Rear Mirror

Rear Mirror

Telegraph wires:
a flock of birds turns them into
three lines of verse.

*

No flowerbeds here –
but a line of bright washing
dancing in the wind!

*

A palm-tree appears
in the rear mirror, and huts
in the still lagoon.

Christina Egan © 2018

Washing-line with red, orange, yellow, green clothes, forming a triangle with the matching flower-beds behind.

These haiku about haiku were written looking at three picture postcards, where I instantly perceived patterns and metaphors.

Poetry – and painting or photography – are like rear mirrors which make hidden things visible and ordinary places special.

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.

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ich sammle das goldblatt / Scant Scent

ich sammle das goldblatt

ich sammle das goldblatt vom himmel
wer hat es gemalt?
den lapislazulischimmer
wer hat ihn bezahlt?

ich sammle den pfeil jener elster
ein schrei und ein flug
ich schneide das bild aus dem fenster
der glanz sei genug

ich fange den wind in den zweigen
bevor er verweht
ich schreibe mit purpur das schweigen
das späte gebet

Christina Egan © 2017

Bare branches against sunset in mauve and apricot; high mountains along horizon.


Sunset over the Bay
of Carthage, Tunisia,
around New Year’s Eve.

Photograph:
Christina Egan © 2013

 

 

 

Scant Scent

The incense of my prayer
turned damp in this dark place,
where layer upon layer
of cloud obscures the grace
of light and breath and warmth,
of ease and joy and strength —
O Lord of Hosts, accept
my incense with scant scent…

Christina Egan © 2017

Sunface

Sunface

Orange clouds on blue sky, mirrored in windows of terraced houses to the left, with silhouettes of large trees to the right.

I smile at the sunface
and soak up the rain
I gather a garland
and wait for the grain

I forage the forest
and furrow the earth
I gaze at the sunset
and wait for the bird

I follow the swallow
its call and its course
it cries and it circles
it sinks and it soars

Christina Egan © 2016

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2014.

This was the tree the bird sang from so sweetly… It has since been felled, so that my garden gets much more light and thrives; so the tree behind it, the bird’s new home! 

 

 

April Rules the Land

April Rules the Land
(April haiku)

April rules the land,
leaden and golden in turns,
wayward as we are.

*

Oxford Street, busy,
a splintered rainbow, patterns,
shaken and broken.

*

The white narcissus 
sings with a voice as sweet as
her brother blackbird.

Christina Egan © 2000

The last haiku originally referred to ‘the ivory rose’, although in England, outdoor roses do not blossom yet in April. When I changed the wording to ‘the white narcissus’ to link it to the season and month, I did not know that the flower’s official name is Narcissus poeticus, or Poet’s Narcissus!

The ivory rose
sings with a voice as sweet as
her brother blackbird.

Proteus / Daedalus

Proteus

Your beauty is the beauty of the clouds:
as grand and graceful, as remote,
from silver changing into gold,
and changing shape, and changing whereabouts.

Your beauty is the one of Proteus:
I’m bound to watch it swirl and stay,
afraid your heart will likewise sway,
innocuous and gay and treacherous.

Your beauty is the one of Morpheus:
I’m bound to drink it in a dream,
afraid of stumbling on that stream,
with ghostly flowers studded, murderous.

Your beauty is the beauty of the clouds.
your ever-present smile the gleam
behind their soft and tousled seam…
Your soul is what your face reveals and shrouds.

Christina Egan © 2012

Daedalus

I watch the condor pass:
lofty and lonely,
steady and strong,
improbable like Daedalus…

I watch the condor pass
and want to follow him
across the barren peaks –
I want to touch the clouds…

Christina Egan © 2012

Ashen Land (For Syria)

Ashen Land
(For Syria)

The only offspring left calls from the eaves.
Some houses have a hundred hollow wounds,
and hamlets of a dozen centuries
surrender to contending winds their rooms.

The olive-trees stretch out their silver leaves
like angels’ feathers in a cry for peace.
Where is the comfort for a bird that grieves,
the peace for ashen land? Is it beneath?

It is beneath the nettles and the shards,
beneath the venom seeped into the field;
it is above the silver heaps of stars,
seed of unimaginable yield.

Christina Egan © 2016

Olive grove, trunks and tree-tops silvery grey, like ashes.Photograph: ‘Olivenbäume in Umbrien’ by Adrian Michael.

I found this marvellous illustration on Wikimedia Commons long after I wrote the poem. I had not even thought of the silver bark and leaves resembling ashes…

In the past few years, millions of Syrians have lost their homes and possessions, or their jobs or studies, or their health or their limbs, or their loved ones or their own lives. The national liberation movement has turned into an apparently bottomless civil war, a literally insane religious war, and a vicarious war of outside powers. This conflict will change the face of the Near East and the face of Europe. Meanwhile, the suffering continues.

Let us pray for peace in Syria. All together.

höhlenmenschen / cavemen

höhlenmenschen

die treppe rollt
hinab hinab
die u-bahn grollt
fährt ein fährt ab

der tunnel biegt sich
durch die nacht
der aufzug hebt sich
aus dem schacht

die masse schiebt sich
durch die schlucht
ein wabern webt sich
in die luft

ein sonnenstrahl
blitzt auf vom glas
ein vogelschwarm
stiebt auf vom gras

der rest ist schatten
stahl und stein
dies ist die stadt
tritt ein tritt ein

Christina Egan © 2015

cavemen

the staircase bores
into the ground
the tube train roars
goes round and round

the tunnel bends
through rock through black
the lift ascends
the narrow gap

the masses heave
through deep ravines
fumes waft and weave
through all these streams

a glint of sun
reflects off glass
a pigeon swarm
explodes from grass

the rest is shadow
steel and stone
this is the city
welcome home

Christina Egan © 2015


This poem — created in parallel in both languages — questions the notion of progress by observing its epitome, the world city, with its underground tunnels and dark gorges between skyscapers.

You can read more laments about the strain of our urban environment in the previous post, Amidst the rush / Schrumpft die Welt, and find some relief in When Webs of Steel / Von stählernen Waben.