Saturday, December 29, 2012

To my children on their leaving

I wrote this in 1990 when my children were 19 and 17 and we were living in India and they were studying in Adelaide. There had been many leavings prior but somehow, at this age, there was a sense that they were grown and the leaving was more absolute.

Every time you leave I realise
how much space in me you fill.
I rattle around for a few days,
and then, somehow the emptiness
ceases, filled now with the
memories of you both rather
than the physical 'now-ness'
of you. It's always a surprise,
to discover, how much room
you both take up, but then
you have been slowly but surely
excavating a place for yourselves
in my heart, for a very long time-
nearly 20 years. That's a long
time to work on something, and
you both work well. And even
when you began, you both
knew just where to dig. How
far to go, and when to stop and
rest for awhile. In the process
of course, you have simply
served to make my heart
larger and for that I thank you.
The space inside was so much
smaller before you came along.
Who would have thought
that something so small would
have arrived so well prepared,
for making such a secure place
in this world. For it is secure.
You have helped to make me
what I am and the place you
have dug for yourselves,
in my heart, is always yours.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Love and pain

I never knew that love would bring
such pain and tearing hurt,
that holding others in my heart
would lay me waste and burned.
I never knew that caring deep
for those I brought to birth,
would mean a life surrendered
to all that they brought forth.
There is no other bond so great,
which holds both mind and soul,
in chains of constant caring;
as endless years unfold.
It is as if their DNA is written
in my blood, and swirls in pure
remembering, no matter
where they are.
There is no place beyond the truth,
and we remain entwined,
in complex, cast of being;
a mother's life defined.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sometimes I think

Sometimes I think
I know myself,
within, without,
beyond all sense
of who I am,
beyond all sense
of knowing.
And yet I stand
reminded when
hidden memories
call, that I am always
more than this;
the me perceived
so small.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Joy and grief

The whisper drifts around
my mind and waits,
silent, patient, hidden
in the mists it calls
itself to being, never late;
it will appear when joy
bestows her kiss.
The words are murmured,
quietly, soft and cruel
they linger in the recesses
of thought, a presence
bold and ever powerful;
reminder of the lessons
I've been taught.
There was a time in childhood's
dream of life, when triumph
smiled at joy, and said:
'Long may you prosper
and inspire';
but in the wings stood fate
embracing death.
These two had formed
a pact to conquer joy,
so fragile and so
newly born she was;
no more than child's toy -
an ungrown thing, so small
and easily destroyed.
So now, when joy arrives
with timid touch,
full close behind comes fear,
then tight imprisoned
in her ugly arms,
the child's broken body;
remnants of the dream.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The echo of my love

The echo of my love was heard
in shadowed halls of heart,
as softly, grief on tiptoe
made her way into the dark.
The hardship that she carried,
was wrapped time's bright cloth,
and held the truth of motherhood;
eternal - never lost. 
On soulful, softened, gentle feet
she walked through gathered years,
and whispered love is never lost;
discounted all my fears.

This week's words:

Echo;noun: A sound or series of sounds caused by the reflection of sound waves from a surface back to the listener; a close parallel or repetition of an idea, feeling, style, or event; verb: (Of a sound) be repeated or reverberate after the original sound has stopped.

Hardship;noun: Severe suffering or privation.

Softly;adverb: In a quiet voice or manner; with a gentle or slow movement; in a pleasantly subdued manner.

Sweeper Woman

Thin, brown stick of woman,
her face grown old with pain,
dark eyes of long forgetting
the years not seen again.

In youth she dreamed so easily
but living gave her truth
that Harijans must keep their place;
they have but one good use.
And so she sweeps and cleans away,
the dropped debris of life
as mourning mimics ages past;
there is no place for pride.
In India imprisoned souls,
for freedom only yearn,
with centuries of barriers built
to block their every turn.
She knows not of the changing world
and is not meant to learn
for sweepers creep amidst the dirt;
from birth so cruelly spurned.
Fresh, foreign eyes cannot make out
the mark so clearly seen
by Hindus from the higher castes,
which so condemns her being.
This curse which crowns and crucifies,
denied - yet honoured still,
will be the death of India;
though she may never yield.
Thin, brown stick of woman,
your being burdened low
by centuries of hatred;
which only India knows.

Another poem Out of India as I trawl old files because there is not enough time to write.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My children grown

My children grown and suddenly,
the sense of something lost,
intangible and barely known;
I'd overlooked the cost.

As I had stretched in welcome,
in tumultuous birthing hour
a sense of new beginnings
rose; for time to then devour.

It seemed eternity had called
and smiling, offered all,
yet written small, ironically,
the words:'A loan. No more.'

Time took drifting wisps of years,
rolled up and ravelled fast,
and handed them so seriously;
the day did come at last.

And with the final reckoning,
the coins for counting called,
I straightened childhood's collar
and waved a sad farewell.

The cost had risen with the years,
a price I'd never thought,
yet one to pay with honour;
my children's future bought.

I wrote this in 1990 when my children were 19 and 18. I had yet to learn that you always remain connected and that even as you let them go, you remain linked by bonds, albeit unseen, and will do until the end of life, or, perhaps even beyond.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

God's great cloak

The starry cape
of God's great cloak,
has settled
on earth's edge,
as hunched,  God sits,
and still, watches
waits and broods.
With glistening folds
of flaming light
to drape around
those thoughts,
reflecting tears
of mirrored years
which roll unchecked;
slow kiss the dew
of night.
Encompassed in this
cloth of love
which warms
the world's brave
heart, we close
our eyes,
put out the stars
and cower
in the dark.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Can mother ever love enough

Can mother ever love enough
when child perceives the all;
encompassing, sense of more,
a mother beyond time and place?

