Ruth Asch is a poet in rare moments when quiet and inspiration coincide, a mother of four, and sometimes a teacher. Born and bred in London (UK), her childhood holidays were spent exploring English countryside with her family (which she loved), and the first big thing she saved money for was a trip to Greece and Italy, to encounter the beauties and culture of the Mediterranean. As an adult she has been living and working in France (the Vendée region) and Spain (near Madrid).
Ruth Asch published a book of her early poetry in 2009 ‘Reflections’ (St Austin Press) and since then has had individual pieces accepted by a wide range of literary journals. She writes a broad spectrum of subject and style and loves challenge of translating foreign language poems into real poetry in English.
Plum-coloured cliffs –
a wine-stained cauldron brimming with the sea –
proffering a cup of marvels, change,
towered deep above the little quay.
whispering ponderous ‘what if’s.
Like pebbles tossed
into ocean swell, we threw our cares
behind us, stepped ashore, my friend and I,
found simple beds for our few coins and prayers
and set a trap
of idleness to catch the peace we’d lost.
No clock-hands to hold time, but only waves –
exaltant action and relaxing fall.
No cutting deadlines and no stumbling days
towards an end.
Yet they culminated with a trial.
So far away
from homely problems, business, and regret
– hours like cobwebs build ephemeral
patterns, friendships – surely to be swept
to nothingness –
sweet confidence enjoyed like hot souffle.
We viewed the beach
of jaspar-coloured sand, degraded red –
a warming marvel, and the sooty black’s
sinister welcome; each a scorching bed!
The swimming pool,
was tempting water easier to reach.
I climbed a hill.
Arduously, gladly a path turns
to venerable Thera’s dry remains
breathless over the waves. Its shattered urns
had spilled their oil,
but sacred drama walks the water still.
You scorned the twists
of ancient track; scrambled over the folds
of lava shale short-cut, near lost your way;
missed the limestone santuary, sea golds –
but oh the thrill,
of bounding down the slope to keep our trysts!
‘Lucky’ his name,
though it was more his power to make-believe
that wise and handsome have something to do
with how the stars shine on a summer’s eve.
He wooed me with
rare courtesy; perhaps a debt to shame…
Your dancing queen
threw herself at life, at love, at you;
her whirl of energy, reposeful curl,
confident beckoning seemed of the blue
the simple sky and domes and ocean sheen.
She woke desire
and challenged it, a lure to such a boy;
to love her was a young, a manly aim;
a tentative, cool passion, and a ploy.
What did she leave?
– a smattering of ashes, or a pyre.
My Greek bar-sage
sparkled like Aegean in the sun.
But grey and sad was winter’s grip in him:
abandoned islands count the coins won,
upon a desolate and tragic stage.
he sought – and love and fervour soon to go
as they departed many years before,
leaving a dim light like the sunset’s glow,
to steer him
through grim life with jokes upon his lip.
Though magma flowed
through all my veins – an uprising within
and passion-molten was my solid self –
we talked for hours of love and hope and sin;
I left him there,
and found you. friend, upon the homebound road.
In Oia town
along old streets as brightly pale as brides
wait the elder women, dressed for death,
their faces furrowed with what life confides –
eyes twinkling still –
watching people watch the sun go down.
We bear its brand:
volcanic island in our mem’ried souls.
Fiery upheaval, now rose-coloured rock;
jewel souvenirs and maps scorched on bare soles;
a blinding light;
the black and shining pain of sun-pressed sand.
They are my anti-candles.
Something in their shape
reminds me of the wax-born flames.
Nor small, nor bright,
but tall and slim, crowned:
soft-pointed heavy cloud –
a darkness cape.
Candles draw to intimacy,
cosy warmth, romance;
mystery, a flickering thrill
of sweet surprise to be, to be…
Firs do not change,
nor flutter – yet they pull
upon the inner sight –
They reassure; are wistful;
strongly here but longing
for a distance. Paint the sky
intensely; calmly strange.
A Heavy Summer
A panther’s fur in shadow:
the sky, rough-rich, dark-dimpled,
a warm awesome phenomenon.
These are fierce, brooding days:
soft as a sheathed paw
and heavy, lies the air.
Hair prickles, feeling for a breeze:
the breath of fate.
Somewhere stars are waiting
too silently, too patiently
dull eyes cannot guess their twinkling intent.
Meanwhile our life’s skein,
like a tape unspooled,
sprawls black and tangled on the road,
gleaming in the glance
of a behemothic cat.
Summer mornings: perfection in waiting,
Beauty holding its breath.
The vault shines, air is sweet and fresh,
clustering plants in bloom
– alone enough, exquisite –
expect, somehow, guests: a bride and groom.
There is a heady lightness,
a brilliance and a hush,
which touches souls who feel, with awe.
The world becomes a sanctuary,
where beggars slump and pious hearts adore.
Limbs revel in the warmth of air-to-skin.
Senses, at ease, ‘belong’.
Night and Day become best friends;
Day lends Night her golden glow,
the pale blue trailing tresses
of Day, Night pins with stars, just so.
Nocturnal people wait up,
carousing in low tones,
to greet the shrilling birds of dawn.
City-dwellers roam afar,
and houses quietly creep out on the lawn.
Cicadas are the trillion cogs of Summer.
Without their whirr and flicker
the smooth-moved, pulsing season,
a derelict machine,
would sit, stale and empty,
only the sallow dust to glean.
But now their vibrance
shaping waves through the scent-full air,
clouds crystal time, and dreams walk free
and all is serendipitous;
till under a quivering turquoise sky
we face a screaming tree.
Warmth rises, and embraces us;
closer and closer ’till
drawing breath is forfeit,
love’s grip is too sweet.
Guilty, we pray the pompous clouds
storm, and break oppressive heat.
At last, the rain-globes pelt us,
thunder takes up our cry,
fire-flares show all in relief:
stiff town washed gold and purple.
Then we know how summer truly is:
gorgeous, uncapturable, brief.
And some haiku…
Facades hoist eyelids,
Peer and display and ponder.
Windows in sunshine.
Eau de cologne, sweat,
Warm crushed blossoms, cool salt-spray,
Car fumes and curry.
Bright heat, toothsome quiet,
Closed shutters, radiant flowers.
Pulsing pause, climax.
Sudden blush of green
A wish as leaves are dying:
The Spanish autumn.
All poems on this post: © Ruth Asch
Published with the permission of Ruth Asch