Silent Roads

Silent Roads
(Virus Crisis)

limpid morning
liquid noon
falling stars and
swelling moon

roaming foxes
flitting bats
passing faces
passing steps

Red houseboats amongst lush trees and blossoming meadows.real colours
newborn light
flowing hours
breathing tide

sweeping herons
floating boats
swelling meadows
silent roads

real flavour
real sound
real labour
on the ground

nimble hands and
muddy boots
curling vines and
twisting roots

real treasures
on your spade
real colours
on your plate

Tall tomb with urn on top, tilting, on old cemetery.real paper
flowing ink
time to wake and
time to think

time to sleep and
time to slow
time to weep and
time to grow

time to rise and
to rejoice
time to hoist your
real voice

Christina Egan © 2020


While London closed down to protect itself from the 2020 coronavirus, I was cut off from my job and from the internet for a while. (This blog ran on as pre-scheduled.)

I was very fortunate to spend many hours outdoors, working in my garden or walking under the countless trees and along the hidden rivers of London, and through the suburban roads, cleared at last of traffic and crowds. Spring brought splendid sunshine, as if it were already high summer.

There was time. There was air. There was life. For many who were not ill or caring for those who were ill, this must have been one of the best times of their life.


Tottenham Marshes / Tottenham Cemetery. Photographs: Christina Egan © 2020.

Pluck the Day / This Silvery Sound

Pluck the Day

Large flat flower in white and purple, with long purple stem, small orange fruit, shiny green leaves.Save time! Save time!
Spend time! Sell time!
Pile time, file time!
Fill time, kill time!

Live time…
leave time…
give time…
weave time.

Close-up of poppy flower with dew or rain on it, above other red, orange, purple, and white flowers.Pluck the hour,
pluck the day,
golden-green or
silver-grey.

Pluck time…
peel time…
suck time…
feel time.

Christina Egan © 2009


This Silvery Sound

This silvery, surging, curling sound:
the whispering leaves
of the urban trees…
O listen, O listen and look around:
the silvery greens
like a dream of the seas…
And fading away as soon as found.

Christina Egan © 2018

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2016.

Gedächtnisgarten zu Tottenham

Gedächtnisgarten zu Tottenham

Wie Sternennebel
schweben die schneeweißen Büsche
im Nachtgrün am Rande des Parks,
und aus dem sattschwarzen Grunde
ruft ihrer mehr herauf
das funkelnde Zepter des Mondes,
als lebte der Amsel Perlengesang
das Dunkel hindurch.

Wie übergroße Urwaldblüten
liegen in Schlaf geschmiegt
die silbernen Gänse,
erfroren geglaubte Träume
verlorengegebener Kraft.
Der Duft von überallher
ist schwer, er wiegt,
er ist wirklich.

Die Rinnen der Inschrift
im Granit des Gartentors
füllen sich langsam mit Sinn:
Garten des Friedens.

Christina Egan © 2006

High brick wall with inscription 'Garden of Peace'; iron gate with lawn and palm-trees behind.

Memorial Garden, Tottenham Cemetery. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2013.

Bloomsbury, on the Ides of May

Bloomsbury, on the Ides of May

I will remember: it was on the Ides of May,
the light was lingering late, still bright behind
the fading curtains of clouds, ready to burst
into colourful banners; so were the buds in the parks.
Short were the shades of the columns and those of the crowds
ceaselessly weaving around the corners of concrete.
I will remember the weary assembly of tombstones,
too weathered to count as a witness, the lime-green life
pushing out from the cracks, the benches eager for laughter,
Edge of tomb, with weeds outside and insidethe birds’ unheeded, untiring, Vespers to God.
See: I lay down the unspoken secret in verse.

Christina Egan © 2007

 

 

Photograph (taken in Tottenham
in July): Christina Egan © 2013.

Blütenschnee / The Opposite of Snow

Du bist der Blütenschnee

Du bist der Blütenschnee,
du bist die Blütengischt,
die Blütengalaxie,
die mir das Glück verspricht,
die mir das Glück versprüht,–
die Frühlingssymphonie,
die nimmermehr verblüht…
Du funkelst mehr denn je!

Christina Egan © 2018


The Opposite of Snow

This sweet and heavy blossom,
white with a golden glimmer,
an incandescent glow…
Its sweet and heavy scent,
like gingerbread in summer –
the opposite of snow!

