Spring Equinox- March 2016

the Earth raises her chin,
and puts an even face to the sun.

Drops her tailbone to feel
the straightening of her spine
As a plumb line hanging in infinity.

Raises herself on curling toes
locks her eyes
throws out a leg,

And pirouettes.

She’s up on her points
suspending time.

All that idle talk about our sun,
that ‘rises in the east, and sets in the west’
Is only true today.

Only today,
her spinning is a pause
in which
the earth resets itself

And day and night sit evenly on the scales.


in France,
it’s still a forlorn sepia world
I walk out into.

Of lichen and moss and rock
Cold, hard things.

Leaves cling to petrified trees
like rags on a beggar.
Hollow, flaking branches
Perish to dust on the ground.

The sticky mud coffins the winter damp.

But still,
there’s a warm tease in the breath of wind
that catches my cheek,
and ruffles my hair.
Lavender and thyme on her breath
A whisper of  seduction.
A promise of life.

slicing through like a blade
chill air from the poles
breaks up the party. 
Leave it out. Leave it out. We’re not there yet.

The equinox tussle.


And the Earth?
She turns us so fast that we are paralysed.
Caught in the spell of this day.


But I know
that Nature. The Artist. 
Besotted by colour,
is preparing her paints.

Mixing great vats of them.

On the mountainside I see
She has spattered
a dash of violet here,
jonquil yellow there.
Sprayed pink and white
through the hedge.

Tenderly blotted each spilled drop with a cloth
Fanning it out to the petal whorl.

Grape hyacinch here,
march marigold there.
And the cherry blossom
running wild in the hedge.


A Japanese man I meet buying bread
holds his breath as he tells me that
the whole of that nation
hangs on news
of the sweep south
of the cherry blossom front.

Broadcasters agitate over
first petals sighted
in the north of the country.
Five to six flowers opening
On sample tree fifty-three

Poets sits at the trunks,
hog-bristle brushes poised,
Lips parted to receive
the seventeen sounds.

At dinner,
an Indian friend
sighs, doe-eyed, over memories
of crowds gathering in Mumbai
dizzy with expectation.
Clutching plastic zip bags
gaudily coloured powders.

Young men pacing
like athletes on the blocks
tying handkerchiefs into triangle masks
flexing their throwing wrists.
And arching their backs
to relieve the growing pressure
in their groins.


And then what?
The spell of the day cannot last forever.
The sap will rise. 


There comes a moment
when the Earth feels the strain,
and the position can no longer be held.
She must adjust her line.

She releases her cramping leg
tilts her back
raises her face imperceptibly towards the sun.

With the pouring out of daylight
All hell breaks loose on the earth.

In France,
fierce heat on mountain tops
melts snow.

The run-off swells streams,
reanimates the bodies of animals
sending them scampering
beside themselves

In Japan,
a cascade of burgeoning blossom
awakens cries of delight.
The newscaster skips
and the haiku poet trembles
as he hiccups the words
“This dewdrop world
Is but a dewdrop world
And yet —” 


In India,
with the whistle
and jeer
and surge of the crowd
paint is scooped, slung- shot, wrist flicked
tipped, and blown.
It cakes laughing mouths
clogs ears and nostrils
coats skin that it will take a month to scrub clean.

Scarlet, gold and indigo explode in the sky
like fireworks
then drop silent as falling stars.

A world bursting into bloom.


When daylight fades on the equinox dance
the sap keeps rising
and rising.
Life turning over
to reveal her dark underbelly.

In France,
in my dusky garden
stray cats screech
and fight to the death
for the right to force themselves on one another

In Japan,
a man stabs his neighbour
to possess number thirty-three.
The most beautiful cherry tree.

In India,
In the shadows
Gangs of young men
Pant crimson like dragons.

Young women, rainbow-dyed
sense danger
scuttle indoors
Pull bolts.  And huddle.
As the pack
stealing permission from the festival
howls in pursuit.

Laughing and cursing,
shoulders batter front doors
To gain entry.
To claim the predator’s prize.