The Rituals of our Remembering

In the shadow of Autumn
In the season that invites retreat
With red leaves shed like tears
To pool beneath
The ages old arms
Of ages old trees
We light a candle
 
We light a candle for you
Who loved the flickering promise
That dances in the flame’s orange-blue heart
 
We light a candle to remember you
And the long winding past of all the mothers who came before
Present in every cell of our children
And their ancestors to come
Connected across the seasoned rhythm of time
 
In the rituals of our remembering
We light a candle
A touchstone to the natural order of things
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
But for a moment
Bright, alight, full of life
Dancing against the inevitable darkness of the night

Sharlene Zeederberg, in memory of Jenny.
(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

The Roads we Travel

This is the road
The yellow brick road
The highway road
The speedy road
The road down which we run
Towards the mirage of some future self
The self we would become
 
This is the road
The barren road
The straight and narrow road
The road that leads us on
To the walled city of our ambition
To the place where we belong
 
This the road down which we march
With heavy hearts 
And a purposeful, determined air
Awareness fixed solidly on the horizon
And the promises lingering there
 
This is the road on which we gamble
Every breath of life
Eyes on the prize,
Desperate to arrive
To shout with triumphant decree
I am here
Let me in
I am here
Let my life begin
 
This is the road 
To the distant land of hopes and dreams
The land of tomorrow’s imaginings
 
Did you trip, did you fall?
Did you wonder at the emptiness of it all?
Or did you stop and hear nature call?
And in the silent stillness see
At last
The criss-crossed tracks
Of opportunity
Lightly pressed into the fabric of the universe
Inviting traces to unknown places
As faint as smoke
As revealing as curiosity
 
Did you suddenly awake to find
That is not the only road for your mind
That is not the only way
To traverse life
To move from yesterday to tomorrow
To deal with all her inbuilt joy and sorrow
 
There are other pathways to explore
Other ways to think and be and more
Other ways to find yourself
Not at the centre of it all
Not at the centre at all.
 
Here the narrow path
Turns sandy underfoot  
Washed fresh by the prana of the sea
The pulsing beginning of you and me
Eons older than our collective memory
 
There the steep incline to breathless mountain tops
That almost touch the sky
Reward the explorer with a vista
Full of galaxies that stretch beyond the breadth of human time
Yet fill the human eye
 
And here and there
And everywhere
The moss-covered lanes that stumble into the silence of forests
Where the whispers of ancient contemplation
Echo in your footsteps  
And every breath you take connects you
with the beginning and end of time,
And every breath taken in between
By every living thing
Of which you are merely one moment
In an endless stream

Sharlene Zeederberg - Covid Poems (2020)
 
 
 
 

Thought Rising

I am nebulous
A fistful of dreams
As wispy as air
Rising like steam
 
I am the salt
On a sea breeze
Cascading over rocks
With thunderous ease
 
I hover in the sound
of crickets at night
Linger in the palette  
of day’s ending light
 
I rise on the roar
of a lion newly sated
And rest in the soporific stupor
Of the recently mated
 
I am distraction, obsession,
blandness
Purpose, possession,
The seeds of madness
 
I am passion and boredom entangled
A stream of consciousness chaotically mangled
I am the focus that comes from a scream
And the hazy contemplation of last night’s dream
And laundry and bills and self-esteem
 
I am the tip, the edge, the whole
The all, the nothing
The gentle unfolds
Of tomorrow
 
I am the fuel that keeps
Curiosity burning
Anxiety curdling
Dreams unfurling
 
I am thought
Rising unbidden.
 

The Birds Still Sing

In the dappled shadows
Beneath the leaves of
Mangrove trees that breathe in
Sunlight and saltwater
I walk
And slow my breath
 
And in the stillness
Of that moment
Against the silver gleam of green
Grass shimmering 
Wet with morning dew
I hear the birds sing
 
A hundred different sounds fill the sky
Whistles and twitters
Warbles and chitters
A wondrous symphony
swoops and swirls
And falls like gentle rain
Onto my ears
Tuned away from chaotic fears
 
There is a rose
That captures my eye
A red blossom cupped to the sky
The gentle scent, I suppose,
Reminds me of the papery skin
Of my grandmother
On a farm
In the middle of long ago
With her pantry stocked for months on end
And a garden of vegetables to tend
And a shelf full of homemade biscuits
 
History is recorded in the past
But lived in the present
Or in the imagined days of tomorrow
But come back now, here to now
For the birds still sing
And the grass is still green
And red roses still turn their heads to the sun
And today’s script is yet to be written

Then I breathe

When anxiety comes upon me
Like a fluttering little bird
Wings beating against the cage of my chest
 
Then I breathe
 
I breathe the calming breath of nature’s forever connection
From the stars that birth the building blocks of us
To the leaves that sway in the breeze
 
I breathe into the space between things
The space between the you and the me
The space between the me and the trees
The space between the womb and the grave
And all the things we perceive
As separate.
 
And nature breathes with me
She ripples in the wind
The invisible wind
That caresses your skin
And the curve of my cheek
As we watch the waves rise and recede
Standing on the beach made from a thousand yesterdays

Bridging the boundary
That is but an illusion
Of time
And ego
And perception
 
I breathe into the space of invisible connection
I breathe away the illusion of the space between
I breathe stillness into the fluttering wings of the shuddering bird
Caught in the cavity of my chest.
 
 Sharlene Zeederberg, Feb 2020

On trains…

Photo by runzi zhu on Unsplash

Out of the settling dusk
It glides into the station
A metal snake with screeching breath
Disgorging a tumble of people from its warm belly
 
I step inside the beast
Into air thick with a day’s activity,
Rigid ribs of seats hold weary bodies
All wrapped up in virtual worlds
 
A fetid tinge of alcohol, the rustle of a paper bag
Waft through the carriage
 
Beyond the reflections of heads bent on phones
Flickering images of night rush by
Darkness punctuated by red full stops
that leak from their edges
And bright rectangles of light,
Lined up like platoons,
In the clatter of a faster train
On its own straight and narrow gauge
 
The rhythmic clicking of machinery in action
The beating heart of progress
Slows to a reassuring hum
And with a screech and the slight
bump of inertia
we arrive at a brightly lit station
 
And I am myself disgorged
into the waiting arms of home.

I saw you and I loved you

I saw you and I loved you

From the moment that we met

Even if I didn’t know what love meant then

And sometimes still forget.

 

We connected in an exploding star

Your heart and mine,

And travelled separately and together through space

To this time and this place.

 

I know this because I feel the universe

Inside my love for you

A vast expanse that knows no bounds

And expands ever into them.

 

I resonate, I do

At an intimately infinite level

In time with your own unique vibration

Because we are two halves of one whole

Formed in the same fiery furnace

In time’s violent beginnings

 

And sometimes I catch my breath

With the sudden realisation

Of the perpetuity of our connection

A silver thread that transcends reality.

 

Here and now we’ve grown together

Like two trees

Wound our trunks around each other

Over coffee and chores and

Before the cry of offspring and school reports,

Over tequila shots and greasy breakfasts

And broken hearts and the struggle for self-identity.

And yet, here we still stand

 

Yes, here we stand

On the edge of now

With tomorrow ahead and yesterday behind

On the edge of this moment here

A million possible moments in this very moment

And I know

I know in the very make up of my matter

That my love for you extends across infinitude

And bad moods

To all those universes where you and I might dance a different dance

And make different choices or live different lives

Or perhaps we’ve not even met, yet.

And still we were born in the same star

And we create infinite music together.

c Sharlene Zeederberg, March 2018