Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Everything In Time

              EVERYTHING IN TIME
                      (orOne way to dispose of a failed painting)    

                      The day the passionfruit ripened, she decided 
                      it was time to free the waterfall. For years 
                      she’d kept it hanging – all rage and thunder
                      bolted to the wall, one foot two inches
                      above her rimu floor.  She’d ignored the water 
                      protesting behind glass, turned her back 
                      against the rocks, denied the plight of moss 
                      and lichen suffocating inside
                      their conservation-friendly environment.

             Wood pigeons had long since flown
             or fallen from branch to ground, wings 
             of feather and bone turned to compost, 
             cicadas petrified, mid-crawl. 

             There was no more air in there, 
             nothing left for birdsong or insect flight, 
                                                            only brittle spray
                                                                                  in mid-air        


                                                                                      It was time.
                                                                                She let it loose
                                                            over the claw-footed bath
                                                                        watched the weathered schist
                                                                                loosen its grip
                                   and with loud splitting and splashing
                                                            drench the thirsty spears
                                                                                         of lancewoods, ferns
                                                        and ancient cabbage trees.
                                                                             From the corner of her eye
                                                        she swore she spotted eels
                                                                             where there’d been no eels
                                                                                    before. If you’d arrived
                                                                                      at the house just then
                                                               you, too, might have caught them 
                                                              clambering over the cast-iron rim
                                                                     making a bee-line for the mud
                                                                        in her freshly soaked garden.


For more Tuesday Poems, please click on the quill. Dunedin-based poet David Howard is this week's TP hub editor, with the poem Cloud Silence by Graham Linsay


  1. This is gorgeous, Claire, absolutely stunning. In the mind it runs like a slow-motion film, on a loop, which can play over and over to the joy of the reader. And the very real and deeply seen details of the natural world--marvelous that living things could be trapped inside a framed, glassed painting (the mind of the poet/painter?) and that a soul sensitive to the cycles of organism could dream of setting them free from her creation, into the world from which she has captured them. Lovely, lovely. M.

  2. I loved the shape, like a painting in itself, that must have been pretty tricky to get right on blogger.

  3. This is wonderfully surreal - water escaping from painting to bath and beyond - and so wonderfully achieved. And behind it the whispered story of the poem's protagonist needing to escape too...

  4. So many novelists fret over that opening sentence. I wonder how many poets do? I mention this because it was those opening two lines that hooked me. Personally I’m big on punch lines and so tend to neglect my openings but this is a great reminder not to. Took three readings to get into it but it grew on me. The central concept is wonderful and I agree with AJ, it must have been a bugger to format for online so well done.

  5. I love the sense of magic realism that allows the poem to work on both the concrete and metaphorical level--of course, now I want to see what the painting looked like before it was released to the wild!

  6. Beautiful Claire - loved the shape!

  7. Claire, this poem fills me with wonder and joy. I've read it over and over and every time it is more of a marvel.

  8. Really loved this CB! wonderfully evocative and a powerful antidote for the times one strays into annual retentiveness! LET IT GO!
    (and like Helen L found myself trying to picture the pre-release version, even checking my 09 photos, but to no avail!)

    Stephen G

  9. I could just picture this in my mind, the painting escaping back into the wild - lovely.

  10. The poem is so vivid that, for a moment, this literal mind was thinking assemblage? terrarium? knowing it was a painting. Pieces of one's own soul caught behind glass, do we do that with our work? A painting, a photo, a way of stopping time...can we then set the clock running again? xo