Beginenhof in Ghent

Beginenhof in Ghent

wie finde ich sie wieder
die reihen schwarzer türen
die zu den treppengiebeln
und tulpenbäumen führen

Gate into cobblestone lane with white walls, black doors, and red buildings behind.wie kann ich sie entdecken
die schlichten weißen mauern
die um erblühnde hecken
und rote häuser dauern

gewunden sind die gassen
versperrt von breiten flüssen
geborsten ist das pflaster
und meine schuh zerschlissen

wo nisten die gestalten
in schwarz und weißen trachten
wie hundert flinke schwalben
über den grauen grachten

wo sind die schönen schriftzüge
die weiß auf schwarz verkünden
die heiligen drei könige
wärn manchmal anzufinden

wie finde ich sie wieder
die schweren blanken türen
die durch bestirnte lieder
ins glühnde schweigen führen

Christina Egan © 2018

Two heavy black wooden doors in a white brick wall, with inscriptions as below.

“House of the Three Wise Men” (Three Holy Kings, in other languages) and “House Jesus, Mary, Joseph” at a former Beguinage in Ghent (Klein Begijnhof).

This was a type of convent where the sisters were allowed to go out and also to leave after each year of service. I imagined the story of a woman who wants to rejoin the community and for some reason ‘cannot find it any more’.

Photographs: Christina Egan © 2018.

Park in December

Park in December

Dead leaves everywhere,
thousands of them, outstretched hands,
discarded prayers…

*

The crystal goblet
of the winter sky, brimful
with frosty white wine.

*

On denuded twigs
millions of minute buds
hovering in limbo.

Christina Egan © 2012

As Limpid as the Moon / Alabasterschale

As Limpid as the Moon

Some people are as luminous,
as limpid as the moon:
with truthfulness amidst the lies
or happiness in gloom.

They float and glow across the road
or mesmerise a room;
they never fade, and when they’ve died,
they leave a shining tomb.

Christina Egan © 2016


Alabasterschale

Überm schwarzen Heer der Bäume,
überm grauen Heer der Gräber
ruft durch dunkelblaue Räume
eine Glocke unbeirrt.
Balanciert auf spitzem Pfahle,
schimmert ferne feingeädert
eine Alabasterschale:
fremdes riesiges Gestirn.

Überm schwarzen Heer der Bäume,
blätterlos und blütenträchtig,
überm grauen Heer der Steine
lädt die Glocke zum Gebet.
Überm hingestreckten Tale
steigt gemessen, schlicht und prächtig,
jene Alabasterschale,
bis sich uns das Herz erhebt.

Christina Egan © 2017


As Limpid as the Moon remembers my radiant parents-in-law.

Alabasterschale compares the full moon to a bowl of alabaster; the scene is the vast old Tottenham Cemetery in London. The poem integrates awe before Nature and faith in God (as worshipped in church etc.).

This text will be printed in the Münsterschwarzacher Bildkalender 2019.

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

Verquer

Verquer

Garden furniture jumbled up by storm in front of old wooden shed.Ich schau auf die Straße:
Doch niemand kommt her.
Die Sonne ist prachtvoll,
die Wolken sind schwer.

Ich schau in den Garten:
Die Stühle sind leer.
Die Welt ist betörend,
die Welt ist verquer.

Und niemand, ach niemand
erahnt meinen Schmerz!
Das Leben – ein Schicksal?
Das Leben – ein Scherz?

Wie Weihrauch denn steige
mein Wort himmelwärts,
daß Gott sich mir neige
und wandle mein Herz.

Christina Egan © 2015

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2012.

 

 

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

You Want to Read This Poem

You Want to Read This Poem

You want to read this poem
time or no time
rhyme or no rhyme.

You want to know
that your face is a flame
in the hidden temple
of someone else’s heart
trembling and steady.

You want to dwell
on the deep-blue dusk
of her dress
of her eyes
of her soul.

You want to believe
one last time
that three hours are enough
to fuel three years of delight
and from there three thousand.

You want to be sure
she will never be too close
never too far
like surges of birdsong
like surf.

You want to read this poem
as if it were a prayer
as if it were a promise.

Christina Egan © 2011


You Do Not Want to Read this Poem

You do not want to read this poem
however much sunlight
however much midnight.

You do not want to plough
through luminous ciphers
of your own beauty
you want to hear it in someone’s voice
you want to see it on someone’s lips.

You want to lift your eyes from the paper
onto her face
you want to lift your hand from the paper
onto her arm
let it rest.

You want to step through this poem
as if it were a secret gate
to the tiered garden
of an ancient manor house
you heard of in a novel.

You do not want a host of poems
a pavement of paper
a quilt of hopes
you want a host of moments
a quilt of memories.

You do not want to read this poem
you want sudden life
before the sun has sunk.

Christina Egan © 2011