Andrew Lansdown: ‘The Calming Clams’, ‘Holes’, ‘Locations of Red’, ‘Pictures of Plants’ and ‘Getting Light’

The Calming Clams

About certain clams
the ancient Japanese made
astonishing claims.
Their epithet for them tells
their belief: forgetting-shells.

Perhaps the ocean
sounding in them once cast spells
over grieving minds—
perhaps that is why those clams
once conveyed a sense of calm.

The Tosa Diary
records the ancients’ deep ache
for forgetting-shells.
Compared to us, were they more
desperate to close sorrow’s door?

Andrew Lansdown

Japan: Jizō Bosatsu, guardian of the souls
of miscarried and aborted children (mizuko)

A persimmon
left as an offering to
Jizo Bosatsu
has been holed by birds, just like
a mother’s heart, holed by grief.

Also without
a centre, a five-yen coin
offered to Jizo
by a mother aching to save
her mizuko from limbo.

Andrew Lansdown

Pictures of Plants

The nasturtium—
expertly balancing plates
without spinning them.

The papyrus—
rain affixing glass beads in
its afro hair.

The frond’s underside—
microfilm dots containing
blueprints of a fern.

The bamboo stem—
storing a stack of pale crisps
like a Pringle tube.

The sheoak leaf—
a slim damselfly wanting
four leadlight wings.

The pond lily-pads—
protecting the goldfish with
a Viking shield-wall.

Andrew Lansdown


Getting Light

Cut bamboo to lengths
and let time and weather leach
greenness and wetness …
then lightness will fill its walls
and darkness will leave its heart.

Take your axe and saw,
then, Christ, my Carpenter God,
hack me down and up—
draw out the dark and infuse me
with light and lightness to the core.

Andrew Lansdown

Locations of Red

Above the stone bowl,
a paper lantern—

On the bowl water,
a scarlet glisten—

Below the surface,
a wafting goldfish—

On the fish’s scales,
a netting of light—

On the eye’s retina,
registrations of red.

Andrew Lansdown



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