Wendy Stern

July's rupa* The jasmine lingers,And the garden's unkempt,As the July sun burns us all dry.And the dreams come,And the faces change,And a branch hangs,Framed, by the window,Gently curved,Reflecting the light.And the dreams come,And the dreams get louder,Demanding, insisting,That they be heard.And honeysuckle bloomsAnd the garden is scentedAnd children’s footstepsRun and they hideAnd everything is thirsty.And the July sun scorches,But still we are cold. And the faces change,And none are familiar,And these will change too,As is the way.And the roses are tended,Saved from the bindweed,Yellow and vibrant,Roots reaching down.And the pain never ceases,Grinding the body down,And there is no choice leftBut to learn to endure.And the evenings are balmy,And the moon is radiant,But behind the tree and rooftopShe is always unseen. And cobwebs appear,Between branches and rosebush,Shimmering softly,Determined to stay.And the butterflies come,Too long without summer,And crickets, grasshoppers,Call of their world.And nothing gets better,And nothing gets easier,And that “Things will get easier”Is just a pretence.And leaves tippedWith auburn edgesAre calling of autumn,Calling too soon. * A rupa is a Buddhist statue or form Re-envisage When life is nothingbut an echo of itself,and all you have leftis scraps and remnants, Re-envisage. Here is a bowl,a bowl of warm water.Let the bowl be your lakeand the lake be your sea. Here is a hand,the hand of a loved one.Let that handbe your bridgeto the whole of the world. There is a leaf,the first one of autumn.Let the leaf be your forestand the forest your wilderness. Here is a glass,a glass of pure water.Let the glass be your banquetand the banquet your fulfilment. There is a statue,The Buddha on a lotus.Let the statue be your pathAnd the way of all truth. Here is some blue,Some blue between greyness.Let the blue be your skylineOver Indian shores. Here is a stone,Heavy in my fingers.Let that stone be your footpathThrough the highlands and the glens. There is a star,A star at my window.Let that star be your universeWith its stories unknown. Here is some quiet,The stillness of evening.Let that stillness be your calmAnd the calm be your bliss. When life is nothingbut an echo of itself,and all you have leftis scraps and remnants, Re-envisage. Wendy is a Buddhist and poet living in Bristol, in the west of England. For many years she has been completely bedridden, and her poetry therefore comes from an unusual perspective. Writing poetry is Wendy’s passion and her only form of creativity and self-expression. Her work is produced without the capacity to look at text, to write or to use a laptop. Dictating the poems and then editing them aurally takes an immense amount of energy and concentration. Many of Wendy's poems have appeared in Buddhist Poetry Review.