My Pack of Cards

            My Pack of Cards

My pack of cards, when it was new,
was green and yellow, red and blue:
            from grass and leaves
            to golden sheaves,
            from glowing grapes
            to frosty flakes!
The leaves peeked out, unfurled, and grew,
flared up, fell off, when they were due.
            The fruits were round,
            the ice was sound.
            My year was clear,
            my joy was sheer.
My pack of cards is worn and torn –
my world is pale, and I’m forlorn.

            Christina Egan © 2016

Buds and fresh leaves on top of shoots above a parkIn children’s picture books, the four seasons are sometimes painted in four basic colours; everything is in its place, everything is perfect. Of course, it has never been like this: the weather is always unpredictable, particularly north of the Alps.

However, at the place where I grew up — Central Europe — the seasons were more clearly marked and more stable than on the British Isles. I also believe they were more regular: they seem confused and shifted just now. It is disorientating and worrying…

You can find an impression of undefinable weather at Cimmerian Summer whether it is due to the British climate or to global changes, I do not know.

The poem also expresses nostalgia for childhood, when everything on earth seems in its place. It was inspired by children’s picture books, which often allocate four basic colours to the four seasons.

Photograph: Schloßpark Fulda. Christina Egan © 2014.

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Tâter pour une langue

Tâter pour une langue

Il me manque les mots…
Ils flottent sur les flots :
turquoise… îlots…
glaciers et glaçons…
le bateau, le ballon –
ardoise… sillage…
nuit et naufrage –
sans peindre une scène,
sans rendre une chaîne,
parure, ceinture,
magie d’écriture !
Ô langue étrangère,
étrange, passagère,
je te cherche, te chasse,
je regarde dans ma tasse –
il me manque les mots !

Christina Egan © 2016


These lines describe the struggle to write literature in a foreign language. The poet has to look into her coffee-cup for inspiration…

The sequence of words appears to be disconnected but does produce the outline of a scene or story — a vague turquoise and grey image of a dangerous voyage — which also scans and rhymes. So there is the poem!

The First of December

The First of December

The ample, even, hand-like leaves
carelessly crumpled up by the frost
overnight,

the luscious colonies of moss
dusted with ice in the colourless light
of the day.

And we cannot deny this is still only autumn:
the yearly slow and sure descent
towards the cold.

This is the month of shrinking days,
of darkening hair and shivering skin
touched by damp.

This is the season of flickering lights,
some of them real, all of them glimmering
drops of hope.

Christina Egan © 2012

On the Orange Bridge

On the Orange Bridge

I.

The bridge bears tiny trembling lives
across the wild and icy strait,
a miracle of miles.
So moves my life, suspended by

the scarce, but strong and sparkling, stakes
of kisses and of smiles.

Golden Gate Bridge from below, with waves lapping a rocky beach.

II.

If I could pray, my wishes might
arise like incense to the light
and cling to royal robes.
Yet I am weak; all I can give

is work and talk and love and live
on tangy glowing hopes.

Christina Egan © 2008

Golden Gate Bridge. Photograph by Christian Mehlführer.
‘Featured picture’ on Wikimedia Commons.

I wrote these lines just before I went to San Francisco. Coincidentally, I found it so cold there that I could not cross the bridge on foot even in September! Yet, it is gigantic and awe-inspiring, like many things in America, whether natural or man-made.

P.S.: I did get kissed on the bridge…! Thank you!

Crystal Rock

Crystal Rock
(Béziers)

View from Gothic cathedral, almost vertical, onto structures forming a pattern

You follow a hidden winding staircase
and step down inside a crystal rock.

You have become very small and dark
or the space around you tall and light.

You stand on the ground of a tower of ice,
a polygon of translucent stone.

Is it a cavern? Is it a glacier?
No, it’s a chapel beneath a chapel!

Gothic cathedral in winter, dark grey against light blue

It is a cell in an ancient cluster:
a grey cathedral crouched on a rock.

Your soles touch a surface beneath the soil,
your eyes reach a tent of light like the sky.

This staircase does not lead to a nightmare:
it should be baptised a lightmare instead.

That era should not be known as Dark Ages:
it ought to be honoured as Ages of Light!

Christina Egan © 2016

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2016

These lines refer to the same ancient town of Béziers as the last post, Roof-Tile / Plateau. There, you can see more views from the roofs of the Cathedral.

 

A Faint Rainbow (Christmas Card)

A Faint Rainbow
(Christmas Card)

A faint rainbow maybe,
draped across a frozen market,
a filigree tree in the foreground,Old Dutch painting: lively scene of skaters between barren trees, steep gables and a pink manor house
some leisurely loops of skaters,
cloaked figures arranged like mute music –
that’ll do for a Christmas poem.

Good that my second-hand thoughts
and my second-rate verse
are still better than any in town
and almost as good as mulled wine…
And good that my real-life love
turns every single day into Christmas!

Christina Egan © 2012

These lines were inspired by this round painting :
A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle, ca. 1608-09,
by Hendrick Avercamp. — © National Gallery, London