Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Against the Maelstrom

Seeing I’m in an early poems into the blog period here are two poems for Anne – part of my longer poem 'Against the Maelstrom' published in 1981. They were in free verse, hence the unusual lines


features dim with firelight
tell ghost stories
you decline
offer to read
‘The Ancient Mariner’

I didn’t know you could
read like this
my buck tooth love
the words spit & spin
they burst
like napalm
like sapphires they
dance along the skeleton

for a
your voice strong & tender
we overlap

the wedding guest’s unexpected


all flight up
I chew peppermints
in times of stress
old habits return

now oblivious
to Auckland showers I stroll
from gallery
to gallery

to buy you (wench)
a stupid card
as the lacerating spines
the hedgehog heart unrolls

I also buy
a new tie
listen to the shopgirl’s prattle
last night’s party
'hey you’ve not listening'
she says


but she is jaunty & so am I
the drought on happiness has lasted long

when I return to Wellington
an unexpected snare
you distressed
at me
the stranger

after all the affirmations/protestations
(in case one fails try another)
it creeps out

I’ve grown fond of you
more honest than most else

I grab the axe
chop kindling
once a boyhood chore

old habits

Today’s Anne’s birthday. Yesterday, the door bell rang. Anne answered it. She came into my study with an amused smile saying ‘your florist has sent your flowers a day early’. I took one look and said, ‘not mine’. They were roses, not the cream tulips I’d ordered, Ulrike had sent them interflora from Germany. Mine arrived this morning as anticipated.

I’ve had to arrange presents by phone and get them smuggled in. The decision to buy the major one, a new sewing machine, was by mutual agreement. The others were a surprise. A bottle of genuine French champagne, two books - a new life of Emily Dickinson and Margaret Forster’s latest work Isa and May, and two cards selected for me by Susanna my caregiver. I trundled these minor treasures out to the lounge on my new walker. Watching Anne unwrap presents is always a joy. I'm like a young child, keen to get to the actual present. She proceeds slowly and carefully, obviously savouring the event. Even the flowers are done the same way. I'd looked at the card first. Anne gently studies the arrangement both of flowers and the bouquet.

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