This Ruined House

As I was easing into poetry practice this morning I was minded of what the late Dermot Healey said in a poetry masterclass I attended many years ago. “Reading is also writing.” We go to other writers for inspiration and reflection. (Maria Popova’s blog “Brain Pickings” is a little oasis to visit.) That is what I did this morning. I picked up the anthology “The Poetry Pharmacy” (ed. William Sieghart, Particular Books) and dipped into it at random. I read two short poems, one by J.R.R. Tolkien, which has a killer final line, “Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” (All that is Gold Does Not Glitter). But the one that captured my imagination was a short poem (Although the Wind) by Izumi Shikibu, translated by a poet I much admire, Jane Hirshfield, together with Mariko Aratami. The title of today’s poetry practice is taken from the final line of that five line, tanka. Living in the Irish countryside this had a particular resonance.

Of  This Ruined House

Ivy is a strangler.
Once let into mortar
it's the last in a series
of assaults.
Once there was passion
here, and thunder.
Then duty went derelict.
The roof caved in,
though the chimney
still stands.

Stone flagging and slates
long ago did
a midnight flit.
They whisper family secrets
still in some suburban
patio floor.
They've planted ivy
in some plastic tubs,
training it to climb
up the back gable wall.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved
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