Bees in Lavender

Words and images © Lizzie Ballagher

Bees in Lavender

stems sea-green or silver-green are spiked
with royalty
oozing an oil that draws the fire
of bees:
flare of smoked-glass wings dusted with pollen,
prickle of honeyed buzzing—
so quick—
furred in dark bands
sun bands
they move unceasingly
to light’s choreography
in lazy heat

their glossy velvet flickers lightning
and their hum
in the lavender
is thunder

© Lizzie Ballagher

National Poetry Day 2019 – just for fun

Marooned
 She’d sat already far too long on the beach:
so long she was as desiccated
as the coconuts beyond those fringing palms
so long she’d gotten bored
with her old friends gold-legged starfish
who had entertained her,
miscounting aloud each other’s fingers & toes
& quarrelling far into the night,
so long the desert island novelty had worn clean off
& she had read to the end of the Bible
& the Complete Works of Shakespeare
smashed her wretched desert island discs
drowned them all in despair until
   just as she’d thought of giving up                  wading out
to perform some crazed act of sacrifice
to grinning sharks (who might have enjoyed
her iconoclastic sense of humour
as well as her fingers & ten pink toes)
   the waves rose frothing up
presented her—
right into her outstretched hand—
with a bottle:
no sparkling South Sea bubbly
no fisherman’s tall tales on fractured parchment
of albatrosses painted oceans
no luscious vintage    from distant California
no irksome lovelorn messages
but a genie uncurling gorgeously, ready
to unroll a magic carpet & transport her
out of her ennui
out of the hallucinating desert island & its hackneyed discs
out of the paperback novel she’d been living now for oh so long
to lacklustre grit & greyness, the smog & streaming cars & cabs
of Manhattan or maybe Maida Vale in fog-soaked March
to where at least she understood
the colourless weight of working weekdays:
the kind that did not ask of her so much imagination.
Words and images © Lizzie Ballagher

May-time Haiku

What is it about this time of year (in the northern hemisphere, at least) that inspires hope? The newness of green leaves? The plans for summer and autumn travels? The freshness of opening flowers? All of these and more?

And in the midst of all the bursting and calling out, the explosion of music and colour, suddenly we hear small, hidden voices…

from honeysuckle:

faint cries of new-hatched finches

breaking blue eggshells

Words and image © Lizzie Ballagher

Glorious Friday

On this day every year people say, “What’s so good about Good Friday?”—a question I consider quite often these days.

So here’s my attempt to address this painful, deeply paradoxical question.

Glory, Glory
A star bathed shepherds’ hills in light
The night that Christ was born—
Was this the glory of God?

Stone jars of water turned to wine
At Cana on that wedding day:
And was this the glory of God?

The lame man walked. The blind could see.
The leper left his sores behind.
So was this the glory of God?

The women grieved & Jesus wept.
Then Lazarus was restored to life.
Was this not the glory of God?

Under waving palms & cheering cries
He rode a humble donkey colt.
Surely this was the glory of God?

Stripped to a loincloth,
Nailed to a tree,
Shamed before friend & foe—

He was lifted high
On a cruel cross.
Does glory shine out here?

The temple curtain tore in two.
The voice of His Father was heard.
Glory. Glory!—more than ever in this world.

Stripped to a loincloth,
Nailed to the tree,
This—even this—was the glory of God.

© Words Lizzie Ballagher.  Image of Lampedusa Cross © Trustees of the British Museum only, used by permission.