Night Petals, Shirakawa Canal
Gion, Kyoto, Japan
An oblong of light
laid on the canal surface
from a café window—
and sometimes cherry petals
drifting through from dark to dark …
Lovely but lonely
to see them passing by on
the canal’s surface—
petals with their pale faces
like those of the ones we love.
I now realise
she’s elect among ladies.
With my very eyes
I’ve seen her banish maybes,
bless God and suckle babies.
She can oversee
governments, griefs and gravies.
Given a chance, she
would heal the wolves of rabies
and quell the guns of navies.
She is the ropes
upon which my life rappels.
To her my hopes
cling like the claws of grapples,
rise like the spires of chapels.
She’s a world apart,
all daylight without dapples.
So help my dry heart,
she sets alight the maples
and adds the juice to apples.
The Liminal Child
Now and then I yearn
for the child we lost, the one
without face or name,
who first leapt out of our love
and then leapt out of our life.
It was hard on you,
child, but we also endured strife.
We couldn’t conceive
that when we loved you into life
you’d enter our hearts like a knife.
The Girl and the Papyrus
From the fishless pond I love to look upon
while I’m writing poems and apologetics,
the papyrus has sent up many tall stalks,
each one an unruly-ruffed headless capon.
But today one stem sports a distinctive top—
the tallest but thinnest one that gravity
got hold of and was pulling downwards until
the veranda rail helped to support its mop.
Seeing it there, and feeling for its trouble,
my granddaughter gathered its wispy green hair
into three strands and laced them into a braid,
which she kept from unravel with a bobble.
And this simple glad act set me thinking that
perhaps some other girl in Egypt long past
might have undertaken the same task—might have
twined some papyrus tresses into a plait—
as she waited in hiding for that long while
to see if Pharaoh’s daughter would discover
and save her baby brother drifting in his
pitch-covered basket on the chop of the Nile.