Poetry Friday: What’s Found by Sheila Packa  

Chelsea Physic gafdens Poetry Friday is hosted by Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup

When you’ve visited the same place over many, many years, and in many, many guises (child, college student, young married, mother of one-two-then three, and now as a “woman of a certain age”), you tend not to see as much as you once saw.  Everything looks familiar, and reassuringly so.  True, certain shops may change, and shiny new restaurants take the place of old haunts, but my neck of London has always been Chelsea, where my parents live, and winding roads and squares of Chelsea remain somehow endearingly changeless.

Yesterday, I found myself at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London’s oldest botanic garden, on a grey, dull, Fall afternoon.  For much of my walk there, I simply followed my feet which seemed to know, by instinct, how to travel.  The moment I stepped beyond the arched and vine encircled entrance, however, the garden beyond looked somehow changed.  Perhaps it was because I had never seen it in November’s light, perhaps it was because two beautiful new planters had made their appearance by the ticket booth, perhaps because I was in London to visit my aging and now frail parents…whatever the reason, I saw the garden anew.

What’s Found by Sheila Packa


in the tangle of trees
in twigs
from branches
and trunks and roots
in the ephemeral
tenderness of green
leaves that last a season
in the trembling and wind
the blue of sky and lake
in clouds resounding
from a place of emptiness
a chamber that answers
in vibration, string and wind
a trembling, brimming and falling
in the place opposite of grief
the place opposite of dark
in the body of lost
in water and air
a star whose light
has ended but travels
toward us
rising and falling
in a cascade of notes
which is not endless
but aching and sweet
like iridescent feathers
of wings that rise and fall
in the circle of migration
in each flight
music that we breathe

Pausing here and there in the garden, between  exhausted summer blooms and still thriving evergreens, I think I found what I was looking for…

in the place opposite of grief
the place opposite of dark

…and it was most welcome.


7 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: What’s Found by Sheila Packa  

  1. Lovely post, Tara. Your reflections and the poem are very “novemberish,” a time of reckoning that is sad and beautiful at the same time. Enjoy your visit with your parents.

  2. Sheila Packa’s poem is the perfect accompaniment to your thoughts and reflections. May your feet retrace many well loved paths and may you enjoy a wonderful visit with your parents.

  3. I think that is what I do sometimes, find things that help me live in better ways, against that other tide perhaps. This is beautiful, Tara. You seem to find just the right poem for what you are doing right now. I love “in clouds resounding/
    from a place of emptiness/a chamber that answers . . .” Thanks. I hope you enjoy being there with your parents, in your “home place”!

  4. You’re the second person to write a beautiful prose poem to go with the poem-poem you’re sharing.

    Enjoy every moment you have with your parents!

  5. This poem seems to fit so closely what you were experiencing and perhaps found on your walk through the garden. I like the quick, tangled pace it begins with and slowing down it moves into in reflection, thanks Tara! Looks like a beautiful garden too.

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