Sunday, September 26, 2010

Daylight Saving

for Pam & R O'N-D

I do the dutiful thing
and turn my clocks forward
- or back - but then I conjure up
an extra twelve minutes, nudge them in
to fatten the middle of the hour,
giving myself a little extra
Time to play with.

I am rebel. Thief.

A friend and I agree that Time
and second hands should be tied
behind the backs of doors, banished
bound with flat faces pressed
to the corner. We flip Time around
our wrists, make it lie down. I tell her
I once knew a clock with eyes
instead of hands. It kept watch
from a clean white mantlepiece
in a honey-coloured room.

We listen for chimes outside
the window and when the wind blows
in the right direction, hear Time trip
down the cathedral steps and take
to the streets.

We are tempted to wave as it passes.

CB 2002

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Poem - Full Circle


The end, we like to say, is also the beginning.
Charged with certainty and uncertainty 
we must each day face the page undaunted
by the endless possibilities of colour. 
This has always been the way; find the truths 
a parent cannot teach, the presence and purpose 
of chaos, the sense and nonsense of order. 
Nothing and no one is ours to own and so
to lose or keep. The blood and breath of life
ensure we go on turning, reinventing meaning 
from inside a full circle. 


For more Tuesday Poems, please click here

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Respite time

Signage on an old door - Dunedin's industrial precinct, 2010

This isn't the image I'd intended to post this evening, but each time I look at this photograph, I appreciate it again for the metaphors it contains. I especially love the way the glass on this sign (whose sole task it  is to shield the printed instruction - ALL ENQUIRIES TO OFFICE - from the elements) has not only invited the weather in but taken the opportunity to use our local dirt and rain as drawing materials. Instead of looking past a boring old notice, we find ourselves being invited to peer into a mysterious - and daily evolving - landscape. 


I'm going to be away from home for a wee while (a few days, a week; possibly longer - am not yet sure. Much will depend on the 'weather'.). I'm thinking of leaving my computer behind (a big challenge for me).

Be safe. Play plenty. Let's all rest at least as much as we work each day and laugh more than we cry. We all seem to be saying a similar thing - challenging times, these. The presence of grit and rain suggests a new landscape-in-the-making. We do what we must; enter and walk, one day at at time. . . xo 


PS. I recently started putting together a new blog as an adjunct to my October exhibition. The title of the show is the blog address - Both blog and exhibition are still very much 'works in progress' but I invite you to have a look-see at what's there so far. Thanks. Back soon - C. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Poem - Big Wind


Where were the greenhouses going,
Lunging into the lashing
Wind driving water
So far down the river
All the faucets stopped?—
So we drained the manure-machine
For the steam plant,
Pumping the stale mixture
Into the rusty boilers,
Watching the pressure gauge
Waver over to red,
As the seams hissed
And the live steam
Drove to the far
End of the rose-house,
Where the worst wind was,
Creaking the cypress window-frames,
Cracking so much thin glass
We stayed all night,
Stuffing the holes with burlap;
But she rode it out,
That old rose-house,
She hove into the teeth of it,
The core and pith of that ugly storm,
Ploughing with her stiff prow,
Bucking into the wind-waves
That broke over the whole of her,
Flailing her sides with spray,
Flinging long strings of wet across the roof-top,
Finally veering, wearing themselves out, merely
Whistling thinly under the wind-vents;
She sailed until the calm morning,
Carrying her full cargo of roses.

Theodore Roethke

For more Tuesday Poems, please visit the TP hub 
where this week's editor is Jeffrey Paporoa Holman.  

I chose Theodore Roethke's Big Wind for today primarily for the resilience and hope expressed in these six lines. . .

But she rode it out, 
That old rose-house,
She hove into the teeth of it, 

The core and pith of that ugly storm. . .

. . . she sailed until the calm morning,
Carrying her full cargo of roses.'

