Last season’s grape vine leaves
Autumn, then winter, going, going, going …
Spring is here with (in Dunedin) its bitter, nor’easterly winds. Straight up the harbour.
Memories of last summer; wax crayon love-hearts on our glasshouse.
Watery-sun enticements to take a wander up to our backyard and check on any winter damage done in the name of nature.
Among winter detritus, encouraging signs of growth – promise of mid-summer orange – the calendula plants growing from seeds planted by our daughter in law before that branch of our family left again for Berlin.
However, time outside these days is usually brief. It is still cold, despite the sunlight.
Indoors again and at my writing desk; a different kind of glass house – a paperweight which my friend Rose gave me for my fiftieth birthday (sixteen years ago now). Recently I wrote a poem about this paper weight, describing it and referring to our friendship that has lasted since high school days.
gift of glass
This birthday gift from you,
marbled sphere with its containment
of magnified swirls;
is an entire world I can hold
in one hand,
a glass sea frozen in motion
for various, irregular daubs
saffron stretching to a red
dark as ink, to float in
like jelly fish, or fallen seaweed,
Above this petrified ocean,
a gold-dusted flower spreads starfish
petal-wings; a lily worn to a skeleton
of filigreed sunlight.
Up close its centre
into a clear, cyclonic bubble-eye,
a globe’s glass vortex
of cold fire,
of mouth-formed air, of captured,
twisted, braided, liquid sand.
I hold it, this paperweight gift
of glass. I weigh its measure
of fire, of memory
of a friendship first formed
back one school day
when on a cool patch of grass
we laughed at how easy it would be
to become friends
for life; surely
sensing even then everything
as it was – the heat
from the fiery core of this globed planet
on which we both stood and turned
and even now, keep on
under a golden, lily-sky spent
from the weight of sun.
Kay McKenzie Cooke
More gifts on the window-sill in the corner where my writing desk is these days.
The mug I got from Mum’s when my brother, sister and I cleared her house out after her death. It reminds me of staying with her in the years before she died. When she was in her seventies (good years for her) and doing the rounds of antique shops with an eye for a bargain; or simply for things that took her eye. She was proud of this Palmy North second-hand shop find – this mug with its can-can dancer theme. It tickled her sense of humour, which always did border on the scandalous.
The hippo from sweet Jenny P. – isn’t he gorgeous? – also has a poem which I have published online in a previous post.
The Robert Coune photo of an old school-house, Tuatapere, Southland, is a present from Ann, who knows Tuatapere is where I was born.
The faded Russian (babushka/matryoshka) nesting dolls, is a gift from my sister Lynley after an overseas trip back in the 1980’s.
And on a serendipitous note – this same sister is about to become a babushka for the third time, any minute now.