For Guest Poet Arwen – Rest in Peace

A friend who allowed me to post his sensitive and insightful poems on this blog has just passed away. He was secretive about his poems, and I felt honoured that he let me feature his work. He felt supported by all the ‘likes’ so thanks to anyone who did so. Scarf and Plant Empath are two of my favourites.

This is what I have written in the wake of his passing.

Rest in Peace, Lee/Arwen, beautiful being may your journey be blessed.

Morning Wings

Morning wings
brush mine,
I wake to a
pale moon
in blue.
 
She sinks 
westward
while we soar,
arise.
 
Sunlight rests
in Apple branches,
full of white
perfume.
 
Could I rest 
there too?
I climb and touch
the sky.
 
The eastward 
moon rises,
I close my eyes.
 
Paling,
I sink
 
I no longer
touch the ground.
 
I leave the Earth
for the Sky.

Earth Speaker

Earth Speaker,
tell us the way –

how to live as
a dandelion,
yellow joy,
full of vitamins,
unafraid to be picked,

how to live as
a tree
shading those
who are burning,

home to birds,
squirrels, insects,
smaller things.

Tell us how
to become
a home

even in
our final fall

to let go
of the sky
and lie back
down to earth
with grace

as the living trees
witness our change
and mushrooms
and lichens
take us.

Earth Speaker,
tell us,
for we have
forgotten
we are part
of it all.

Guest Post – Poems by Arwen

The Scarf

The scarf that Nan wore

When she was dying –

Green, gold and sparkling,

Delicate tassels of silver,

Luminescent –

From whence did it come?

 

A thing she picked up

In the dementia home,

In her forgetting

(So we presume) –

Unless, on her deathbed,

It just manifested.

 

The only thing there is

To remember her with.

How can it be that she’s gone?

And yet,

If she were not,

It would make sense even less.

– Arwen, September 2017 (Cambridge)

 

Loss

They’re coming, coming,

One after another,

One follows the other,

Hastening, chastening –

The rain

Breaks up loss

Like candles at mass –

Hope in the dark;

When a bee is fallen

(The window never found)

It lies death still –

Like us as well.

– Arwen – July 1990 (Birmingham)
 

These poems are written by my friend Arwen. I feel honoured to share Arwen’s poems which I find so moving- these blazing insights are having their first blog outings.

 

Some words from the writer:

 

‘The scarf’ is written after my Nan died in late 2016.  I then recalled that I’d also written a poem when my Granddad (her husband) died, way back in 1990.  The poem ‘Loss’ is also recorded here, therefore, written on the day he died.’ – Arwen

 

I Lay Down

I lay down until
I was mostly lichen,
a bare branch,
the bark decayed.

I lay still longer
and I became dirt,
a mushroom digging
its roots through me.

I was bound,
unmoving

until I was
raining

pouring into
the ocean
and I became

undertow.

Drowned in the
taste of
salt,
no color or smell

until the tides changed
and I rode up
on a white horse

and I saw
golden sun
blue waves
and the green
of the shore.

Ah if I knew
this was my fate
I would not have been
afraid to die.

I was inspired by Mary Oliver’s poems- many of her poems- especially ‘Sleeping in the Forest‘. My poem is only a small telling in the face of her gorgeous writing, but I thought it was worth mentioning the inspiration.

To a Teacher

I had not
tried to meet him
for I felt too small,

so I was unprepared
when the grace
in his words
met me.

They say a
man can die
and his bones
lay in one place
hidden, underground.

His words
came to me
as I walked
through

golden, red and
brown leaves

unexpected,
and I was only
dressed

in autumn,
heading to
winter.

He turned my
mind to Spring.

They say the touch
of a teacher across
time, space, even death
is a blessing-
Adhisthana.

This is written to Sangharakshita who died in late October. I am in the Triratna Buddhist movement and have learned much from his books and teachings, though I had never met him.

Last Snow

Birds, twigs
in beaks,

busy as a
flurry of snow
in the not-yet Spring.

Dust motes
floating, falling
blowing horizontal,
busy bright
in the light
of the sun.

Yellow tulips
on my windowsill –

Winter holds
to snow bones.

Lengthening days
welcome the flight
of birds, of us.

Others stop here.

Snow, busy busy
covers all who
choose to remain

those who are
not fleet-winged

those who are still,
asleep.

After warmer weather the snow has returned to Cambridge, UK. And this is to those lost from the world this winter, claimed by the season.

A Splash of Life

When we rose from the dead,
stumbling and laughing
moonlit shadows
on the sand,

we stubbed our toes
on cockles and whelks
we swooped and cried with
seagulls cartwheeling
in sea break tumbling
onto sand.

Spent, the sea
stretched her fingers
and licked our bones.

She took us out
and out until
we were
moonlight
water
and salt.

Green

I am green
but not with envy
– with ivy

the deep ferns
of a rich, fragrant
forest

the color of oak
leaves
and redwood
needles

I drink deep
and deeper
through new roots

My human body
is not my
real body

my green body
comes awake

You cry for me
but each day
I grow closer

to the sky

my leaves unfurl
and drink in the rich
love of the sun.

I go from pale
to such a vibrant color
you’ve never seen.

Happy New Year to my readers. This poem was inspired by walking in nature (the Cambridge Botanic Gardens) and also reflecting on growth, change, death and what it is- can there be death without something new sprouting? May we all find the green.

This Moon and Bone

I know this bone
a white handhold
lost in
a black, tar sea.

The full moon
swims against
the night water-
I curl my fingers
through it
and it breaks.

I put my hand
around the moon-
the whole one that
swims against
the sky
and
imagine
its smooth, orb
weight – a pebble
in my palm.

I don’t dare
touch the bone-
the bone so close
I can smell it.

If I curled
my hand
around its
death white
grip

would it break
apart or
would I?