Our Christchurch community continues to be at the forefront of our thoughts.  Hambani kahle. (Go safely. Go well. Zulu)


Later. . . I'd like to acknowledge Mary McCallum (curator of the Tuesday Poem initiative) today and to thank her for the tenderness, zeal and humanity she brings to our blogging community. Her poem EARTH leaves us with a sense that what's been broken will again become whole... US poets, VesperSparrow and T. Clear endorse this message. I haven't got round all the TPs yet, but know there'll be many additional resonances... 

Together, we find the words we need to make sense of our world? 

Today, it seems to me we're building a composite; a communal poem composed of many parts. Everyone's turned in the same direction and with the best intention; thank you all.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Portrait - actually, two



These found objects - Lady Hare and Ms. Prickly* - pretty much sum me up today. 

How are you? 

* Please feel free to use this as a title for your next novel, poem, children's storybook, painting, song. . . ; )

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The sea offers up orange

One of my favourite beaches, Aramoana - 'gateway to the sea' - is about half an hour's drive from my front door. I walk there often. Each time I go there, the ocean expresses a different side of her personality. Perhaps my perception is affected by whether I'm alone or with someone, what mood I'm in or who it is I might be walking with. Whatever it is, there's something about the ocean that has me imagining we're in conversation together; we take turns to reveal something new about each other each time we meet. 

Several months ago, I drew a circle in my diary around two weeks in September. Earlier in the year, my very dear old (though not so in age!) Cape Town friend, Nan, expressed a full-hearted wish to come to Dunedin. We agreed to hold the idea in light hands, since life is full and unpredictable, but I wanted to make sure that whatever happened, she and I would have an uncluttered, undistracted time together should she go ahead and decide to buy an air ticket. Well, she did! She's here! Sharing time, space and new/old friendships with her in this place I love is deep joy.

Yesterday, we went for a walk out at Aramoana (Nan in the bright orange windproof jacket her daughter bought her specially for this trip). 

It was a moody day; the sea, not exactly tempestuous so much as agitated, as though she's doing what she must to shake off the energy of Saturday's earthquake (there was another unnervingly big jolt - 5.6 - yesterday morning)...

I really don't know what we can do over distance to be of practical help to our friends up in Christchurch but one of my strongest impulses is to turn to the Earth, not away from her. It seems to me that times like these call us to more nurture - to nurture more. Each other. And the Earth. Perhaps if we all put our hands into her soil, dig and plant and express our appreciation of her, she - mother earth - will feel affirmed, valued, tended. Perhaps it will help her settle back down? When someone we love - brother, sister, friend, child, parent - is in the grip of trauma or a violent seizure, is not our instinct is to hold them, to stroke their forehead, to speak soothing, loving words to them? We want to be in physical contact, to reassure them this too will pass, that everything will be alright, calm will be restored? Apparently the plants Rue and Witch Hazel have healing properties that would nourish both the planter and the 'plantee'? (Rue is considered an effective antispasmodic; Witch Hazel helps with bleeding and reduces swelling in knotty veins.) I don't know... am thinking aloud here. 

The passage down to the beach has elements of a birth canal... a walk over tussock-covered dunes, through a narrow gap then out onto a whole other landscape. As if she knew a lovely woman in  an orange jacket would be visiting her for the first time that day, the sea offered up a collection of beautiful orange treasures. . .     

