Friday, 14 September 2018

a little ritual

I am become a creature of rituals in my dotage ... little rituals, I find, bestow a measure of order and calm in the chaos of all that, which cannot be controlled

my favorite ritual is my after supper lemon balm tea ... as I make it tonight, the girl with the sky blue bag, beaded with butterflies, comes to me

several years ago, my back went into spasm ... that, by way of explanation,  is how I ended up in a hospital emergency ward sitting next to the girl with the beautiful hand stitched purse

I noticed her breathing – great spasmatic gasps – before I put it together that she was in an agony far beyond mine – which had not wrung a single tear from me

when she caught my sideways glance she shrugged and wiped her eyes and whispered ... 'Life.'

I nodded – my spirit – deeply sympatico having, myself, not entirely, been spared the hard blows of anguish and despair ... silently, I wished I could make her a cup of lemon balm tea or, possibly, camomile would better suit for drying tears

~ ~ ~
there is a ritual to tea …
there is the whistle of the kettle, which in my house is bright red …
there is the pouring of hot water over leaves …
there is the fragrant steam – wafts of transportive magic in the enchanted still –  
and in that moment, for all I know, The Bloomsbury Group could be a breath away from my front door – just in time for tea and biscuits and a rousing read through a passage of A Room with a View or, perhaps, Mrs. Dalloway

then, of course, there is the cuppa ...
the cozy warmth that it imparts cradled in hands ...
the aromatic tendrils of vapour that have wisped round every snug and mellow scene ever painted on canvas or on page …

and finally ... the finale-of-the-sips, that are said-by-some to restore the harshest day and soothe the jaggedest of nerves – a reputation I subscribe to with single-minded resolve, lest questioning diminish the potency of assuaging properties

~ ~ ~

'I wish I could make you tea,' I spoke gently, by way of acknowledging her pain …

she smiled a wet smile, then, and said: 'Do you think it would help'

'Sometimes little things help a little bit,' I responded, my finger alighting momentarily upon one of her butterflies, perched on the arm of the chair between us … 'and a little bit is better than nothing'

she tilted her head slightly, thoughtfully, it seemed and sighed, 'Yes ... I think so, too … A little bit better is better than nothing' 

Photo: A window of the Bloomsbury Park where Mike and I stayed on a trip to London  - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke  

Friday, 7 September 2018

water under the bridge

three a.m. ... I awaken wondering
if I will drift away to slumber …
once more ... before
I hear the chirp of birds

'water under the bridge'
my sister often remarks
when conversations trip upon
that which is done
and cannot be undone …

she is blessed
with the gift of serenity …
one of the lucky
who can summon forth peace
in such a thing as a metaphor –
an enchanted magic
I have yet to master …
though not for lack of trying

the hobgoblins begin to stir
jostled by the curse
of a restless mind
into that groggy befuddled state
before the slapstick race

I calm them with my breaths …
they settle and roll over

deeper ... deeper ... I let go
and all the hard edges soften in the still
and fall away... and in that easy darkness

the metaphor finds me …
I am standing – burdenless –
in the middle of the bridge ... below

the water flows ... it flows without
a thing from me ... what mad folly it would be …

to turn back to where I had come from

Photos:  Wooden Trestle Bridge near Osprey Lake - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

a good companion - a tanka sequence

sounds of loved ones
chortle from the lake –
alone in the cottage
I hear their voices ...
now near … now far

wild flowers
gathered by family
… a bouquet to the window scene beyond ...
sometimes into the blue
there comes a buoyant bliss

at moments such as this
solitude is a good companion ...
it breezes in
with a gift –
unfurls light-as-air wings
and chuckles

Photo:  From the Cottage at Osprey Lake - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke 

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

tomorrow is a new day

let us now
roll up the rug of the day and carry it out of doors to freshen and
restore it, in good breezes

let us
give it a bracing, and invigorating shake, as we check for stains  
removing them as best we can

let us
repair unravelling places with practiced stitches, taking care to do so,

let us, then
hang it from the railings of the deck and beat it with a broom and leave it
to billow free in twilight

so that when
we bring it back into our home once more, not a single stale and hardened
crumb remains­ to trail into the morrow's prospects for a pristine, clean-swept,
well-kept, start … of a new day

Photo:  Relaxing at End of Day on Osprey Lake - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 9 August 2018

it dawned THAT SUMMER

eons ago … when flora, infused moments … with a blithe defining spirit
that wafted round the last of childhood's summers … the smell of fresh
mowed grass and earth and garden-green and sweet peas … was mine

on this scorcher of a day – held, as I am – in slabs of gray concrete, buffeted
by electrically spun breezes, that – which was mine – comes to me, again …
bittersweet … by virtue of its long-away … and yet … it returns, on a breath

there were bouquets of commitment and vases of amends and corsages of
achievement … there were buttercups of affection and sunflower fields but …
even so, the essence of that halcyon sublimity arrives once more, as new-as-now

there were hard lessons to swallow down – bad fish to starving men – there was
rage against tyranny, might and money … there was  beauty and compassion
and justice … there was love … occasionally, there was a hope or a dream

sweet peas,  a-rambling in tendrils, entwined, on a staff of strings – colourful
notes to an opening prelude – in sips of cold water and good music and the
spell of a great book … in the sunny comfort and enthrall of home's backyard

the joy of finding oneself at the dawn of connectedness to a stirring soul … when
childish things fall away and our eyes are opened, with thrilling clarity, to all that
is there … for me:  THAT SUMMER … ah yes, I remember it well … it is, mine, still

graphic:  Sweet Peas (photo artwork) - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

water lily lesson

back when moments
sparkled on lyrical breaths,
I summered as a child,
on hawkeye lake

and in that place,
there were lily pads
upon which, lovely white
lily blooms drifted …
enchanting as a fairy tale

one day, my cousin and I
decided to play in that
mermaid other world,
until, in laughing splashes,
we heard my aunt yelling
from the beach, for us
to get out of there

we were warned never
to go to the lily pads again,
for, she explained, the lilies
only seemed to float, in fact,
long stems snaked down
below the deep dark water

and rooted to the lake bottom …
a tangly trap, waiting to ensnare
all those who go there with
no understanding of what perils
they are getting mixed up in

photos:  Lily Pad Place, Osprey Lake, Okanagan Similkameen District, BC  (W. Bourke)

