Category Archives: poetry

Hands – my own; my inheritance

In my hands, I see,
Father, Mother, Me.

( Trinity by Gallivanta 2015 )

Hands – my own; my inheritance.

'I am my own long hands And their live touch of you.'    Pair by Paul Engle 1908-1991

‘I am my own long hands
And their live touch of you.’
Pair by Paul Engle 1908-1991

Eternal in us as ancestral-wrought Curve of our thigh and the gripped shape of hands.' Earth in our Blood by Paul Engle 1908-1991

Eternal in us as ancestral-wrought
Curve of our thigh and the gripped shape of hands.’
Earth in our Blood by Paul Engle 1908-1991

This post, and the poem, Trinity, are dedicated to Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales , and to Marylin at Things I want to tell my mother . Both Marylin and Brenda  recently urged me to have a go at writing a poem. Trinity is the result. 🙂

This post is also dedicated to the poetic muse of my blog, William Blake. ( I am sure he will be pleased to know. 😉 )

Photo-poem, based on a quote from Blake’s Auguries of Innocence.

© silkannthreades

Hands

Hands.

I love them,

Paul Engle "Paul Engle" by Source. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Paul Engle" href="//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paul_Engle.jpg">Fair use via Wikipedia.

Paul Engle “Paul Engle” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

especially helping hands,

 

‘Don’t wait for the wind to blow you through the door,
If you need help, here is my hand, I said.’
( Moving In by Paul Engle, 1908-1991)

creating words to hold the soul.

‘..We live by no mind that is only reason,
For there are in us strengths older than thought –
Memory of moon-earthed seeds, the treason
Of spring in our hearts, old family-named corn lands –
Eternal in us as ancestral-wrought
Curve of our thigh and the gripped shape of hands.’

( Earth in our Blood by Paul Engle, 1908-1991)

Curve and shape of hand

Curve and shape of hand, hold the soul.

This post is dedicated to Linda at  The Task at Hand, and to all those bloggers who pursue the craft of the wordsmith.

'..........I  said your hand Was curved like wave-marks on the sand.' Lost Things by Paul Engle 1908-1991

‘……….I said your hand
Was curved like wave-marks on the sand.’ Lost Things by Paul Engle 1908-1991

 

© silkannthreades

Lilts

Star-God burns afar
sparkles rata into flame
cicadas chatter
calling time on berries ripe
O Te Waru Haere Mai

February 2nd ~ Groundhog Day, Candlemas, Imbolc, First Fruits, Lean Time, Te Waru, Lammas,  Lugnasad ~ by whatever name we know it, the underpinning story is the same. The earth is sifting seasons. Do you hear its trickled lilt?  What does it sing to you?

Chilean Guavas: New Zealand Cranberries

Calling time on berries ripe

This post was inspired by Juliet Batten’s book Celebrating the Southern Seasons ~ Rituals for Aotearoa,  and Earthbornliving’s blog, Nona Hora, the Ninth Hour.

The Star-God is Rehua (Antares). Te Waru is the eighth month of the Maori calendar.  For more information on our southern seasons, read Juliet’s beautiful post on Lugnasad here.

© silkannthreades

Of an evening

Jasmine and sweet rose
linger long on waning light
summer’s parting bliss

Jasmine and Sweet Rose

Jasmine and Sweet Rose

linger long on waning light

linger long on waning light

summer's parting bliss

summer’s parting bliss

When I posted my evening photos on Facebook, many people seemed  to prefer this one

Of an evening ~in full colour

Of an evening ~in full colour

to the black and white.

I was intrigued.

Sometimes my days are so saturated with colour, I need the lullaby of black and white.

 

© silkannthreades

Radiating Kindness

My interest in decluttering was flagging.  Alys, at Gardening Nirvana, who is a professional organiser in RL,  offered some timely, kindly advice. “Set a timer, ” she said, “and go all out for 15 minutes or so, and see how much you can get done.”  So I did. Yesterday. Worked like a charm. I raced through a heap of files, containing documents dating back to the 1990s, some of which, ( oh irony of ironies ), related to a storage facility I once used in New York!

Sigh of bliss…. so satisfactory !  to achieve so much in so short a period. And not only did I declutter, but I also discovered, tucked away in a corner of a shelf, a small  Helen Exley giftbook , called Words on Kindness.