On our way back to the car, the sea's signature - also in orange. . . kelp script, written casually onto the flank of a dune.

~~~ I'm sorry I've not left many comments on your blogs over the past few days. I've been reading your posts - your wonderful, enlivening posts - but I just haven't had a lot of words to put out. Thanks for popping in here. Your presence means a lot. I'll be out and about more soon. xx ~~~

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tuesday Poem - Eggs

   for Penelope and Raymond

Our neighbours carry eggs across the hedge
on birthdays; one egg wrapped in lemon tissue 
paper with crimson spirals and a raffia twist; 
two in a navy-blue nest with floral wallpaper,
the date inscribed on blunt horizons in gold; 
once there were six, mismatched, 
in a plain beige egg box. 

I know the chooks by name; they wake me
in the morning, help keep our weeds down
and on adventurous days stray beyond 
the grass to the driveway where they find 
the tyres on our car fascinating. I admire
their dismissive attitude towards our cats. 
They strut and cluck and at end of each day
lay eggs the colours of my children's skin - 
a grand and fragile achievement. 


Given the uncertain world our friends in Christchurch - considered by many to be the heart centre of our country - are waking to these mornings, I didn't know what to choose for TP today. In the end I settled on this simple poem that speaks in plainest terms of the gift of community; of neighbourly exchange, love expressed in small gestures of kindness, the miracle of ordinary, everyday things. 


For more Tuesday Poems, please visit the hub where poet Zireaux has posted a marvelous 'journey' titled The Poet as Absent-minded Neuroscientist: The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin & Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. 

Monday, September 06, 2010

All thoughts turned

It's wild and storming outside. I should be asleep.

All thoughts are turned to the community in Christchurch.

The writing desk in my bedroom faces due East. The sun comes up over Harbour Cone, a distinctive, breast-shaped mountain that was once a volcano. I took this photograph in the early hours of yesterday morning, not long after the tremors and before the day 'proper' had begun.  

People are connecting up to facilitate the recovery process and are otherwise keeping watch; there's a sense of an ongoing vigil.

Kindle a flame to lighten the dark and keep all fears away - John L. Bell & Graham Maule for the Iona Community, Scotland

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Magnitude 7.1 Quake - SOUTH ISLAND, NZ

At 4.37AM this morning, people in Dunedin were shaken out of sleep by earth tremors. An earthquake had just struck Christchurch, its epicentre the small harbour-side town of Lyttleton, 30kms South of the city. (Dunedin is 320km - 200 miles - South of Christchurch.) The quake was shallow - just 10kms deep - which is apparently an extra concern. Tsunamis are possible 100km North and South along the coast. All I know at this stage is that the people I've been able to make contact with are safe. Large parts of Christchurch are without power, sewerage, phone lines and/or running water... Please say your prayers (or your versions of prayers) for those being affected in this very moment. Thank you. And take care all. Take best care. xx


Web Update  - There's been extensive damage to buildings, but - thankfully, thankfully - few reports of serious injury and no loss of life. 

Friday, September 03, 2010

Suns & Sombreros

The Sombrero Galaxy - 28 million light years from Earth - was recently voted best picture taken by the Hubble telescope. The dimensions of the galaxy, officially called M104, are as spectacular as its appearance. It has 800 billion suns and is 50,000 light years across

Several weeks ago, my friend Martha sent me a batch of mind-dazzling images taken by the Hubble telescope. I rediscovered them today and forwarded this one to Penelope and Pam.  Penelope was a wee bit bashful when I asked her if I could post her response here, but she found words where I had none... 

"I was going to suggest we wear our sombreros to work today but ... 800 BILLION suns!!! Who on earth are WE? What tiny scraps of knowledge we possess and what might be waiting to blow our minds if we opened them — creak, creak . . .

I'm never sure how to respond to images such as these - they're both out of this world and every part of it. It's like peering into the DNA of the universe. What do we do when we're offered a glimpse like this? What does it stir in us? It takes me back to childhood when I'd spend night after night lying on my back in the dark pondering the deep and infinite sky. I had no words for my thoughts and feelings then and I have none now.   Is such beauty overwhelming, terrifying or comforting? I'm not sure. Perhaps it a bit of each and more. All I know is that I tend to lose my voice in the face of such spectacles, not least at the reminder that phenomena such as the Sombrero Galaxy really are out there - the scale and mystery of it all. 

(PS. Is it just me or is something weird going on with Blogger? The formatting bar metamorphosed into something sleeker and sexier during the night and I for one am having difficulty finding my way around this fancy new model. Heavens, just how fast do we have to run to keep up with all this super-duper high-tech stuff!)


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

After a long sleep

Lucy's Peony paintbrushes


Angel(a)'s eyelashes - I mean, Hellebore stamens

Soft-hearted succulents shaped to break a raindrop's fall