Poetry Shelf Spring Season’s poetry fans: Dionne Christian picks Bernard Gadd

 

birches

for the fortieth season
three silver birches
one after the other
suddenly turn
sun’s light green

all evening
between silver birch leaves
firework trails
and in the quiet house
a smell of smoke

luckily birch
bark or leaves
are useless
for writing on
and later regret

ah comrade
Odysseus, you and I
forever stare
through birch branches
at Sirens and seas

will we fell the brich
taking sun
from the house,
the huge tree
old as us?

we keep a big yard:
lawns where infants run,
“forests” of shrubs,
birch trees for cats
and children to climb

each pulse
is a triumph
just when encouragement’s
needed the silver birch
shows green hearts

catching my breath
watch layers of clouds
behind the tree
rush this way or that
or drift in icy calm​

©Bernard Gadd, Ash Moon Anthology, Eds. Alexis Rotella and Denis M Garrison (Baltimore, Maryland: Modern English Tanka Press, 2008.

 

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Note from Dionne: This is a poem which might not, at first, speak of spring. It talks of being old and melancholy, watching the world pass by through windows, and yet each spring the birch trees come to life and renew your own spirit. these birch trees were outside the study where my father-in-law worked and kept his extensive collection of poetry books. When the house was sold, the first thing the new owners did was to chop them down.

 

Dionne Christian is the arts and books editor at the New Zealand Herald newspaper. She has worked for 30 years as a journalist on staff and as a contributor for magazines and newspapers; she has a keen interest in literature, history and the arts.

Bernard Gadd wrote poetry, fiction, plays, and was a reviewer. He was also a teacher, editor, anthologist, and publisher known for his pioneering work in the classroom, championing the use of local stories to inspire students.

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