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Tangled

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                          Come and come is the seaweed                           Come and come is the red sea-ware                           Come is yellow weed, come is tangle                           Come is food which the wave enwraps.                                                                       Carmina Gadelica Lamps of the wattles slowly brighten, lengthening the days. And a grey robin calls from the hawthorn hedge, quiet, clear, heart-piercing – the sound of the beginning of the end of winter through every year of my life here, early on when I didn’t know who I was hearing, then catching first glimpses, then close by; and after that, even out of sight the birds were with me. Cold light; snow-patched mountains against a white sky. But tiny green hands appear on the tips of the elder twigs, and in them the buds of flowers to come. Russet sheaths of willow catkins shine with resin, swelling. For weeks now, since the shortest day, the young hens have been laying small beaut

Dark

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              Daowu and Jianyuan went to a house to offer condolences. Jianyuan struck the coffin with his hand                and asked, “Alive or dead?”               Daowu said, “I’m not saying alive, I’m not saying dead.”               Jianyuan asked, “Why won’t you say?”               Daowu said, “I’m not saying! I’m not saying!”               On the way home, Jianyuan stopped in the middle of the road and demanded, “Tell me right now, Teacher.                If you don’t say, I’m going to hit you and leave.”               Daowu said, “You can hit me, but even if you do, I still won’t say.” Jianyuan hit him.                                                                                                                         Blue Cliff Record, Case 55 Dark days, cold and wet with sleet and snow, carried on winds that blow from the south for weeks as a high pressure system sits to the west, blocking the movement of fronts that could shift the airflow. Every morning at daylight, e

Uncommanded

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            the victory of a revolution is immanent and consists in             the new bonds it installs between people. What Is Philosophy?   Early in the month, a great serpent-dragon of cloud with a feathered crest coils around the island, noses in across the coastal peninsulas from the southeast and up along the river valley from the sea. It rains for days, heavy sheets of water that twist in the wind and slap against the east facing doors; towards the end, lightning circles northeast, north, northwest, west, southwest, so close that we hear the crackle as bolts cleave the air before the shockwave goes out. Each bolt is followed by a deluge as the cloud that carried the charge collapses, released from the static tension that holds each raindrop or snowflake apart from all the others. Snow falls on the peaks, tanks and dams fill. Water birds feed, delighted, but other birds and all the furred creatures hunch and wait it out in whatever shelter they can find. I’ve seen this pattern

Mirror

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                    you will greet yourself arriving                     at your own door …                                                        Derek Walcott Blackbirds chase on the roof above my head (I know the sound of their feet). Three males, beautiful in their glossy black, their daffodil-yellow beaks, are fighting for territory already. They face off, but don’t yet sing. One picks something up and drops it, picks it up and drops it – a snail? A stick? A small stone? Birds everywhere, their calls clear in the cool air that pools overnight now above the river, topped by a warm layer that bounces back all the sounds generated beneath it – vehicles on the road across the valley, conversations, dogs barking, geese sounding an alarm somewhere. The same cool air presses the river flat till it holds a reflection of every leaf of every tree along its edge; kayakers drift on its lambent surface, doubled, inverted. In the space of a couple of weeks, both T and I find eagle feathers, and

Incantation

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What do oceans talk about, or trees? What do predators and prey shout to each other in the night? What name does the doe give the fawn as it lies in the grass catching its breath?                                                                       Rachel Boughton, ‘The Stone Woman Gives Birth’ Picking apples – they’re small and hard this year after a dry summer, the unthinned fruit bunched together, tart-sweet, but the seeds of the mid-season varieties are dark now and the birds and animals have begun to eat. Parrots and silvereyes and yellow wattlebirds and possums in the branches, pademelons and swans on the ground. We leave some for all of them. There are still blackberries on the bushes but not for much longer. I cook both sweet and savoury dishes with the apple-blackberry combination. High clear cool days as the sun angles lower, the air golden, marvellous to taste and full of the whistling of starling flocks. Another of the young swans has died – only one left now, of the four

Towards

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                            Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.                            Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us. Just on dusk the three-day moon, a thin orange slice, soft neon, balances on its tip and goes down behind the range to the southwest. Last light passes into the glow of an aurora, pale green at the horizon, dusky red above. Subtle pulses run through it.  Days of heat with streamers of cloud from the northwest that bring no rain; long grasses bleach and turn brittle. Near where I water the little lemon tree, jasmine puts out innumerable small green hands from the places where I pruned it earlier. Sound of bumblebees in the flowering comfrey. White butterflies – preparing to lay their eggs on the winter vegetables! – crowd the purple flowers of horehound that’s seeded itself in the pavement by the door. Nights continue mercifully cool. I spend weeks swallowed up, following events as they unfol

Company

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         I risk to write nonsense these days.          Just write down what you find.          I’ll never know what I’ve found.                                              John Berger, Here Is Where We Meet 237 New moon at the beginning of the month – a sliver of brightness between clouds in the western sky as summer dusk comes in. As part of the rhythm of things I bring water, flowers, candles to acknowledge the ancestors – those as remote as the stars from which we are all descended, and closer in, those of the ground itself and the creatures on whom we depend, and ranged around the walls, those of my human lineage, whose images soften and lean forward in the moving light. An immense curl of cloud, the remains of a cyclone, drifts down across the island from the Coral Sea. Air turns to steam, mist comes right inside and at night, little frogs congregate on the sweating pavement of the verandah to catch insects attracted to the houselights. When warm damp meets a cold stream from th