Christina Egan © 2018


The first poem compares blossom to snow, the second declares it the opposite of snow. Both could be a description of a beloved person: delightful or even delicious like gingerbread…

The End of Lent

Sext
(Midday prayer)

Amidst a day of darkness,
amidst a life of fight,
the pillars and the organ
build up a vault of light.

Somebody must be present
to hear the silent screams!
There’s help past understanding,
there’s hope beyond all dreams.

But where do you keep hiding?
O Lord, who has left whom?
Dispense a drop of mercy
on each of us this noon.

Christina Egan © 1998


The End of Lent

There’s more to life behind the troubled scene,
more light than mighty, timeless words can mean:
there is a truth that never lies,
a truth that fills the earth
with fragrant breath.

There’s more than we can fathom and esteem,
or ask for, seek for, need, desire, dream:
there is a love that never dies,
a love that will give birth
in very death.

Christina Egan © 1999

Children of the sun and moon

Children of the sun and moon

When we drift through ink-blue dusk
under the twigs of moon-white blossom,
under the crystal orbs of street-lamps,
under the shadeless signals of neon,

when we slide across concrete squares
and sail around sharp and rounded corners,
restless and vigorous, at home in the dark,
at home in the city, nocturnal birds,

we know deep down that we are still
children of the sun and moon:
the sun must rise in our eyes,
the moon must rise in our brain;

we must admit that we are still
children of the earth and sky:
the spring must rise in our bones,
the stars must rise in our veins.

Christina Egan © 2016

Window Seat

Window Seat

You beat me to the window seat,
Silhouette of man against tall window with curtains.the secret poets’ nest;
you watched the broad and busy street,
a highway on your quest.

You beat me to the poets’ prize,
without a rhyme or form:
you saw the faces floating by
in the approaching storm,

you caught the litter and the leaves,
the puddles and the birds
and strung them as bizarre bright beads
on your vibrating verse.

Christina Egan © 2019


The poem has its origin in a coffee bar in a busy high street in London. It was published in the Tottenham Community Press (print issue of December 2018).


The elusive poet in a window seat. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2017.

Curling Up

Curling Up

I’m curling up
against the cold
against the world

its random roar
its lazy contempt
its glacial loneliness

Buds and fresh leaves on top of shoots above a parkI’m curling up
with the sky in my mind
and the sun in my heart

around a seed
already unfurling
and then: uncurling

Christina Egan © 2014

 

I am at Home in the Darkness

I.

I am at home in the darkness.
At least, dreams shine more brightly here,
lanterns among phantoms,
gold grains in the drifting sand.

Only my dreams
are real,
are true.

II.Passionflower with bee, colours inverted to create psychedelic purple structure.

All those who wish to die
crave for life, life, lost
in this cavern of wandering shades,
crazed by the thirst for a garden.

Only those who wish to die
are aware,
are alive.

Christina Egan © 2014

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2014 / 2016.


I assume that very, very often when someone feels they want to die or are about to die, they are simply physically unwell — or simply overtired — or simply literally in the dark. If this insight informed our science and our society, we could manage our lives so much better.

The date these three poems were written is significant: it was mid-February, which is when I (like everyone in the northern hemisphere) feels the dark and cold most bitterly, because halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox, the various reserves of our bodies are dangerously low. From late February on, things get better, and this is not a mental phenomenon (little flowers can, after all, not cure leaden fatigue) but a physical fact.

am kalten kamin / Winter Sunset

am kalten kamin

die eingerahmten flammen
von süßer sonnenkraft
sinken in sich zusammen
in kalter mitternacht

das feuer das dich blendet
in wildem geisterglanz
hat sich zuletzt verschwendet
zu tode sich getanzt

eh noch der morgen graute
liegt ausgelaugt der herd
und über deinem haupte
hängt sichtbar nun das schwert

Christina Egan © 2017


Winter Sunset

If only I could fly
across the icy sky
into the dying sun,
so all my tears,
my wants and fears
and wanderings would be none.

If only I could fall
into the fiery ball
and warm and melt away,
and then be shot,
a sparkling dot,
into a new-born day.

Christina Egan © 2003


Image: No title. René Halkett (1938). Image with kind permission of Galerie Klaus Spermann.