Captivity

I.

looking through the lofty glass door
I feel the faint sun on my forehead

I press my hands against the glaze of ice
I grasp the slender handle to crack it

I must lean out of it
I must step out of it

into the sparkling garden below me
into the buzzing street beyond it

I must follow the clouds to the edge of the land
I must follow the winds to the edge of the earth

 

II.

Iron railing in brick wall, like a gate without lock, with view onto green riverbank.tomorrow I will open my eyes
as if I saw the sun for the first time

tomorrow I will get up and go
as if my steps were guided and guarded

I will step out of my mind
into someone else’s mind

I will step out of my eyes
into someone else’s eyes

then I shall touch beauty
then I shall taste life

 

III.

Heavy rusty gate, decorated with swirls, with keys in lock.the summer was short
and long was the winter

I witnessed neither
I looked upon bricks

that was when I realised
how glaring lamps are and how bland

how pages are made of paper
and screens stay stubbornly flat

that was when I faded
from a flag to a shadow

I chewed on the bare bread of hope
turning sweet on my tongue

Christina Egan © 2012

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2018 / 2014.

Tranquil Dragon

Tranquil Dragon

Embroidered with orange lights
are the fanned steel wings of the bridge

suspended in the summer night,
a tranquil dragon bringing luck. 

Wide is the night and warm,
like the dark wine of old and ardent love.

The sky reads the low, slow river
as my eye reads yours in a dream.

Sparkling with lights is the city,
sparkling with lights is my soul.

Christina Egan © 2003


Dragons, of course, are noble and bring luck in Chinese mythology.

I must have been thinking of Hammersmith Bridge in London.

You can read more poems about suspension bridges at On the Orange Bridge (San Francisco) and Rosenquarzkammern (Malmö).

A Patterned Carpet

Silk cloth dominated by vivid pinks and greens.A Patterned Carpet
(July Tanka)

A patterned carpet,
the city is unrolling
between the bus stops…
I roll it up in my eye
and send it on to a friend.

*

Fountain in round basin in park, flanked by large flowerpots

Clouds, high in the sky,
saturated with sunshine,
rapidly drifting –
like currents across oceans,
like thoughts across continents.

Christina Egan © 2012

 

 

The idea of the big city as a woven carpet is  also pursued in the German poem Geflechte.

Photographs: Silk cloth from Madagascar. © The Trustees of the British Museum. — Schloßgarten Fulda. Christina Egan © 2014.

Spätes Wiederfinden

Spätes Wiederfinden

I.

Die strohgedeckten Hütten sind verschüttet,
und in den Säulengängen haust der Wind.
Mir ist, als spürt’ ich unter meinen Sohlen,
wo eigne Schritte eingezeichnet sind.

Ich schliff das Pflaster unter den Sandalen,
ich legte jenes Pferd ins Mosaik;
ich wurde dort am Wegesrand begraben
mit meinem Krug voll Kummer und voll Glück.

Very irregular pavement.

II.

Mir scheint, ich hätt’ schon vor Jahrhunderten
in deinen Augen wie ein Gast gewohnt.
Und wenn ich nur den Schlüssel wiederfände,
dann hätt’ auch dieses Leben sich gelohnt…

Was zählen da die wenigen Jahrzehnte,
in denen wir einander jetzt versäumt?
Ein kleiner Aufenthalt in deinen Augen
bringt, was ich in Jahrtausenden erträumt.

Christina Egan © 2011


The fifth year of this poetry blog sets off, as always, with a Roman road or another ancient road!

In the first poem, someone finds the place where they lived and died in a former existence; in the second one, they think they have also found their former love…

The location is imaginary. The three images for the former life all have to do with the earth: the feet and shoes; the mosaics in the floor; the grave by the wayside. Two of the images also refer to wandering, our wandering on earth: the soles wearing the pavement down and the horse in the mosaic. The second poem mentions the status of guest; as the psalms express it, we are all guests on earth.


Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.  International highway, Via Domitia, crossing the forum of Narbonne. I suppose this bit had been much damaged and patched up, since the Romans built entirely straight and smooth roads!

Cascades of Light

Cascades of Light

Cascades of light,
of mild, corn-coloured fire:
the sun pours itself out, down,
down across the black gulf
of space and time,
a flame, a smile,
onto the open rose,
the waiting face of the earth.

Christina Egan © 2004

Two large orange roses in the sunshine, yellow in the middle, with large healthy leaves.

Psalm

As warming as the sun’s first touch
after an age of ice.

The last love tastes like the first one:
radical, innocent.

No need to confirm with fire,
no need to confirm with words.

The world suspended in your eyes –
then life rolling out like a yellow-green valley.

Christina Egan © 2004

Vast lush meadow, with blue creek in the middle, under blue sky.

Photographs: Roses on the small island of Föhr, meadows on the tiny island of Hooge, both in the North Sea. Christina Egan © 2014.

Der Lebensbaum / Golden Flower

Der Lebensbaum

Du bist für mich der Liebestraum,
dessen Glanz die Seele nährt,
du bist für mich der Lebensbaum,
dessen Frucht der Leib begehrt.

Bleibt mir auch die Himmelstür
durch den Diebstahl einst verwehrt,
hab’ auf Erden ich dafür
noch vom Paradies gezehrt!

Christina Egan © 2011

Very bright painting of the earth and universe in concentric circles on a golden background.

 

The beloved one is seen as the tree of life which bears the fruit of paradise. Between Paradise at the beginning of our journey and Heaven at the end, earthly love offers us a taste of both…

Illustration: 12th century depiction of the world, illustrating a work by 11th century author Hildegard of Bingen (who is shown in the corner).

 

Golden Flower

O let the golden flower of my flesh
live on, live on, untouched by age and death
within the space I’ve out of all preferred:
your eyes, your eyes, my paradise on earth!

Christina Egan © 2012

Der Erde Auge / Dragon Island

Der Erde Auge
(Kaali, Estland)

Hier ist der Wald nur Wimpernkranz
um jadegrünen Augenglanz,
der immer träumt
und immer wacht,
der nimmer weint
und nimmer lacht.

Der Erde Auge schaut hinauf
in tausendfachen Sternenlauf:
Ein schwarzer Stein
mit Feuerschweif
schlug donnernd ein
und schuf den Teich.

Und um den runden Kraterrand
gehn hundert Menschen still gebannt:,
Sie schlendern her
zu eitlem Schaun
und schreiten schwer
in grünem Traum.

Berührt vom fernen Sternenschlag
sind tausend Jahre wie ein Tag.
Die Sonne fülllt
das Himmelsrund,
und urgrün quillt
der Augengrund.

Christina Egan © 2016


Dragon Isle
(Iceland)

Dark is the mid-morning sky,
shaded the treeless land,
granite the road of the sea,
burnt the abandoned strand.

Dragons looming like hills
have stirred from a century’s daze
to spew some sparks and some ash
before they set glaciers ablaze.

Christina Egan © 2010


The first poem, ‘The Earth’s Eye’ describes a startlingly green and perfectly circular lake in Estonia — a timeless, mythical place, caused by a meteorite crashing several thousand years ago, but within human memory.

The second poem was inspired by the news of a volcanic eruption on Iceland. Mythical creatures take on real life: not that hills look like dragons, no, dragons disguise themselves as hills…

I have also written a sonnet about the twin crater lakes of Sete Cidades (Azores). and a number of poems about the volcanoes of Lanzarote (Canaries).