Monday, January 31, 2011

A River of Stones: January 31

I followed a trail of small stones through January, and I have run out of stones. Today, I only had time to gather breadcrumbs. And at the end of the trail of breadcrumbs, I found these two fine creatures, swimming on the river near my home.

(By the time I stopped the car and got out my camera, they had come up on the bank. Probably hoping to be fed).

So, no carefully polished words today. Perhaps the geese gobbled the breadcrumbs up?

For A River of Stones

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A River of Stones: January 30

A snail has left
his running stitch of silver thread
in long looping trails
on my path.

For A River of Stones

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A River of Stones: January 29

Reflections rearrange the world
a bookcase in the trees
a window in the sky

For A River of Stones

Friday, January 28, 2011

A River of Stones: January 28

Motorway construction site -
dust blows off the steep banks
long grass at the foot,
the white umbels of Queen Anne's Lace
dancing in the wind.

For A River of Stones

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A River of Stones: January 27

Almost dark.
Shining white daisies
tumble down the riverbank
towards their reflections -
waiting for the moon.

For A River of Stones

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A River of Stones: January 26

Outside my window
a reversing truck beeps
a duck quacks
who needs an alarm clock?

For A River of Stones

...The first sounds I heard as I woke this morning.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A River of Stones: January 25

The pied shag is perched
on a tangle of driftwood
in the river
his wings outstretched
like my high school teachers
flapping down the corridors
in their long black gowns.

for A River of Stones

The bird known as a shag in New Zealand is known in many other countries as a cormorant. Because they have no oil in their feathers, they spend a lot of time with their wings stretched out to dry in the sun. (What they do on wet days, I'm not quite sure). We see them often by the river near our house.
I don't think teachers wear their academic gowns much these days, but when I was at high school, they were worn not only at assemblies but also in the class room. My mother, who was a teacher, said that it was a very good protection against chalk dust. Of course, these days, with whiteboards and whiteboard markers, that is probably not a consideration.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Patterns by Amy Lowell

A few years back I was talking about the various things I have been interested and involved in over the years, and I was asked about their diversity. They included maths, science, quilt making, and poetry - and more recently, genealogy. I wasn't able to give an intelligent answer immediately, but then it came to me that what they have in common is patterns. I belive that it is a love of patterns that is one of my strongest reasons for an interest in all these varied areas.

Amy Lowell's poem "Patterns" intrigued me for that reason - it draws in at least two of my interests, textiles and poetry - but it also looks at the darker side of patterns. This poem is found in my old standby, the Collins Albatross Book of Verse, which was first published in 1933. My edition is dated 1960.


I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the plashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover,
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon --
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
"Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se'nnight."
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
"Any answer, Madam," said my footman.
"No," I told him.
"See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer."
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, "It shall be as you have said."
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down,
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

Amy Lowell 1874-1925

for Tuesday Poem

A River of Stones: January 24

A cat sits on the railing
and glares down
at the empty birdbath

For A River of Stones

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A River of Stones: January 23

Acrobats -
above the stage
a butterfly flits and twirls

For A River of Stones

The buskers are in town.
Every January, for just over a week, Christchurch hosts the World Buskers Festival. Unfortunately, since I work during the day, I can't catch the acts during the week - they take place mostly between 11 am and 5 pm. (There are night time performances too, but they are more formalised - stage shows indoors - I like the atmosphere of the street acts). And as I don't work in the city, that rules out lunchtime viewing, too. But I did take half an hour or so between weekend chores to catch a bit of the fun. I haven't checked up on my photos yet, will do so tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A River of Stones: January 22

A lit room
Windows at opposite ends
Reflections of reflections

For A River of Stones

A Giveaway

Juliet at Craftygreenpoet posted an offer on her blog - leave a comment and she would send a handmade gift to the first five who commented.

The only catch is that you have to pass the offer on. And I, rashly perhaps, signed up.

So, for the first five commenters here, I am offering a handmade gift, sometime in 2011. You do of course have to agree to the same condition - make the same offer on your own blog. (I need a bit of time to make them!) I have a pdf book of small quilting projects on my computer, and I'm itching to try some of them out. Who's up for it?

Friday, January 21, 2011

A River of Stones: January 21

Outside my office window
a composition in circles and lines
Grey and black cars angle parked
A row of rear wheels
Rain falling vertically
onto the asphalt.

For A River of Stones

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A River of Stones: January 20

The Christmas tree is bare
Red and gold baubles packed in boxes
A mug of candy canes on the table

For A River of Stones


I was feeling particularly like slacking off today after being rudely woken at 6 am by a strong aftershock, which went on for some time. It was our fifth strongest since September 4th. And then we had about eight or nine more during the morning, one of them quite jolting.

I grew up in Wellington where mild shakes from time to time were normal. Apart from the six o'clock one, none of the others would have bothered me, coming singly. But when they go on and on, they do get rather tiresome to say the least.

When it came to it though, noticing one small detail each day seems to have become a habit. Perhaps even one that I will continue after the month is finished. It would be a shame to miss a day, having made3 it this far through the month.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A River of Stones: January 19

The joggers circle the park in twos
like the animals lining up
to enter the Ark

For A River of Stones

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Young Woman Marries the Farmer's Son, by Marisa Capetta

young woman marries the farmer's son

your first voice is the moon
suspended in billows
of red dam water

courtship brushes silent
black beetles from the hem
of my white cotton skirt

kiss me in summer hay paddocks
in a fox scented dawn,
on gravel roads along
barbed wire fences

white silk organza is stained
by glass bees our vows
are door frames in eroded mud
walls unroofed by a siege

of bougainvillea our vows are carved
in the flesh of small windfall apricots
and fit whole in our mouths

© Marisa Capetta 2010

Marisa Capetta is a Christchurch jewellery designer and poet. She was born in Rome and has lived in the USA and New Zealand.

