG

And here’s Don Quixote keeping vigil just behind the carnations. Oh Brexiteers, he stands on guard for thee. He’s very quiet though. Not sure about anything, except the need to guard the flowers from fear, fire, and foe. He’s a good man, is Alonso Quijano el Bueno. He doesn’t round round in circles and lose sleep over uncounted and uncountable, slaughtered sheep. Speaking of which, the Welsh are campaigning for Welsh Lamb. They do not wish their products to be labelled with the Union Jack, but with the Red Dragon of Wales, Y Draigg Coch Cymraig. I hope I’ve got that right: it’s been so long. Meanwhile, speaking of love, Northern Ireland is talking divorce from the UK and a renewed marriage with the south. Scotland is talking love-talk with the Europeans and muttering about separation (was it really 1606?) from the Union. And Plaid Cymru is once again flexing it’s separation muscles. For how much longer, in the current state of division, will we be able to talk of a United Kingdom? Valentine’s Day: it’s best to be off with the old love before you are on with the new. Yet there’s mucho flirting going on between many possible future partners, even while undying love is being spouted across the various negotiating tables. The Queen of Hearts rules on Valentine’s Day: “Off with their heads!” Oh dear, whatever will the little caterpillar say, let alone Malice in Blunderland?

And the cat came back. Thank heavens. I cannot imagine Valentine’s Day without some flowers, my beloved, the cat, and a great deal of love and understanding. May the joys of red flowers and open hearts (not the surgical kind) be with you this day, and may you find a ray of sunshine to sit in for the rest of what still promises to be a stormy and snow-filled winter.

IMG_0293.JPG