It’s the dearest wee book, full of wonderful quotes. Several of them I greeted like old friends. Others were as new, to me, because I had forgotten them completely. Many of them moved me deeply.  The quote I have open before me today is this:

Even as a mother
protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all
living beings;
Radiating kindness
over the entire world.
The Buddha ( c 563 – c 483 B.C. )

A painting, Mother and Child, by Edgar Degas, illustrates the text. I cannot find a link to that painting.  Instead, I have selected this painting by Mary Cassatt who worked closely with, and was influenced by, Degas.

Mary Cassat "Mary Cassatt, 1902, Reine Lefebre and Margot before a Window" by Mary Cassatt - [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg

Mary Cassatt “Mary Cassatt, 1902, Reine Lefebre and Margot before a Window” by Mary Cassatt – [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mary_Cassatt,_1902,_Reine_Lefebre_and_Margot_before_a_Window.jpg

As I read Words on Kindness, in another part of the world, far, far from me, a champion of mothers and children, a champion of kind words and deeds, was celebrating her 91st birthday. I am referring to the remarkable  Dr Catherine Hamlin, co-founder, with her husband Dr Reg Hamlin, of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.  Dr Catherine, has spent more than half a century living in Ethiopia, serving some of the most marginalised women in the world.

” In the 1950s Catherine and her late husband Reg went to Ethiopia to train midwives, but their attention soon turned to the plight of the fistula sufferers.

Together the Hamlins perfected the modern technique for obstetric fistula surgery and
 have treated more than 40,000 women, more than 90% of them cured.”

– See more at: http://hamlin.org.au/#sthash.QyWleIWz.dpuf

An award winner documentary,  A Walk to Beautiful, was made about the fistula patients, and the life-changing care given at the Fistula Centres in Ethiopia.

 

More about the work of the Fistula Hospital and Dr Hamlin can be seen  here. It is a difficult, even harrowing, video to watch but it is ultimately a testament to the transformational nature of compassion and  radiating kindness.

If I can stop one heart
from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life
the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Emily Dickinson (1830 -1886)

Radiating gazania; like kindness it spreads.

Radiating gazania; like kindness it spreads.

© silkannthreades

Ring out the old, ring in the new

This time last week I was in tropical Far North Queensland with my parents and my siblings. We were gathering round the Manger, at my sister’s home,

Old Manger New Setting

Old Manger, New Setting

preparing to celebrate Christmas as of old. There was warmth in the air, in our hearts, and in the prolific poinciana glowing near the front door.

The Christmas spirit in a tree

The Christmas spirit in a tree

This week I am home again, in cooler Christchurch. My house seems too large and too empty, but the quiet stillness gives me time to prepare for the New Year. I fill the vases with the flowers that have bloomed in my absence.

There are flowers for the kitchen window sill,

Cornflowers, lavender and nasturtium for the kitchen

Cornflowers, lavender and nasturtium for the kitchen

 

flowers for the bedroom,

Roses, nasturtium and geranium to ring in the New Year

Roses, nasturtium and geranium to ring in the New Year

and some for the table, too.

 

Around the silence of the blooms, there travels bird song without, and words within…..

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind….

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land….

 

“Ring Out, Wild Bells” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1850 ).

And with bells ringing, there comes music swelling into the emptiness of the rooms.

 

Let the old go, let the new come. Welcome the year with unburdened, open arms. Greet it with love and warmth and the expectation that it will be good  (but not necessarily easy). Know that with kindness and hugs you will have the fortitude to do your best. As it always has been and always will be.

All hugs welcome here.

All hugs welcome here.

If you would like a gentle blessing to ease out the night, I would suggest  listening with me to Benedictus by Karl Jenkins.

 

© silkannthreades

 

 

Advent mysteries

As I make my way through Advent,

What mysteries will manifest this Advent?

What mysteries will manifest this Advent?

an unexpected, personal Advent calendar mysteriously opens up before me.

It is a calendar that comes in the form of box or drawer that daily reveals, from the depths of clutter, long forgotten wonders and joys,

like this poem I wrote, for our church magazine, not long after our arrival in New Zealand.

The Strangers’ Christmas

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to catch the warmth
of the midnight candles,
tightly held and sheltered,
in our tent of strangers.

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to hold the guns
of strangers standing,
as black-robed angels,
cornered to our circled light.

