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.

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




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

On the Orange Bridge

On the Orange Bridge


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.


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!


One year later:
My 125th post!


Altar, bright golden, in church, Neo-Gothic, with plenty of lit candles beneath.In den Gezeiten des Lebens,
in dem Getriebe der Stadt
suchst du verzweifelt, vergebens
Liebe, die Zukunft hat.

Tritt ins Portal einer Kirche,
schau’ in die flackernde Flut,
entzünd’ eine winzige Kerze
und wisse: Alles wird gut.

Alles ist zugewogen,
Liebe und Freude und Leid;
niemand wird je betrogen
um Sinn und um Seligkeit.

Christina Egan © 2011

St Ludwig, Berlin (near Ku’damm).
Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016

“Everything is weighed for you, love and joy and suffering; nobody will ever be cheated out of meaning and of bliss.”

I believe this beyond any doubt, although not everything will come all right this side of death. Lighting a candle in a place of worship in the midst of our busy lives gives us comfort and peace at any rate.

This poem on faith and destiny was published in a previous edition of the  Münsterschwarzacher Bildkalender. The 2017 calendar is available now, with 52 photographs and 52 poems and addresses (one of them by me: psalm für dich).



Initial of mediaeval manuscript, filled with monks and nuns singing from such a missal on a lectern above them; in gold and bright red, blue and green

steigt Schweigen
aus den steilen Wänden,
aus den gefalteten Händen,
den vornübergeneigten Schleiern.
Und doch ist alles ein Feiern,
als sei, wenn es schneit,
ein Staub von Gold
über die Gärten gestreut…

Zeit, Zeit
tickt hier laut
in den langen dunklen Uhren,
in den blankbefliesten Fluren,
weil die Ewigkeit
sie so beschwert
wie Wasser eine weiße Schüssel.
Und jeder geschmiedete Schlüssel,
der gegen ein Gitter klappert,
wie ein Versprechen,
das Gott nicht brechen will.

Sunlit walled flower garden with sturdy stone cross in corner

Es singt
am Rasenrand
der Schneeglöckchenchor,
ein besticktes Band.

Und jede ungeschmückte Wand
das goldne Schweigen
wie der Frühlingssonne sanfte Hand.

Christina Egan © 2006

I owe this overpowering experience of peaceful silence to the Carmelite monasteries of London (Most Holy Trinity) and Cologne (Maria vom Frieden), which are based on a philosophy of shared “silence and solitude”.

Liturgical book for Eastertide (1450s).
Sailko via Wikimedia Commons. —
Nunnery garden, hidden in the midst of a big city. Christina Egan © 2014