Signs

Watchful, I spy the first buds,
now only the flower's potential,
one day, soon - the fruit.

Impatient, I come here
again, again each day
to measure progress in the budding leaf

or to catch
the lemon in the act of ripening,
quince in mid-blossom,
almond in leaf.

Wait, small heart.
It lingers; wait.
The signs are sure
though August is fickle and eyes are sore.
And God has granted each beauty its day;
rest your eyes on this
today.

Tidings

Listen: the almond has something white to announce...
(Chris Wallace-Crabbe)

Tiny white heralds like angels burst
from coronawinter barren branch,
whispering, echoing, promising.

Listen:

The time is slow
but gives glimpses.
The promise is faint
but continual.
The season's sure
that waits in the whispers.
Truer than winter, truer than spring:
the eternal soon.

Pruning

Against expectation, this
Spartan clipping makes spring flourish more,
this cutting back to bones,
to bare knobbly knuckles makes
growth more abundant when it comes.

And so we bear
the naked cruelty of these bare days,
knowing
against all experience,
trusting against
barren winter feeling,
enduring against
the buckling in our bones that wants to fall.

Bone Winter

Reduced to its skeleton, the tree
remembers days of birds in bowers,
leaves atwitter,
branches bent with the weight of fruit,
and now bent with the wait of days
when flourishing's a memory.

But still the soil nurtures.
Still the roots draw deep and branches
in their stasis grow in strength.
Still rosehips bud where flowers did
and the eagle,
grace in his pinions,
takes twigs and plants them
atop His rising hill.

Son of man,
speak to the bones.
Speak to the longing marrowed in bones.
Speak more than the mere promise of seasons:
speak deep to the riddles of blood and bone earth.
Son of man,
shall these bones live?

The Long Ordinary

Winter sets in,
rubs his damp feet all through the laundry,
wipes his everwet hair with each handtowel,
breathes ice on my windscreen,
cries soggy complaints on my feet.

And somewhere we are lost
between fire and candle, lost
in the long, slow ordinary that yawns
in between.
Days blink; you miss the moment
of daylight, the chance
to dry out and be.

Only blessing
spans the gap between
now and the length of days you long for,
creeping up to you
in beggar's clothes,
with a leper's lips and the nagging
daily reminder
that you are caught in finitude, built
to stretch in timelessness,
bound by time, to give of time,
to bide time, to abide.

The sun shines on Wyndham

The Antarctic wakes us with its morning missive blowing.
Swaddled and bubbling, children shiver across the road.
Crossing guard, I open my smile,
bouncing frozen legs to warm them.
To cross the road like a child, I
must race and look not to the side.
What winter brings will soon be known;
the sun still shares the sky.

The Long Drizzle

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote…
(Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales)

Finally
the clothes are dry,
the air is dry,
the leaves fall in their way.

Finally
April ends with such crispness
and we emerge,
knowledge of winter on the edges of skin
yet our bodies relieved from this dampness.

Follow, southern pilgrim.
The road leads to shivers, then flowers, then shivers.
Yet there will be a season
for laundry drying
and coffees on the lawn,
and a season when all the pilgrims of Canterbury
and Melbourne will dance
in the unendingness of sun.

image

Late Winter

I fought against the wind and, though I won,

It threw its debris all about the place,

Tossed hair asunder, tug-of-warred my face

And left me with a sense of being stung.

The wind did battle with the joys of sun,

Though still the early spring bore marks of grace

And, pulled this way and that, I caught the trace

Of hope which nonetheless had surely sprung.

While now I may be caught in gusts which fling

My fickle self wherever wind may blow

(And in my mind a battle may still fare

Though all the gales have settled), still I know

The smell of spring when it enters the air

And feel firm rock beneath in everything.

Nocturne

Dance the night amidst the mist and

hover cloud above the earth;

sing the streets in silent vigil,

sleep the world aright.

 

Water soil, the dew of nighttime,

watch the sleeping grasses grow;

let the nocturne song surround you

as you come and go.

 

Rain falls on the just and unjust;

nighttime falls on both.

Woken by the same song’s sunshine,

lift us both to grace.