FOR ROSE ..by John Parsons (UK)
A small procession winds from the walled garden, past high laurel hedges towards the woodland that she loved. I only knew her for a short while. We usually met at private views, occasionally in the shops of the small coast town, or, once or twice, as two heads bobbing in the sea.
…filtered sun ..alive
After recuperating from a minor breakdown, she’d asked me to help fix up her small studio in the town. We laughed a lot, improvised curtains to cover up junk, sloshed paint about, drank wine. Facets of her hidden personality emerged. A slightly wicked sense of humour, compassion, lightness, a love of colour. Unwanted visitors arrived, slightly drunk, she handled them with kindness and love, gently ushering them on their way.
her ashes …wind
………..in our direction
Her death was sudden and unexpected. We’d seen just before on a county lane near our house, and stopped for a chat. A sunny day full of promise, two cars parked side by side, swallows shrilling overhead.
suspended in shade
…each pin point of light
Now, after the funeral, amongst the trees she loved, a few Friends holding hands. We stand silent but for the sound of birds, holding her gently, linking thoughts.
in hazel ..quivering
….a flat web …..holds
…………………a film of ash
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS ..by Bamboo Shoot [D J Peel] (U.K.)
I’m not given to superstition or unsupported flights of imagination, but not so long ago, I had a strange experience, the details of which greatly amused my friends. Even now, the story still gains me much-need status in chance conversation.
At a rather grand poetry festival, a well-known poet had recounted to us how, one day, he had opened the morning paper to see his own name spread across the front page in stark block capitals: ANTHONY THWAITE. Much intrigued, he had prepared his breakfast and returned to find the headline now saying ANTHRAX THREAT. Imagine my surprise then, when, only days later, the same trick was played on me.
I was sitting quietly in an almost empty reception area of the eye-clinic at my local hospital. To my left was a large reception desk, between which and the swing doors to my right, a young nurse was scurrying to and fro carrying files and forms; sometimes equipment. And on the desk was a large notice which said I’M GOING MAD. Well, after she had passed me for the umpteenth time, I couldn’t resist. ‘I’m not surprised’, I said.
She paused, ‘Pardon?’
‘I said, I’m not surprised’…and I smiled to reassure her of my normality.
She frowned as if perplexed; and when she next appeared, she stopped,
‘What were you on about?’
I smiled again, ‘Sorry, I just said that I’m not surprised, really…about your going mad’‘, and I pointed to the notice, which now read INCOMING MAIL…
Is it any wonder that our long gone ancestors sometimes suspected an infinitely bored God of poking a divine finger into our human affairs? Wasn’t that, after all, why I had raised my eyes, then, in a mix of mock horror and amused embarrassment, to the thin blue shield separating us from that imponderable blackness?
that damned cat again –
it knows me through doubled glass
at 50 yards
AS IF IT DOES SO JUST FOR ME ..by Barbara A Taylor (Australia)
the morning star
in a puddle
A puncture in the wee hours of the morning when driving back from a party—loud flapping breaks the silence—a barn owl swoops and the sulphur-crested cockatoos take off in the soft blue calm of the dawn. The spare is flat! I lock my car and walk… There’s a great peace in these honeysuckle-scented lanes. My only route is a three-hour trek; limping up hill, down hill, on uphill, winding toward my mountain cabin; past perfumed acres of paulownia and the macadamia orchards drenched with nuts. Brash mauves and violets of escaped bauhinia blaze in the bush. Wallabies crisscross the gravel road, scaring a frill-necked lizard into its frozen stance, head stiff to the sky.
I tell myself
yes I can
I see things I’ve never noticed before when driving this same journey: hidden driveways to concealed houses of invisible people, neighbours keeping away, closeted by high lantana hedges; prancing, scuttling calves, calling forlornly for their mothers, thud down gradient pastures. I meet no human on this journey. Today awakens as if it does so just for me. Lush paddocks brim with birdsong. With every step there’s something new to touch or smell or see. It’s a challenge, this climb, for these old injured legs and feeble feet, but home I go, returning to an avenue of welcoming scarlet hippieastrum, to find a possum on my doorstep, waiting, open-eyed, next to a large brown egg, laid graciously by one of my Chinese silkies, a perfect way to start the day.
across the lawn
UNTITLED ..by Ion Codrescu (Romania)
At the heart of Transylvania, after hiking among mountains and through insect-filled forest, my wife and I find a hamlet with more than a dozen small farms. Each farm has a tiny thatched cottage, a barn, and some haystacks, all surrounded by a wooden fence. There are no streets, only paths that wind like a secret calligraphy through the grasses—from one farm to another, from the doors of the cottages to the barnyards, or to the haystacks drying in the sun. Wandering along one of the paths, we meet an old lady, and I ask her permission to take photos. She agrees, and asks me where we are from. Her desire to talk with strangers surprises me. But she says that in the last few days she has talked with only her cat and fowls. She adds that in her eighty years she has gone to a town only once, when she got married. “I am happy here among the mountains,” she says.
She invites us to see her house, which contains traditional wooden furniture and handmade carpets. A dry basil scent floats throughout it. She points to a wall covered by old icons. “Here is the place where I pray,” she says. “This is my church, near this flickering candle. Every Sunday I wear the most beautiful traditional holiday costume, and even though nobody sees me, I feel like I am watched by other people.” In the next few days, Easter will arrive. I imagine the moments the old woman spends in her church, alone and surrounded by isolating mountains, filled with the holy spirit.
motionless sheep –
the clear water
in a rusty bucket