Tuesday Poem – To you who follow, by Helen Bascand from her new book “time to sing before the dark”

We have broken things,
in particular, this sky –

not content with steeples, thrust
our dwellings higher, raised a maze
of fences, stolen the backyards.

We are the generation collecting
a second family car.

So we leave you the highways.
You will get there faster, miss
the byways, the shepherd
on his four-wheeler, shifting mobs, the farmer,
his lumbering cows ambling by – you’d smell
the sweet heat of their hide.

Or will you picnic by a river, idly
pick a stone to read its rough
smooth message?

Please God, we leave you beaches.

Will you stand ankle-deep in sea, watch
a shoal of silver fingerlings dart and weave

like a silken scarf caught in some liquid wind?

Helen Bascand 1929-2015

To those who follow, is published with permission from Joanna Preston, Helen’s friend and literary executor.  It was Joanna who completed the task of editing and assembling Helen’s fifth and posthumous, poetry collection. “time to sing before the dark.” This book has yet to be launched so we are fortunate to share this taste. Joanna sent me three poems to choose from. Thank you! I chose the above for its powerful and loving farewell to us all.
One sees immediately that Helen Bascand’s poetic language sparks with originality, for example from the poem ‘Sleep and Wake,’ about the Canterbury quake…
the groan of a split earth,
a woman birthing, a new river
carving, squeezed in a valley between
the rock walls. The floor creaks.
I have now received a copy of the book itself. Reading it, I felt overwhelmed by a voice that is strong yet sensitive; fearless, yet not foolhardy in her approach to life, clear but with a deep understanding of life’s mysteries.  Someone with a powerful sense of where she is from and where she is headed. ‘One dandelion head in it’s withering time.’ Helen doesn’t need harsh words to write about tough times. Her authenticity comes from the fact that she is not afraid to write truth with beauty. The two are inseparable. She is also a perfect example of the ‘show don’t tell’ that many writers struggle with.
Biography in Brief: Helen Bascand 1929-2015, was a stalwart of the Canterbury poetry scene – a long-time member of Airing Cupboard Women Poets, one of the founders of the Small White Teapot Haiku Group, and the author of four previous poetry collections. She was working on the poems of time to sing before the dark when she died. What a loss she is but how thankful we can be that she chose Joanna as her literary executor. This is a book made with love…an affair of family and friends. It shows.
To read about the book and /or order a copy go here. 
To read Joanna’s thoughts on editing her friend’s book go here.
From banana boxes to a beautiful book. A wonderful achievement.

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