Provençal song

There are slivers of colour in my life.
The 18 months I lived in Provence, doing a lot of growing up, pushing out my edges, shutting down the well-trained conforming voice in my head, meandering from my beloved Aix-en-Provence through tiny villages from Roussillon to Jouques, knocking my heart on every sharp edge and just being alive.
provenceI did a lifetime’s worth of learning here, under a sky so gorgeously blue it drenched my poems and dreams.
I spent long minutes gazing at wisterias heavy with violet-blue. It stops time.
Exploring weekend markets where farmers and witches meet, and you could buy sun-soaked courgette flowers (delicious when lightly battered and fried in butter) or magic herbs to flavour soups and teas or draw love to you.
Summers filled with dazzling music festivals, my most unforgettable being a magical piano recital surrounded by centenary redwoods and sycamores at the Parc du Château de Florans.
There were lonely winter days too, cocooned by the scent of thyme and honey.
Long drives down nameless country roads where when you stopped your car in the dead of night and turned off your headlights, a whole other universe came alive with a million, tiny stars and the mighty song of cicadas.
This is where I discovered the sky, listened to the whispers of the clouds swept into bold, creamy folds by the unforgiving mistral.
Where I noticed patterns in tiny pond ripples and the random gathering of dead leaves.
Today, a thousand miles and selves away, I heard my old Provençal song in a mandala of petals.

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A light story, Tokyo

transparence1A path leads to the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, one of the favourite destinations for hatsumōde (the first shrine visit and prayer of the new year). Bordered by thick green, grey foliage that lets hints of light skitter across the dusty path. Feet kick up the dust so that the air and light create a shadow show. On that day, magnificent, transparent ice sculptures watched us as we made our way toward the main torii. They sat still in the sun, throwing the light about and dripping dainty puddles in the dust. Their transparency made them blend into the winter trees but the light made them shine from within. There were mermaids, chameleons, phoenixes, warriors and dragons in the most intricate detail. As I was admiring a beautiful dragonfly glittering in the sun, his melting wing fell off and hit the ground with a dull thud. The crowd shared a murmur of dismay. “What a pity!” someone said. Yet, its creator knew full well while he was chiseling and carving that every stroke was destined to disappear in a few hours in the sun. I’ve been pondering ever since what motivates us to pour energy and love into a fleeting void?

With chisel and grinder
he chases the sharp, eloquent
8.20 am light into the ice,
one scale and petal at a time,
teasing eyes and tongue from indifference.
How much of himself
given to his frozen mid-action chameleon
who will sit on the edge of the Meiji Jingu forest,
one hundred thousand old trees watching it
softening – too quickly – satiated with dancing winter beams?

I think of us, carved from such fragile substances
as shared moments and love
with such care and tenderness, knowing
that as soon as it is recognizable, beautiful
the sharp, eloquent 8.20 am light
will melt our wings away and
leave us with only stories,
precious stories.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.