This morning, on this first day of gratitude, I am grateful for my breath.
In and out and up she rises.
For a moment loving and nourishing me alone
and then leaving,
just for a moment
before returning replenished.
My breath, connecting me to all things.
My breath connects me to the earth and the rich warm smell of the earth, to rain and to the possibility of rain, to my neighbour’s bonfire, and to the other neighbours’ dogs. To little birds, to people everywhere, to the mighty old trees crowding the sky down by the river.
In and out, here now and gone again and here, now and now and now,
my breath, your breath,
Beyond your reach!
You might have touched!
Had you but chanced this way!
‘Stead sauntered through the village,
Sauntered so soft away.
A meadowfull of violets
Host bees in morning’s glow,
Not for unknowing fingers
That passed, so long ago.
I wrote this in response to Emily Dickinson’s poem that was (probably posthumously) titled Almost! You can see the original in many places including here
The pressure to perfect this was too intense. I thought about every sound and syllable, read so many of her poems and about her life, and the poem seems to have hardly changed from the original. That’s why no post for a month! But there – it’s done, it’s the best I could do.
The sun is gently rising and I’m sitting on the back step,
watching the paint peel, and
the grass overgrow the side fence, and
Old Limpy hobble after her fat, clucky sisters.
And my hands are warmed by a mug of hot tea.
And all is well in my world.
And all is well in my world.
I have returned from a very local Dawn Service. I love the service – a gathering of neighbours, local schoolkids and their families, the congregation of St Mary’s.
Highlights this year – we sang the New Zealand National anthem! Such a beautiful, musical anthem, we were led by a tall, handsome young Maori from the local badass high school. My partner (who would dress entirely in Aussie flag themed attire if he could), sang along beautifully as well.
A wish for the future – that the ceremony would mention the role of women and families, and the impact of war on the community. There are plenty of soldiers in my family, including an ANZAC and a youngest son who died in Sandakan. Also a member of the Czech resistance and another youngest son – a Ukrainian who perished, location unknown, in WW2. My Grandfathers both suffered from Post Traumatic Shock, one became an alcoholic and caused no end of trouble for my Gran. The other was an overzealous disciplinarian, I remember when he died, trying to make a connection with my Dad but unable to make the necessary amends.
And the mothers! Anna Honcharova who spent her whole life waiting for Pavel to return. Did he die of the cold? Of injuries or illness? Of hunger? Was he one of the severely injured who was too ashamed to return home? Where was he?
And dear Eileen Evangeline Chase Morris McGregor – her darling Robbie died at Sandakan, nearly at the end of WWII. She was such a tough old stick, but would tear up whenever she remembered him, how they sent parcels of food to him via the Red Cross, but that it never reached him.
I wish we could hear more stories and poems from these perspectives on ANZAC Day.