THREE POEMS by Michael Lee Rattigan

The climbing plant

Careful, careful
With the flower of añil
Do not check that which seeks to blossom

Do not entangle
The blossoming plant
Or spite its white flower
Or warp its yellow flower

Careful, careful
With the flower of añil.

(Tarosco, 19th-20th Century)



The turtles pass by with their spry little necks.
The large turtle next to the small turtle
By the sea’s edge.
Small turtle, large turtle.
Small with the large,
Large with the small.

Where did you leave your child?
Where did the sea leave your child?

Ocean, ocean
Look at the small turtle
Look at the large turtle.

Where did the sea leave your child?

Large turtle, small turtle.



To each small thing…

A slow offering pulse in veins;
lichen green-blotched on weathered bark
as geometric cells unfold.

The young surge, shell-outward,
cleaving a brittle sphere to fall
plumply as a pulp to earth.

Dipping life-alert eyes that wait
an eternal moment,
sure of nothing but life-warm fragility.

A scruff of feathers in wind-
scrawny-necked on soft pads, scantling limbs;
the eyes cloudy in wind-blown light.

That dank life-brightness after rain, mud-lipped.



The traditional Mexican poems reveal an attuned awareness to nature and this is expressed with tender simplicity.

The fragility and resiliance of nature is something that’s attempted in “To each small thing” and it expresses a personal response to the Mexican poems.


Michael Lee Rattigan was born in Croydon, England. He studied at the University of Kent and Trinity College Dublin. He has lived and taught in Cancun, Mexico and Palma de Mallorca. Through Rufus Books he has published “Nature Notes” and a complete translation of Fernando Pessoa’s Caeiro poems. He currently enjoys being interrupted from anything resembling work by his baby niece, Meadow.

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