for Natalia Mali
Last Sunday in the wild, walled garden –
gaunt, skeletal after winter –
birds arrived to celebrate the radiance,
the warming balm that promised to replace
the chill, the overbearing bitter grey, with white
froth on the prunier, with more expansive days.
Hyacinths and snowdrops, daffodils
had magically appeared. Girls lazed
on a rug like gypsies, basking beside
trays of tea, cardigans discarded
in an invitation to the sun, as trees
prepared their silken, new embroideries.
Today, the cold has taken back
its fiefdom under leaden threat;
the gypsy troupe has fled to Paris,
leaving a Mihalkov film set:
empty garden, no Natalia,
no ballads from Lermontov;
the house party – unfinished fiction;
servants gone to humble hearths,
no nurse to tend the samovar,
the chanteuse and the mirth dispersed
with all the motley cast of guests,
in thin and melancholy air.
Marnay-sur-Seine, March 2015
In 2015, Jena Woodhouse was awarded Creative Residencies at Camac Centre d’Art, Marnay-sur-Seine, France, and at the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, Greece. In May 2016 she was writer-in-residence at Booranga Writers’ Centre, Wagga, NSW. She is the author/compiler/translator of seven books in various genres.