Poetry for the Seasons from South Africa

Isobel De Gruchy of South Africa gives permission for these beautiful poems and her accompanying drawings which will by included in her forthcoming book Between Heaven and Earth Poems, Prayers, Pictures Resource Publishers, Eugene Oregon

Boat on Duiwenhoks River

Boat on Duiwenhoks River

All Rivers Flow to the Sea

That all rivers flow to the sea is true – in one sense,
but this river flows to my right as I sit,
and then it flows to my left.
At one time it flows to the sea,
at another it flows from the sea.

The clump of broken reeds that floated downstream
returns floating upstream,
just like the pied kingfisher who flashed past
skimming the water at dawn, will flash past
in the other direction at day’s end.
For at this spot the river ebbs and flows with the tide.

How like a river is my mind –
Some thoughts flow straight into the sea:
briefly they appear, flow past and are gone.
Like the pied kingfisher they may return again,
or elusive and showy, they may even settle
on the branch of a tree
long enough to be observed.

Other thoughts, worrying, tiresome, draining,
like broken reeds, endlessly flow past,
disappearing downstream,
only to reappear floating upstream,
when I wish they would be lost forever
in the vastness of the ocean.

But there comes a still point at the turning of the tide,
When there is no movement,
No flowing, no change.
Only quiet.
Catch the stillness and hold it to your heart.
It lasts but a moment.



May is the Month for Mushrooms

May is the month for mushrooms,
their soft flesh bursting from nothing into being,
magically pushing through the earth
in clusters or in fairy rings,
large orange skirted ones under the pines,
tiny russet ones on rough ground
aping the pebbles they grow among.

May is the month for mists,
lying in the valley come morning,
as though the clouds
had dropped down to sleep off the night,
and would not now get out of bed.
Then with the day’s warmth, they slowly stir
and lazily rise, allowing the sun‘s rays
to pierce them through with golden light.

May is the month for mud.
As the sun heads north with its heat,
cold winds herd moisture into dark masses,
until, satiated, they hurl it to the earth
in fierce squalls of rain, transforming the dusty paths
into rivulets and pools of dark, sticky mud.

May is the month for memory.
The days draw in and the nights grow long,
leaving only remembrance of
the perfume and profusion of summer’s blooms.
Come September they will return:
new life from dry seeds or buried bulbs,
but for me there is no return;
my youth was once and is gone.

May is the month for mystery, for who can say
why this should be so.

Camelthorn Tree

Camelthorn Tree

Tree in the Desert

“They are like trees planted by streams of water.” Ps 1:3a
“And the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations.” Rev 22:2

A tree planted by streams of water
flourishes – soaking up easy sustenance,
spreading its luxurious canopy.
Consider then the camelthorn,
shouting defiance from its arid dwelling,
skeletal and brittle in the dry and dusty winter.
It does not wait for the first rains of spring,
but, stretching deep for hidden moisture,
bursts prematurely into its green filigree of life:
Symbol of hope for the promise of rain to come.
Surely its leaves will be for the healing of the nations.

The camelthorn or kameeldoring is an acacia tree of the African bushveld

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