If peacocks made snowflakes, maybe they’d look like this… I was thinking about the mandala calendar for this year and thoughts of winter months inspired this one.
I love the poem Tom wrote for this. It’s all festive swirl and glitter with hidden depths. Tom says: This one has a (very) little of James Joyce’s famous short story “The Dead” in it, which is often touted as the greatest in the English language, although I’d put Kipling’s “The Gardener” up against it. Here’s a link for those who (like me) haven’t read this yet or would like a refresher. http://www.online-literature.com/james_joyce/958/
Kaleidoscopes of winter snow
fall across the icy sky
upon the ladies as they go
to Christmas soirees, “By the by,
I must admit I love that shawl,
with orchids, stars, a forest tall,
it looks so warm and cozy-soft,
like otters snuggled in a croft
beneath a landscape, frozen, cold
where carolers sing songs of joy
their voices by the stillness buoyed
up to the sky’s wide peaceful fold
as stars look down upon our lives:
like blowing snow we swirl and rise.”
This one ended up with a strong somber tone. I’m not sure why since I started with a flower! It’s a mystery. Anyway, the title arose because it felt like etching or metal inlay by the time I was done. We’re nearing the end of summer with autumn starting to give a hint of its cool breath. Perhaps that was in the back of my mind. Someone recently asked me about the meanings of mandalas which I have not studied deeply at all. I imagine that any analysis of my mandalas would say more about my psyche than about the iconography of any particular tradition.
Etched upon the sky’s grey steel
the trees of autumn raise their arms
while burnished roots both hold and heal
warding all from hurt and harm
keeping something in the centre
open, free, a door to enter
from the wind-blown darkling plain
where armies clash in cloud and rain
into a world of peace and strength
that can’t forget the promised spring
where still, perhaps, a bird might sing
while in some burrow, giving thanks,
a woodland creature, small and rare,
dares look out to see what’s there.
The inspiration for mandalas is still strong! I am enjoying sitting (and spending hours and hours) to draw and paint these! Completing the ink work is the longest phase because there is so much detail and then even more fun – deciding on the colour palette to really bring the image alive. Joyful. As usual, this one evolved as I went along. I did not expect the faces until they appeared!
Tom’s poem goes magically along with the image.
Adrift upon a sea of flowers
dreaming softly side by side
turning through this night of ours
as dusk to dawn we gently glide
from face to face within our dreams
trying on each one that seems
to fit the moment or the place
it vanishes without a trace
into the mystery at the centre
where a deeper beauty grows
beneath a lotus, not a rose:
a door where starlight yearns to enter
as we move on to other hours
snuggled here among the flowers.
Have I mentioned it’s been hot here? I continue to have a rather tropical inspiration permeate my work!
Here is a magical poem from Tom …a riff on T.S. Elliot’s “Usk”.
Do not step and break the branch
where snakes slip soft
on forest floor
bright birds dip beaks but not too deep
of ancient mysteries that dwell
down the Amazon
contains the secret
in grey air
a high safe nest
a serpent’s lair
Here is another in this series of meditative mandalas. Again it evolved from the centre into something a bit stranger as it went along! Somehow the elderly ladies seemed right and once they were there, well they were clearly knitting the world! In Greek mythology we usually hear about the Fates weaving but Tom took this and ran with it! His poem is below followed by a short commentary.
Each within her cozy private nook
where a clicking sound is all that breaks
the silence while across the centre looks
are exchanged to judge the give and take
required to hold the world in careful balance
between the lunar turns. Each day the talents
weigh against each other, vying with
the promise of a tangle or a kiss
from the One whose rays fall bright between
as the world’s created stitch by stitch:
plaited, purled, and stockinette are switched
to form the fabric, all that’s never seen.
Behind the famous trio of the Fates
the Elder Aunties patiently await.
Apollo (whose rays fall bright between) got the Fates drunk and tricked them into allowing his friend Admetus to outlive his days. I don’t think the Elder Aunties, each assigned to a lunar month, apparently, would be best pleased.
I did this a few months ago messing around with new ink and various brush techniques – an experimental piece. Recently Tom caught sight of it in my sketch book, got inspired and wrote this delightful poem!
I really rather like it here
upon this little hill
Nothing much is far or near
the air is warm and still
This lovely tree casts shade for me
the view is just sublime
A place to contemplate and see
there is no truth but time
Its passage measures all the ways
we learn, forget, and change
Marking out our years and days
which always seems quite strange
For we have only just enough
to do what we must do
So fill it well with love and stuff
and contemplate what’s true.
I sat down and started doodling in watercolour a few days ago. Usually, I start with the ink drawing, but this time the inking was done last. Perhaps it’s not surprising that this mandala is mostly plant motifs after spending lots of time recently hiking and enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Even the green plums were inspired by fruit I saw ripening beside the sidewalk this week. It’s a very rich time of year! …the watchful eyes …well Tom responded to those in his delightful poem – which is where I took the title.
In this garden of delight
where peaches hang and chances might
be taken under watchful eyes
I’m feeling bold and not so wise
as to let the moment pass
and so I bend to kiss a lass
when from behind a tree there sounds
a soft “meow”, the voice rebounds
from tree to branch to leaf to stem
and where was one there now is “them”:
a panoply of watchers wild
who leave us both for now beguiled
by gazes focused, clear, intense
instilling just a bashful sense
of standing naked in the light
of creatures who have walked the night
and yet we two still turn and kiss
for moments pass, and might be missed.