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to loose the star
of the warm, sweet babe,
delivered to Mary, carefully cradled,
in the stable of strangers.

Dark outside is the winter sky,
a strange, foreshadowing sky
to gather the ages
of then and now,
and the light that is the warmth,
within the lives of strangers.

The poem is a reflection on a Christmas Eve service in Maadi, Cairo,  in the late 1990s, during a time of terrorism and tension.  I am trying to capture the peculiarity of the lovely warmth of a service celebrating the “The Prince of Peace”, yet taking place under the protection of armed soldiers and police. Like Mary, we, too, were all strangers far from home, full of joy, but also anxious about the world to come.

The service, organised by the Maadi Community Church was held in a tent attached to the St John the Baptist church in Maadi.

Both churches continue to offer fellowship, a home away from home,  and solace to strangers, to this day, and seem to be thriving.  St John’s was established in 1931. Throughout the Second World War it served troops from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Paton, Harold Gear, 1919-2010. Brigadier Kenneth MacCormick and Mrs MacCormick leaving the church after the marriage ceremony, Egypt. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-02075-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23112562

Paton, Harold Gear, 1919-2010. Brigadier Kenneth MacCormick and Mrs MacCormick leaving the church after the marriage ceremony, Egypt. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-02075-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23112562

These days St John’s (Anglican/Episcopal) serves a diverse English-speaking congregation from many different backgrounds, ( Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and Catholics ), and provides worship space to the Maadi Community Church, and Korean, Sudanese, West African, French Reformed, Scandinavian and Egyptian congregations.

In 2006, to commemorate its 75th anniversary, St John’s commissioned artist Debra Balchen to design/make nine stained glass windows focusing on the role of Egypt in the Bible.

Windows by Debra Balchen, commissioned by St John's Church, Maadi, Cairo.

Windows by Debra Balchen, commissioned by St John’s Church, Maadi, Cairo.

I would love to see these special windows in situ. Maybe that is an Advent-ure (thanks for the word, Linda 😉 ) that awaits me.

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

 

A Toast with Thanks

Brace yourselves for some surprising news.

Gallivanta is about to attempt something very difficult …for her….which is to write a simple, straightforward post. Will she succeed? You can be the judge.

Here we go.

My plan is twofold: to give thanks to a kindred blogger; and to propose a toast in her honour.

I want to acknowledge and thank Pauline, The Contented Crafter,  for a beautiful giveaway. Pauline is a multi-media artist, and a devoted companion to the irrepressibly joyful Siddy, and to the stately and  dignified Orlando.  She is a compatriot of mine and she lives in the south of New Zealand. The giveaway was in celebration of a very important birthday for Pauline and the beginning of her official ‘retirvivement.

The giveaway  package arrived,

just before my sudden departure to Cairns at the end of September, which meant I didn’t get to appreciate it fully until my return home at the beginning of this month. And, my goodness, when I opened the parcel, what a spread there was to appreciate. I was overwhelmed by Pauline’s generosity. There were cards, postcards, a bookmark, all lovingly created by her own contented hands and heart,

Contentment

Contentment

The Faces of Contentment

The Faces of Contentment

and sweetest of all were the Bunnies; a pair of handcrafted Hugging Bunnies, which Pauline had knitted in response to my   Happiness in a Bag post.

Kisses and Hugs and Lots of Love and Happiness

Kisses and Hugs and Lots of Love and Happiness

After my harrowing goodbye to aged loved ones, can you imagine the comfort and delight I found in coming home to the fruits of Pauline’s gentle, joyous crafting?

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most space in your heart

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most space in your heart

Now for a toast.

To Pauline; to her continued contentment, the best possible health, and a long and fruitful retirevivement. I raise my cup of chocolate, in my best Bunnykins mug. Please join me with your favourite beverage/tipple. 🙂   Let us be upstanding.  To Pauline!

A Toast to Pauline; chocolate in a Bunnykins mug :)

A Toast to Pauline; hot chocolate in a Bunnykins mug 🙂

With love from Gallivanta and Jack to Pauline, Orlando and Siddy.

Ps. How did I do?  Only two links. That’s pretty good for me, don’t you think? 😉 But perhaps still not that straightforward. Sigh!

