among the living

it was my plan all along to lie down there among the twigs and fallen leaves,
let the forest have me
because there is something in my bones that does not know these days
can’t taste the sunlight or feel vast oceans pulse in the night.
three days now the snail has been sleeping on that leaf through my window,
it is not winter, none of it is making sense
and we can’t and we can’t and we can’t remember
how we came here, how we built these worlds and walls around us
how our lies become our stories and
our stories became stones that paved into roads,
piled into wall and hut and temple. big stories like pillars
holding a roof over our heads so we can’t see the sky
and the stars can’t speak –
a roof to keep the rain from touching our twitch animal skin
lest we remember who we are. we know that we are tired
we know all this will fall like leaves to the forest floor.

it was my plan all along to walk until my feet wanted,
to find a root that curls around my body, a parasol touched with light
and lie down there among the twigs and fallen leaves
and let the forest have me
and if it happens the sky is blue enough to be seen
like a reflection on still water between the trees
or thin pond mist grey wisping on high winds
i will watch dark shadow birds, wing fingers spread to carve sky paths
above the canopy, knowing their backs are feather painted by the sun
and i will untangle the bramble from my hem, pull thorns from my hair
and lie down there among the twigs and fallen leaves
and let the forest have me.
and when black butterflies wake because morning has come slowly
(do they sleep? do they remember in dream life before wings?
if imaginal discs hold potential do they hold memory too?)
when black butterflies wake, turn their folded wings from leaf to flight
to dance hover circles in unexpected shafts of light
i will be there silent stone among the roots of the tree
and the birds might move around me speaking summer voices
like pebbles tapped together underwater –

breaking the surface to gulp laughter instead of air
and you speaking flowers
saying life is nectar
while river salt dried on your skin
and all was fractal and light spilling sweetness
until even the mud between our toes sang of beauty.

and no matter that it passed as summers do,
the river still flows deep dark to the sea without me –
the kingfishers have fledged, skimming their impossible malachite flight
less than a breath above the water.
i love them no less for not seeing them,
not seeing those golden leaves fall turn spin to touch the still surface –
drifting small boat, stem sterns to the ocean.
summer will come again and we will walk once more among the living
reading stories with fluent fingers across their tall bark –
taking breaths so deep they burst shudder from our mouths
that can speak no more than i love you and thank you.

it was my plan all along to come here
to lie among the fallen leaves and twigs of autumn
to give myself to you
breath, blood and bone
again and always
here.

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-25 at 14.20.46

 

april harvest

 

there is nothing
to be said
of what was
or might be
on days like these
when the tang
sweet of summer
leans light into autumn
and fruit hangs full round
on the trees.

 

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-24 at 15.21.30
Tamarillos full ripe on the trees today.

 

 

learning the shape of things

there were big windows, wooden floors
and an indoor quiet that made our ears hum.
it was monday morning
after a favourite uncle’s birthday
on the weekend
i had made him a card
drawn flowers because he like them
copied in my newly acquired hand
Dear Les
HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Love Lindi
it took me most of saturday
each letter a task
down up around and down swish
change colour
around up and back down swish
ended with a flourish
a loop, a flick –
he loved it.

back in the quiet hum of the class
i applied my new skills to the page
finishing a whole row of a’s and m’s
with tails turning up, dotting the i’s with flowers.
time passed in focussed silence
punctuated by the rattle of pencils on desks
and the slow steady click of the minute hand moving.
final flourish on the bottom
of a well pleased page
flower flower
done

after break teacher called me to her desk –
we all loved her
with her golden curls and lipsticked smile.
my book was open on the morning’s work
i nearly crowed with imminent reward
those gold stars we got to wear
on our foreheads.
what is this, she asked
and i oblivious
told her of my uncle les and the birthday card and

no, she said
this is wrong, she said
i don’t ever want to see this again,
understand
i thought they looked nice, i said
and surely even then i should have known better
but it was my first year at school
and i still had much to learn.

i held out my almost six year old hand
on command as i had seen
other children do before
so you remember she said.
turns out the long arm of the law
had painted nails and a gold link bracelet
and knew how to apply a ruler
to the unruly.

back at my desk
i sat on my hand
to cool the burn
i did not cry.

 

gifts

 

sometimes i went with my mother to work
night duty at the old-age home in town
trailing quiet shadow behind her
on the evening round
out to the rooms and through frail care.

there was a woman there
i don’t know her name,
they were all mr and mrs somebody
to a seven year old me,
she was insubstantial
not much more than folds
in her blankets and skin –
but her eyes were alive in that dim quiet room.

she called me over to – beckoning
with long wrists long fingers –
folding my child’s hand in her bones.
at ninety she was the oldest person
i had ever seen and she almost scared me
with those cheekbones and eyebrows and
lank hair that she stuck in wisps
behind her ear.

she said she made it for me
and lifted her hand revealing
a small piece of paper
not quite bookmark size
twining vines with buds and blooms
shaping letters, spelling my name,
i never knew she knew.

i remember, she said,
being your age like it was yesterday –
it still feels the same, she said
meeting my eyes
and for a moment i was not child
and she was not old woman –
we just were.
it is just the body that gets tired, she said
turning those grey eyes toward the drawn curtains
last light of day a gold line across the room.

and then she smiled
craggy and almost broken
and patted my hand with
those bone fingers once more,
asked me to remember her
and of course i do.
like it was yesterday

it still feels same
being rendered visible
where we thought we were
unseen.

 

 

chthōn

it is the simplest thing
to swallow the earth
small seeds
yield green leaves
bright against rich soil –
handfuls of greens fresh chopped
with sharp garlic and moistened with olive oil
spooned generous
onto pasta new rolled and
hung on the elder staff to dry.
it is the simplest thing
to eat the earth
knowing the mud of these bones
that will be earth eaten too.