Water-Lilies and Reed

Water-Lilies and Reed

Waterlilies with half-open luminous pink and white flowers.White water-lilies,
opening with a pink glow,
like eyes of new-borns,
like the dawn rising and
looking at itself in wonder.

*

The reed unfolding,
tall green screen, finely woven,
around green water.
A forest of reed, towering
above ducks, children, yourself.

For Liu Sun Ye

Christina Egan © 2016

Photograph: Liu Sun Ye (Ye Liu) © 2016.

Toys / Baskets / Bowls

Toys

I
scanned
the
scattered shapes
heaped around me and picked out
the flowers and fresh fruits and fleeting clouds filled
with sun and added some slanted squares of marble and slate and
trunks of birch-trees and fashioned my finds into this
spinning-top. Just don’t ask what
it means. It’s a toy
I made for
you !

***

Baskets

The most delicately plaited words
still awkward, thick like things.
Bent over pads of paper,
the poet labours, late,
dexterous, impotent
to convey music,
silence…
peace.

Christina Egan © 2012


Roman_bowl_01_MusLon

Bowls

Like bowls of ordinary wood,
robust, adept, like workers’ tools,
these hands seem empty. Yet they are
filled to the brim, invisibly:
with jewel-like ideas the one,
the other with tranquillity.

Christina Egan © 2012

Roman bowl. Photograph from the
website of the
Museum of London.

Motionless Fire

Motionless Fire
(May Tanka)

Small azalea bush with lurid pink blossom, amongst lush feathery nigella leaves.

 

A motionless fire,
the azalea unfolds, flares,
and slowly burns out.
From the mud it wrestles force,
colour, and returns to mud.

*

 

Small azalea bush with brownish wilted blossom, amongst lush green nigella with feathery leaves and blue flowers.

Pink snowflakes drifting?
Forgotten miracle of
the cherry blossom!
Every spring, the petals sail
into death so serenely…

 

Christina Egan © 2016


 

Photographs: Pink azalea.
Christina Egan © 2016/2017.

Ich fülle das Papier

Ich fülle das Papier

Caterpillar, very bright green, with crumpled leaf and edgy stone on sand.Ich fülle das Papier
mit langen schwarzen Kringeln,
die sich von mir zu dir
wie lauter Raupen ringeln.

In Wörtern schicke ich
mein Lächeln und mein Zwinkern
und jenes Frühlingslicht
gleich hinter meinen Wimpern.

Christina Egan © 2012

I had the poem and font colour before I found the caterpillar…!
I send a lot of handwritten letters; last year, it was exactly 100!

Photograph:  Christina Egan © 2016.

Ripples of People

Ripples of People
(Spring Equinox)

*

Ripples of people,
uneven waves, sudden whirls,
fast currents of cars:
a wayward river within
a canyon of grand buildings.

*

These neat white windows,
row upon row, road after road,
a thousand eyes
trying to catch light, praying
to touch the feeble sunset.

*

Christina Egan © 2013

Busy junction in the dusk, with red and yellow lamps of cars and buses glaring.

These tanka were written in Knightsbridge, London,
in the last days of March — after equinox! —
when after months of dull and dark skies,
you may still be desperate for light and warmth.
For similar poems in German, see Alles drängt vorwärts.

Photograph: Deptford Broadway, London.
Michael Oakes © 2016

I Peel Potatoes Round and Round

I Peel Potatoes Round and Round

The pots and pans are stacked away
The fruit and flour packed away
The spoons and ladles tied away
And half my life is lied away

I peel potatoes round and round
And see the muddy peelings mount
I peel and chop and boil and feel
My lifetime passing with the peel

The dust and crumbs are sucked away
The sheets and covers tucked away
The mud and mildew brushed away
And half my life is washed away

I am a woman and a wife
And all of you deny my life
Cast speeches of equality
And stifling silence over me

The socks and shirts are stacked away
The boots and woollens packed away
The shears and shovels tied away
And half my life is lied away

I am a woman and a wife
And all of you deny my strife
Is this two thousand seventeen?
My shackles hurt me more unseen

Christina Egan © 2016

Line of washing outdoors, very colourful, above greenery and flower-pot.

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2013.

Pretended liberation of women = Double shifts for women = New servitude of women

Read more in the essay  The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup  at FEMINISM.

 

Siegeskranz

Siegeskranz

Vor fünfzehnhundert Jahren,
da hab’ ich einen Kranz
aus Lorbeer und aus Ölzweig
gelöst und eingepflanzt.

Mein einst mit dunklem Lorbeer
gekröntes goldnes Haar
blieb fortan ungefeiert
und bleichte Jahr um Jahr.

Nach sieben Sommern aber
bot meine Ölbaumschar
die  bittersüßen Früchte
mit stolzem Lächeln dar.

Und Völker schwollen, ebbten,
und Rom verging in Rauch;
doch aus dem Kreis von Zweigen
entsproß noch Strauch um Strauch.

Und Bäume blühten, dorrten
und sanken in den Staub;
doch immer wieder grünte
das zähe Ölbaumlaub.

Nach fünfzehnhundert Jahren
betret’ ich einen Hain
aus silberhellen Hölzern
und spüre: Er ist mein.

Christina Egan © 2015

Olive grove, trunks and tree-tops silvery grey, like ashes.

Someone plants an olive grove towards the end of the Roman Empire, comes back to earth fifteen hundred years later — and recognises the descendants of her or his trees, which have survived the Dark Ages and are still thriving.

The narrator had taken the original olive shoots from her (more likely, his) victory garland, for instance for a poetic contest; so they could be an image for a contribution to civilisation in late antiquity which is relevant to this day.

For an English story about the end of Rome and its afterlife, go to The City Lit Up.

Photograph: ‘Olivenbäume in Umbrien’ by Adrian Michael.