Dominic Harbinson has been a part-time poet and writer for 40 years, passionate about the preciousness of life and often transfixed by its beauty.
He’ll quite happily spend ages shaping prose and trying to catch poems and sifting through a locker full of stuff from days spent living in Australia, Brazil, India, Massachusetts, Tokyo, and China.
He and his wife run a busy Chinese medicine clinic in Canterbury, England.
Tsuyu (梅雨) Rainy Season Sketches (Tokyo)
See the seething streets of Shibuya
on the gleaming hide of the night;
how the lights on the wet pavements there
all glisten and reflect like scales
on shifting shoals of fish
while in the back lanes
you walk home umbrellaed
trees and bushes drip.
And as you pass the park wall,
a luscious, plump and unseen ajisai
(a hydrangea flower-ball) low-bowed at this
abundance of Pacific water-blessings
gently bumps you in the gut.
You grin. Get back with soaked socks.
Lie listening as the fine rain drops
softly on your tiled roof,
trickles away in gutter and downpipes.
Delightful each morning it is to see
(when I’m up and bringing in tea)
the million ways your freed hair has
of arranging itself on the pillow.
Beguiling is your soft palm curled
in sleep and how your face in repose
nestles in that pocket of warmth
at the mouth of your duvet burrow.
Wonderful the heart’s ease
in your half-asleep embrace,
the oceanic depths of its peace
through which suns pass, moons pass.
Blesséd is the touch of each fortunate
moment anchored with you here in this deep
green harbour, buoyed up and floating
on the shared tides of our breath.
Thriving in the cloud-breath here,
bracken, heather and rush; ragwort, gorse and thistles
of course and, on green lumpy grazing fields,
fleet-footed ruddy brown hares.
Mauve thistle-like prickle-less knapweed,
buttercup, clover and birdsfoot trefoil, frondy
clumps of silverweed and bright yellow
four-petalled tiny tormentil.
Fuchsias in surprising abundance,
honeysuckle, meadowsweet, yarrow and dock,
and brambles in berry in hedges and ov-
er mossed and lichened ancient stone walls.
And from elsewhere elbowing their way
in, following fuchsia’s footsteps, come
Himalayan balsam and, quite unabashed,
favelas of giant rhubarb;
Rhododendrons have also claimed residence,
pioneering colonies of knotweed advance,
and spread thick along verges of old lanes
palisades of Montbretia iris.
Forever in the background, grass; close-cropped by stock
or grown-up unchecked, unrecognized species
with their seed heads hoisted, the disregarded pelt
of earth, keeping here and all of Erin green.
From its singing perches about the cottage
a robin rehearses stanzas of his September sutra
and looks, seemingly meaningfully,
at me…. Desists, then tries again.
Nearby on the not-dry-yet seep-wet tarmac
roadway, crow-guarded from the wire above,
a squashed-flat rat, its pale tell-tale
ringed tail also squashed, disintegrates
While on the southside where
the washing dries, some bees
in Mrs Hickey’s purple hebe.
And always a sound of water,
trickling or rushing or grey waves
crashing and the west wind breathing,
lording it over its land.
[Hats off to Zoë Devlin whose wonderful Wildflowers of Ireland website – www.wildflowersofireland.net – helped me correctly identify some of the species mentioned and made them even more enjoyable.]