Can mother ever love enough
when child believes the all;
enfolding mother image, will
keep them safe, secure?

No mortal mother loves enough
to keep the wanting child
from feeling failed and fearful;
to the Goddess we must turn.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ah love

Ah love. You crept
 inside myself
when I had
glanced aside.
Your gentle tread
was barely heard,
your soft touch
drifted by.
Defences down
and turning back,
I saw your shape
and cried
and yet too late;
you found your place
and claimed
your ancient right.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Isis Remembered

The world well wrapped
in welcoming wings,
assured, a place provided
where safely spent,
the years could rest;
peruse the pages silent.

The Goddess gathered,
garnered close
the sore and scattered
parts, of all her broken
peoples - of life's
wild, wilful thoughts.

The nest made safe,
soft-feathered, strong,
she offered sanctuary
and bade us all: 'Repair,
restore.' Rebuild
the broken body.

The nestlings nursed
with shuttered eyes,
cold-huddled to the past
and buried in blind
fragments, stretched
upwards to her heart.

And in the raw remembering,
they rose, reached out
and found, the many, now
re-made as one:
the work was surely done.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Green grass groaning
in wild wind wake
of monsoon's crooning
call; grey sky hung
on horizon's head -
the moan of newly born
The mantra dark
and mournful soars
high to crown the day
her words wash well
the face of sky;
rub dusty days away.
The clouds hang heavy,
hug the edge,
of sunshine's faded face,
then fall to earth
with ominous roar;
prostrated at her feet.
Her slow, shrill song
sung sweetly now,
the message straddles
time and marks with sure
solemnity;the blessed
baptismal rain.

They burn women in India

They burn women in India.
It doesn't take long ...
the flimsy nylon saris
are perfect
for burning;
it's the dying
which takes a long time,
but then
the dying started
a long time ago anyway.
On the day of the wedding,
the young girl learns
what price
her parents will pay
to be rid of her. She
must pray
that they will
be able to pay enough
so that someone will take her.
For when a woman has no value
in India, and an unmarried
woman is an object of shame,
and so her family is shamed.
A very good reason
to be rid of her of course.
So she becomes
someone else's daughter;
at least, that's what
her parents like to believe.
The truth is often
that once the price is paid,
the family which has been bribed
to take her away,
don't want her either.
So they burn her. That's what
happens to rubbish; to things
of no value.
Only the Goddess weeps
as woman burns in India.


Monday, December 3, 2012

The price of a daughter in India

You sold your daughter,
tied her sari tight
and sent her off,
to strangers. The bonds
were there before she
left you. There for
all her new family
to see. Not that
they looked too closely
at her. They were looking
at the new car,
and the fridge,
because that was how much
you had paid them
to take her off your hands.

Your hands are empty now,
and so is her heart.
What a price
you were prepared to pay
to dispose
of the inconvenience
of 'daughter.'
Not that you can call her that
anymore; she is gone
to others
who should call her daughter,
but they do not.

"Lazy bitch,'
comes more easily
to their lips. They
 have no time for her.
Why should they?
You paid them
to take her away.
There was no talk of love.
You did not ask that
they love her.
You gave them a car,
and a fridge, and
all they had to do
was give her a roof
over her head. Love,
now that
will cost more.

Is your daughter worth it?
What daughter?
Well you may ask.
And you will
when there is an accident,
and her sari melts
along with her,
and another daughter
must be found
to take her place
and bring with her
gifts and money.
Such is the price
of a daughter.

I wrote this when I lived in India in the early 90's. At that time a woman a day burned to death in Delhi and a woman an hour in Gujarat State. These kitchen 'accidents' claim more than 100,000 lives in India every year and are sourced in the iniquitous dowry system, which, while banned, remains entrenched.
The husband and mother-in-law are usually responsible but charges are rarely laid and most young women, charred and dying, usually refuse to say who set them alight. Kerosene and nylons saris combined with the attitude to women in India and the dowry system makes for a deadly mix.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


The souls are brought to being,
placed patient at the line,
which marks the start
of mortal wanderings
which fate has mapped.

So comes the hours of darkness
which leads into the light
when knowledge is extinguished,
so learning may begin.

Eternal seed is sown
as heaven shows its hand
and flings new hopes
on soil fresh-tilled; prepares
the way again.

And each is planted deep
below the mother's breast,
new life is sanctified;
a Self restored to Earth.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Red chair

As sentinel of crimson pain,
it offers velvet arms,
to time's destructive callings;
to life's eternal claims.
Upon a rotted floor of hurt,
within love's peeling walls,
you wait in mouldy sanctuary;
until I will return.
But shadowed light is falling
and night has called me home;
the door forever open
to dreams and ghostly forms.
The colour of our passion,
has held in shining dyes,
to honour what we shared
in bright, lost, helpless lies.


Tumble of silver and grey
crosses the evening sky,
blankets the blue of day-
wrapped ready for the night.

The ocean calls
to the trailing sky,
with whispering crash
and sand-choked sigh.

The gulls rise screaming
in fearful flight,
a winged, wild wave
to the facing sight.

The silence creeps
to the murmuring shore,
draws one last breath
from time grown old.

The light a moment loiters,
then darkness draws it's cape,
the sea is hushed to softness;
day settles down to sleep.