Marisa read this poem towards the end of last year at one of the gapfiller events. Gapfiller is an organisation aiming to make creative use of the many blank spaces in our city where earthquake damaged buildings have been demolished. I was happy to read recently that they have received some City Council funding, so that they will be able to have more events.

I was captivated by Marisa's mysterious and lush use of language in this poem.

For Tuesday Poem.

A River of Stones: January 18

The only things bouncing
on the trampoline
are raindrops.
They skitter sideways,
silver on the black surface.

For A River of Stones

Monday, January 17, 2011

A River of Stones: January 17

My green waste is fragrant
with the smell of rosemary prunings
and bruised plums.

For A River of Stones

(And I can still smell the rosemary on my hands, even after washing - lovely!)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A River of Stones: January 16

Ripe plums scattered on the grass
A cat picks her way across,
stops to fix me with her steady gaze.

For A River of Stones

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A River of Stones: January 15

He wraps the sparrow in a cloth
to keep it still
snips the netting carefully
from its foot
proves big hands
can be both strong
and gentle.

For A River of Stones

Friday, January 14, 2011

A River of Stones: January 14

In Cashel St a girl is selling cherries
from a table on the pavement.
Three men in fluorescent vests
stand and point at a broken parapet.
A family passes by a row of closed shops:
"This is what it will be like in Brisbane"
the mother says.

For A River of Stones

I was surprised this morning to discover that a number of shops in town are still closed, not from the September 4 earthquake but from the Boxing Day aftershock. These shops look quite modern from street level, but stand back and gaze up - they are actually old brick and masonry buildings, and the cracks are showing.
It was a beautiful sunny day. In Brisbane, besides closed shops, there will be water and mud. If I was given the choice between the earthquake we had here, and the massive flooding they are having in Queensland (rain since November 30th, I gather), I think I would take the earthquake.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A River of Stones: January 13

A sparrow hovers for a second
in a blur of wings
stationary above the water carafe.

For A River of Stones

I had a very intense day learning new computer systems at work, but over my lunch break, spent at a nearby cafe and garden centre with outdoor tables, I had an opportunity to watch the local bird life on the lookout for crumbs.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A River of Stones: January 12

The two stacks of shipping pallets
grow a little taller each day.
They lean into each other
like lovers.

For A River of Stones

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A River of Stones: January 11

Two plump pigeons sit
on the parapet of a red brick building
surveying the traffic
like two opera going ladies
sitting in the best box seats.

For A River of Stones - a project to post one "small stone", a moment of careful observation, each day during January.

I am having a very busy week at work, so this will also have to serve as my post for Tuesday Poem. Is it a poem? Maybe, maybe not.

Over at the main Tuesday Poem site, Mary McCallum has written about Harvey McQueen who died on Christmas Day, and posted his poem Reading Janet Frame. It's worth a visit, for Harvey's gentle thoughtful poem, and for the other Tuesday poets, listed in the side bar there.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A River of Stones: January 10

Buttons spread out
like pebbles on a beach -
searching for matching sets

For A River of Stones

(I was going to take a photo to go with this one, but I didn't get around to it. I bought a big bag of buttons very cheaply, taking a chance on finding enough the same for the shirt I'm making, instead of buying the more expensive carded buttons).

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A River of Stones: January 9

A metal tree bearing strange fruit: a pile of bright hats on the tip of each branch.

For A River of Stones

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A River of Stones: January 8

The exoskeleton of a small bronze beetle gleams among the breadcrumbs on my kitchen bench.

For A River of Stones

(It was a grass grub beetle. It probably laid its eggs, so that the larvae could chew up the roots of my lawn, before it flew inside through the open back door and died there. If I don't think about that though, it was very beautiful.)

Friday, January 07, 2011

A River of Stones: January 7

Performing in my garden this morning - a Swan Lake of white tutued mushrooms in corps de ballet clusters.

(I'm not sure how to spell tutued. I guess that's what happens when you try to make a verb out of a word that really isn't)

For A River of Stones

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A River of Stones: January 6

He passes by on the footpath, hair a crest of spikes, like the stalks in the flowerbed behind him.


For A River of Stones

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A River of Stones: January 5

Signs hang on the safety fence
in front of quake damaged buildings
- "Chemist Open"
- "Footpath Closed"


I was struck by the slightly contradictory nature of these two particular signs today.

For A River of Stones

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A River of Stones: January 4

Their footprints crossed paths in the sand, but they never met.

For A River of Stones

I went to the beach this morning. Of all the possible observations to contribute for my "small stone" today, this one seemed most appropriate, in view of the news of the death of one of my Tuesday Poem colleagues, Harvey McQueen. I haven't been participating in Tuesday Poem very long, but through it, I came across Harvey's blog, full of thoughtful, considered posts. I will miss them.

Harvey's wife Anne has written the last post on his blog, Stoatspring. And there is a short tribute on the Tuesday Poem hub, to be followed by a longer one tomorrow.

Monday, January 03, 2011

A River of Stones: January 3

A petal drops -
reveals a dead bee
in the heart of the dying flower

For A River of Stones

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A River of Stones : January 2

The lines between the paving stones make a jigsaw of my shadow.


For A River of Stones

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A River of Stones: January 1

The last of the Christmas cherries lie shrivelled in the bottom of the bowl.


For an explanation of "a river of stones", go here