Day 5 of 100, Singapore

Greg’s comment in day 3’s post about keeping on, made me think of a snippet of a poem that a friend shared with me the other day.

What we need most, we learn from the menial tasks:
the novice raking sand in Buddhist texts,
or sweeping leaves, his hands chilled to the bone,
while understanding hovers out of reach;
the changeling in a folk tale, chopping logs,
poised at the dizzy edge of transformation…

…and when the insight comes, they carry on
with what’s at hand: the gravel path; the fire;
knowing the soul is no more difficult
than water, or the fig tree by the well
that stood for decades, barren and inert,
till every branch was answered in the stars.

~ John Burnside

I had not heard of John Burnside before this, and I didn’t ask for the poem’s title (my bad). The only other print on the page in the phone snapshot she sent was “(enlightenment)“, and the inky serifs overleaf refusing to be hidden by the sharp crackle of texture.

Beauty in mundane business. Photographers often claim to seek it, but traitorously, it is always a writer’s mastery of its capture that I relish.

It’s half past three in the morning as I write this, silent save the eternal rush of the expressway nearby. Throwing ourselves into the business of keeping on, Flemming and I have been giving Coffee and Magic – our little website making business – an overhaul. We’re making sites for $750 again, so give us a holler if you’re looking to get your own and don’t know where to start. And even if you aren’t, drop by the site anyway, and have a laugh at the silly pictures we have of ourselves there.

They’re weird, the branches of this life’s tree, but they are not boring.


  1. True North Mark says:

    Keep up the good work Treasure! :)

    1. Charlene says:

      Thanks Markie. A lot of coffee = a bit of magic ;)

  2. Neil Horner says:

    Loving this daily blog Charlene. Im going to look up John Burnside , not a huge poetry fan normally but those are inspiring words :)

    1. Charlene says:

      Thank you Neil. I’ve been googling John Burnside since I got that poem. His work – or, what I can find of it on the internet – is exquisite.

  3. greg g says:

    Just in case: Burnside, John. “Enlightenment. (Of Gravity and Light).(Poem).” The Literary Review. Fairleigh Dickinson University. 2002. HighBeam Research. 20 Feb. 2017 .

    1. Charlene says:

      Ah, Greg, THANK YOU.

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