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Summer Musings

The world is in a state of chassis, O’Casey’s Joxer tells us. Across all our media every which way you read, look, listen, this seems to hold true now, more than ever in the history of the planet. Even if a seismic shift were to take place now in attitude and practice, and the jury is out on that, it may well be too late. Dark thoughts indeed, especially when I am filled with the delights and love of my grandchildren playing around me. Jo Harjo, the first female Native American Poet Laureate in the US, wrote that we have to walk the perimeter of truth for understanding. This may well be the perimeter of our truth – imminent catastrophe.

There is a need to escape, to find a place to refresh, to stay remotely sane and tranquil in the face of this. My bolt hole is a delightful, small apartment in the South of France, privileged I know. It has a tiny garden which I am now allowing to go to seed in my feeble attempt to restore our earth.

In Death of the Commendatore, by Hariko Murikamo, the protagonist, a painter, comments on how he often has to wait in front of the canvas until the painting comes to him unbidden. The painting also informs him when it is complete which he has to respect and stop. This poem came and stopped in this way, so read, enjoy, pass on to others and send me comments.

Villanelle for my Garden

My garden has declared itself a meadow,

the tiny patch of grass has grown knee-high.

An oleander casts itself a shadow

 

that trails across the strip, its trip allows

the ground to warm, to cool, to seed, to sigh.

My garden has declared itself a meadow.

 

The planet needs to have its land run fallow,

allow itself to breathe, renew itself, not die.

An oleander casts itself a shadow.

 

We, mortals, ravage and then wallow

in our wasting, never asking why.

My garden has declared itself a meadow.

 

My newly found, tall grass is a Pisarro,

has butterflies and other flying insets call and fly,

an oleander casts itself a shadow.

 

The sun beams down, I find it hard to swallow

the pleasure of the view, my feelings high.

My garden has declared itself a meadow,

an oleander casts itself a shadow.

 

Peter Clarke

August 2019