© 2018 Wendy Bourke 

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Chinese Garden in the City

the garden
rises from the concrete
amid the shops of Chinatown ...
a Ming Dynasty courtyard ...
mystical far east magic ...
in the middle of this western city

the peace and serenity
compel me to sit ... protected
from evil spirits ... breathing in
green breezes that gently lap
round the leafy sprites dancing
on gently curved rooftops ...
I neither look forward ... nor back
I am good ... in this good place

the smallest things intrigue ...
a lily pad, the bend of a branch ...
even the shadows cast beauty ...
jade water lightly splashes over rocks ...
I hear the tinkle of wooden wind chimes ...
in this place ... there is poetry ... everywhere

note:  Inspired by a visit to the stunning Dr Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver – the first Chinese garden built outside of China and by a longer work entitled 'Garden Trilogy', that I first penned in 2013,  This poem was published  in the Anthology:  Delicate Impact (Beret Days Press), Summer 2018.  

photos:  Dr Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 20 July 2018

Home from the Lake

Staring at the blank page, I attempt to clear my mind

The last ember vestiges of a wonder full camping holiday 
have sputtered out … and like so many lovely things – come and gone – 
the memories  at first, a fiery valhalla burst  have, already floated
into that dreamlike ethereality ... there to remain: scorched scraps 
forever awaiting spark and stir

So soon, home from the lake,  two enormous bug bites on my ankle
itching to be scratched – feature more prominently in my consciousness,
than those happy days at water's edge

~ ~ ~

We arrived home to heavy news – batches of heavy news

I have found that life is often like that … it frolics along
in gladdening paces until – from time to time –
it comes to a patch of murky fog ... and stops dead in its tracks

There ... we ruminate and process and grapple about in the muddle ...
searching ... searching for the way back to pleasance .... as if, 
there might, just be a technique, to lift the blasted smog, faster …

A set of get-on-with-it instructions – specific to each vexation – would be nice ...
though, all too often, the sunless gloom is not ours to control  
but rather, the creation of another … sometimes we are not even known,
to the source of our troubles

The egotistical, self-serving conduct of our fellow mortals, in my experience,
visits far more anguish upon the prospects of a day, than any folly

one could ever contrive to place upon one's own head

 ~ ~ ~

My love delivers a fresh cup of coffee to the side table where I sit ... 
PEOPLE, I mutter contemptuously

He nods in agreement, as he bends to administer a half hug to my shoulders ...
Indeed, he whispers conspiratorially, people

photo:  Osprey Lake, Okanagan Similkameen District, BC  (H. Bourke)

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 28 June 2018

righteous path - a tanka prose piece

I happened upon an old rerun of the 60's TV series 'Star Trek' a couple of nights ago.  How depressing it was to take that cinemagraphic stroll, down memory lane.  Ostensibly an adventure series, Gene Roddenbury, the show's creator, intended the program to showcase morality tales; allegories of modern day realities.  The protagonists would proceed in their dealings, peacefully  with altruism and acceptance  thus demonstrating the very best of what humankind is capable of.  The Starship Enterprise's voyages played out in stories that championed the principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality.

Antecedent to the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing, the show seemed to herald an era when human understanding and technological advances would come together on a path imbued with more righteousness, than any path that had ever been trod before.   When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon and uttered the words: " ... one small step for man", how fervently we 'earthlings' wanted to believe ... we were  at least  making small steps, in that good direction.

The 20th century marked more technological changes than all the other centuries in the history of this planet, combined.  Having been born in 1951  midway through the 20th century  I took my early footsteps in what is, arguably, one of the most fascinating, progressive, dynamic  and yes:  turbulent, monstrous and challenging periods, in our earth's history.  Those words " ... one small step for man",  have resonated with me, throughout the days of my life ... often beating  like a metaphor  to forward progress ... and often  beating  like a metaphor  to backward regression.  I remind myself that my lifetime is but, a grain of sand, in the sands of time.   I live  and will die in the hope that many … many … many ... small steps will, eventually, find their way … to that righteous path.  

on the beach
the shifting sands
erase my footprints
as I walk
to water's edge

note:  scientists believe that the earth has existed for approximately 4.5 billion years. 

photo:  Sands of Time (photo of Patrick's boots on the sands of Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC)  - W. Bourke 

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 7 June 2018



it was a sky blue

gainfully spent marketing
... and yet ...
frittered away

drifting in aromas
and wafts of sweet bouquets
and seas of produce,
 teas and spices ...
and trays and trays

of fresh baked cookies ...
fresh baked pastries ...
fresh baked cakes, pies,
buns and breads ...

crocks and bins of antipasta ...
olives, oils ... and herbed spreads

we purchased
capellina and parmigiana,
we would toss ...
with molto grande meatballs,
in thick tomato homemade sauce ...

and a bottle of Chianti
and spumoni ice cream cones ...
and a dozen bright white dahlias
to light our way back home

photos:  Saturday - top 2 pics taken at Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver - W. Bourke

© 2013 Wendy Bourke