 

© silkannthreades

I love to tell a story….honouring a long tradition of story telling through the ages

‘I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.’  ~  ( Katherine Hankey, 1866 )

Dawdling at the kitchen window this morning,

Kitchen reflections

Kitchen reflections

I reflected on the tradition of Sunday story telling that was part of my younger years.  When I was little, the early hours of Sunday morning were filled by listening to Story Time/Children’s Hour on the radio. The same stories were repeated endlessly.  Yet I was not bothered by the repetition. It was good to hear old favourites over and over. Once Story Time and breakfast time were finished, we were shepherded off to Sunday School where, once again, we listened to stories; stories that had been told, and retold, for thousands of years.

We listened to those stories, we acted them out, we coloured them in, and we sang them, too. Remember this one?  Tell me the old, old story.

Thinking about Sundays and stories reminded me that I have a story to tell. It’s not new. You have heard most of it before; it’s tall but true, as well as sweet and ‘pleasant to repeat’.

It goes like this.

In the beginning there was  Britt , of the beautiful smile and the blue beret.

Britt at Oregon Zoo

Britt at Oregon Zoo

Then there was the Book that Britt wrote,

and the Kindle that Gallivanta bought to read the book that Britt wrote,

The challenge of a new style of reading

The challenge of a new style of reading

which turned out to be a game changer in Gallivanta’s life, and prompted her to be a little sassy and issue a playful challenge to Britt, of the beautiful smile and the blue beret. The challenge:  to locate a totem pole by Chief Lelooska somewhere in Portland, the  replica of which  stood 7,000 miles away, here, at Christchurch Airport, in New Zealand.

 

And Britt, being much like one of the determined women in her Book, took up Gallivanta’s challenge and, with a few choice words like “Gallivanta, you stinker”,  went on a Totem Pole Quest in Portland, Oregon.

Was she successful? You bet. For two months Britt quested and queried and questioned and, finally, she  found Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole, recently restored and reinstalled, at Oregon Zoo. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

Chief Lelooska's Totem Pole, Oregon Zoo, Portland, 2014

Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole, Oregon Zoo, Portland, 2014

The End, but not quite…..if you would like to read more about Britt’s Totem Pole quest and the story of the Totem Pole itself, click here and follow the links.

Story telling over, it’s back to more dawdling for me,

Gather round little blossoms and listen to my tales

Gather round little blossoms and listen to my tales

and wondering why the little yellow flower of the sharp tasting rocket is so sweetly scented. Must be a story in that. 🙂

By the way, for the child in all of us, don’t forget that Story Time is still  a regular feature on Radio New Zealand.  Have a listen.

Endnote:

The photos of Britt at the Zoo and of Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole at the Oregon Zoo are used with kind permission from Britt. Please do not copy  or use them without her consent.

© silkannthreades

The Night is Black

At this time of the year millions around the world are preparing for the triduum of  Allhallowtide, which encompasses All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. For many the preparations will include stocking up on candles for the rituals and  traditions that involve candlelight.

Millions more have begun another celebration, today, which also requires light; light to vanquish darkness and evil and despair. This celebration is the annual, five-day  festival of  lights, namely,  Diwali.

Having grown up in Fiji, where Diwali has long been an honoured occasion (and now a public holiday), I have a love for Diwali which outstrips any affection I have for Allhallowtide.   Seeing the houses decorated with beautiful Diwali lights was a yearly highlight of my childhood.

So, this week, in accordance with  my family’s customs,  I will light a Diwali candle (candles if I can find more than one).

Light a candle

Light a candle

I will listen again to the gentle singing words of Rabindranath Tagore’s Invocation to Diwali 

and consider the significance of Diwali, so eloquently expressed here:  “The night is black. Kindle the lamp of love with thy life and devotion.” (Rabindranath  Tagore)

Until night falls, however, I will keep watch with the dear, little lights that are ever present , and need no darkness to make them shine.

Little Charlie, a  new  (de) light  to brighten our lives

Little Charlie, a new (de) light to brighten our lives

 

Candelabra

Candelabra; shining light on the shadows

And, if I can organize myself sufficiently well, I may even make a special sweet treat for Diwali;  a rhubarb and apple crumble with freshly picked rhubarb from my garden.

Join me, if you will, in lighting a candle, for the night is black, and we need all the light we can get. Happy Diwali and may the light of the lamp burn brightly in all our hearts.

© silkannthreades