Ruth Asch – Five Poems


Impressions of Butterflies

Flashes scarlet, black lace upon cream
jaunt about cascading lilac budleiahs.
Gauzy white and yellow polka-dotted purl, 
arabesque across the kitchen gardens, 
spread and furl their wings with art unstyled 
– in delight I whirl:
the august carnival of a child!

A dreamy room, where knowing timbers frame
moments, epoques in their gnarly span.            
Summer air weighs on youthful limbs;                              
’till lights an eye impressioned by
a miniature, jewelled fan;
the still-life shrugs its pennons, wanders on. 

Tantalizing scrap of breathing tapestry.
Exquisite mechanism.  Arch, vulnerable fool.                                                                                                              
My left hand is no witness to the right.
A thoughtless child? Primitive wild?
Woman keen to seize and taste all good?          
Frisson of glinting powder on the air –                                           
the brush of fingers swooped
lays leaf-vein pinion-patterns bare.

A butterfly gasps with its wings –
gauze struggling structure, exposed.
Little, gilded piece of guilt!
What monster sprawled this masterpiece?         
slain by surreptitious hand
– reposed.


A house of glass.
Perfume-bottle atmosphere intoxicated with a blend of scents.
Colours diffuse floating through a prism world.
Paralysed, then thrilled – I dance!
and hours wheel with wings about my head:
I dwell, entranced.

There, in one corner of paradise,
stands a transparent tomb:
both house of slumber –
and an open womb.
Bundles pinned, sinister, to its wall,
like weird whelks. But if held to an ear –
what liquid music
or what creature would appear?

A mourner, a midwife;
I watch… and wait.

The seedshell cracks:                                               
a mystery convoluted, tentacled,
in draggled cloak, hauls into sight.       
In passionate gyrations –      
evolves a steed on stilts of gossamer… 
slow… slow…
a molten crystalizing 
– and draping velvet shroud,
flows into the instruments of flight!


I have seen a resurrection.

Butterfly.  Psyche.
Sweetness. Breath.
My soul.

An Artist

My eyes frame the world.
All views are breathing pictures;
bland surfaces – mind-canvas. 
Spinning to grasp the points in paint, 
caress the textured lines which melt
in tints which melt through me.
These orbs journey incessantly
to catch the lights, the shades that feed
ravenous, subtle flames
of inspiration.

Every glance I indwell is more real                
than your stonewashed landscape of fact,    
your neon dreams.
You note a chair;
I feel round and taut line,
roused ruffled velvet,                                                   
calm, bright checks,                                   
dark polished oak with granular flecks.                       
We step outside:
each turn of a cloud’s hem reveals a new shade.                            
Birds’ momentary                                               
perches are finishing touches.  A blade
of tall grass, the sweep of a tree,
the splash of a flower
is the movement, the pivot, the key..
Dark-hulked bright-rimmed cliff –
a bulwark of imagery:
Nature’s composition.

And I see you. Dynamic.
Vital force twisted and bound;
springing in curls,
propelled by shin-shafts
leant to a pillar of tan-cream glow.                                                                                                               
Ever turned to express –
in a stiff-angled neck,
or the droop of a curve,
in the lift of a brow
or an arm’s upward swerve.  
You are life’s drawing.

Ghosts from a thousand paintings
speak silently in the streets
through unstudied eyes, conscious pose
of descendants, quite unaware.
Memories, bourn in the living,
of times, and of Time,
of art and of end.
Messengers… perhaps?
I think with a smile, to dissemble some fear: 
‘You cannot haunt me, old friend.’

Oh! but a Vision does!
If the mind’s eye could paint! if hands could but see!
If sheer force of will could extract that unwrought in me
to take colour and shape
in the face of all men,
of all hearts which now seek and would see…

But the canvas is blurred,
image half-begun,
and my eyes burn in orbit
of a visionary sun.


Porceleine and honey, tears of wax;
hands cupping a tea-light’s moth-wing glow;                          
the blonde locks of a painted boy; 
petals on mahogany below. 
Jasmine was elegance, lullaby-sweet;
votive scent, for him I could not meet. 

Today, jasmine and I came face to face:
a thousand blossoms turning in cartwheels!
Synchronized display of tumbling joy                             
from a vine of green, the perfume peals.
Later, in the park, who can deny?                           
I tossed my heels to the laughing sky.   

´The Kiss´       A Trio in Klimt


From these dark depths of stilled desire 
I rise and fall, worship, seize, embrace her:
this Woman, rich and pure as gold;
multihued and soft as her own flowers.
Folded in my arms, how wild I thirst
to drink the sweet draught of her creamy throat.
She turns her head away, yet presses close,
I swoop upon, and shield her from above.
Not all my proud or careful plans could find 
this blessed place cast on discretion’s sea, 
a promontory of her grass and flowers, 
dark in the depths of our unknown,
lit by tingling ecstacy of Love.   


He presses me in passion fiercely tender:
my heart rises to his, yet my cheek turns.
Like a sapling weighted my neck bends
but cradled in his kiss my visage burns. 
And feel! my body melds into a shaft     
of blossom-sprinkled fire;
eyelids close to seal the brimming bliss
and all is silent but the petal’s choir
upon this ray of earth from which we are,
unless, perhaps, from us it flows?
flowers bloom in my lips and hair,
a crown of glossy leaves on my love grows.
A mystery new descends dark from above,
trembling gold with spray of dawning Love.      

A Bystander

How solemn are those lovers now:
Like vowed believers deep in prayer.
Their awe and veneration makes 
the clutch of passionate impulse
graceful numinous rite.
They see no world around them,
only the flower-strewn sanctuary
on which they kneel;
and in their zeal
they move my half-shamed heart to pray
that we too might pray Love.


If arrow-heads could fly, enchanted, unshafted,
they might be like this flinty-grey fluttering,
rebelling from an enjoined deadly mission
to swoop everyway in a magic circle
tips tailward, wings like wayward hummingbirds,
embrace the air afront in swift attrition.

Only brief moments, plunged into lamp-light,
mammal fur forms and long-arced fingering,
sheer pink-brown membrane, like shells aglow
at sunset, pairs clasped and outstretched.
They somersault through fervid air; I strain to hear               
their shrilling cries, the spinning heights they know.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Beauty changes you, if only for a subtle moment. It strengthens the pulse, gathers and releases breath, expands the heart, glows in the mind. Unless you shut it out, beauty engages you in a relationship… sometimes it is a friend, bringing happiness and calm; sometimes it is a moment of passion; when it covers evil, we feel personally betrayed. For someone in the Arts, Beauty can feel like a Lady in a tower, quested for and hard to win, or The One that Got Away.        


Ruth Asch is a poet, in rare moments when peace and inspiration coincide. She is also a mother, and sometimes a teacher. She writes in many genres and enjoys translating poetry from other languages. St Austin Press printed a book of her poems Reflections in 2009 and she has been published in many journals since, such as Meditteranean Poetry, Classical Poets, Poetry Atlas, Bamboo and Ghazal Page.