Lydia Leigh Clarke

gedichte/ poems

under the surface

every visit to los angeles I spend an afternoon examining bronze plaques in forest lawn,
watching the slow movements of the other visitors, the quiet grief and hopeful gratitude,
the new graves overflowing with flowers, the temporary wood markers.

my parents lie on a shady hill, assigned a number on the map,
now neatly arranged among strangers, identical headstones
except for the names, dates and sometimes a few words of recognition.

some years I spent hours looking for their graves.
now forty years later I know where to look, the fifth pine on the top row,
near the trash can,
counting downhill twelve horizontal rows…

the roots of the pine have most certainly turned the buried to dirt
journeys now completed

a light wind is enough
and I am at once very near these two people
who opened the door…
all of their offerings,
the realm they created,
the music


-june 2022




it began with the masks

I could stand in a room full of strangers,
shopping for cheese or salami or fruit,
quietly speaking my observations
to myself

and no one else heard or minded

even when we spoke directly
to one another
it was hard to understand
the muffled sounds
behind those masks

two years later we are free
to shop
with shining faces

but I find myself still talking to myself
and wonder
whether my moving lips
and hushed voice are noticed.

I might have inherited this peculiarity,
a wink from my ancestors

my mother talked to herself
while cleaning the kitchen.
she would close the sliding door and
a whisper, an ever louder hiss
accompanied the scrubbing operation.

rather than talking
my singer sister hums
softening her separateness.


and sometimes laughter
those whispering voices

-july 2022


july 2018

brown shadowed stone wall
clothed in sturdy rose bush green
stretches to the end of this unknown garden

every few minutes a crow sails by
his efforts‘ tempo
contrasting with the slow waving ochre below

I know there are seagulls near
searching for ocean fruits
laid bare to the rhythm of the day



just wait

and listen

like a muscle slowly loosening

out of an unnatural stiffness

stretching again





Wir haben unser Innerstes
und geliebt


mit den Widersprüchen
die uns nahe sind
das Schimmernde
in der Weite gesehen


die Stimme
wird in meinen Kugelschreiber gelegt.
Mein Körper,
mein lebendiger Körper
muss warten,
die Energie verwandeln
in denkende Worte
mit Stille umgeben.





after the winter solstice
and candlemas


it’s been a mild winter so far
biking under blue skies
not as a must

but because the crows are gathering
calling and dancing in prenuptial rites
over the newly plowed fields

robins appear again searching for worms
throwing wet leaves aside
digging frantically
like dogs


if we can’t forgive
then we’re forever bound to the past

move on through the seasons
from light to dark and back again

and smell the plowed earth





winter is here. the sun has been shining this week and makes the cold bearable.

I’m reminded of last winter, the end of it, when the grey skies didn’t lift for weeks and it felt as though a weight lay on my chest and my heart could hardly stand it – sombre and restless.

now I look at the coming winter and the past summer and the extremes.

the gnus are migrating by the thousands into kenya because the rains in the serengeti are two months late and there isn’t enough water or grass to live.

the wind blows through the cracks in my apartment, fire in the oven.