Someone recently asked what was a typical day for me. That’s a hard one. Most days are atypical. Take today. I was up early for an appointment at neurology in the public hospital for my six-monthly check-up. The taxi-ride over was under a grey sky as we scudded past cabbage tree and rhododendron in full flower and pohutakawa budding everywhere – a typical November day.
For once, there was no waiting, instead questions and tests, a relatively cheerful interview. The verdict – as I anticipated, muscular degeneration continues but slowly – more strength in shoulders and arms than legs and feet, I knew that. While I waited in the foyer with my walker while Anne went to get a taxi to come home a lady going past said ‘be careful out there; the wind gusts are getting stronger. It was a Wellington gale.
Home in time for Anne to go shopping. The result a delicious lunch – duck and walnut terrine on fresh bread and fresh water-cress leaves. And the inevitable fortisip, my nutritional food supplement. In my youth we used to harvest water-cress from the back-waters of the creek that ran past our house. My memory of that freshly gathered green was its strong flavour. Apparently the sugar in vegetables is turned to starch the longer they are harvested and stored.
In the afternoon I explored this week’s The Tuesday Poem. I enjoy being a member of this community. It is always a stimulating selection, but this time it was one of the best. There is a editor who choses the first-up poem. This week’s guest was Jennifer Compton who put forward Australian poet Chris Mansell ‘Cow Poem’. She is a poet whom I‘ve never read. I must try to obtain more of her work. A delight in being part of the group is the introduction to poems and poets I did not know.
A highlight this week was Alicia Ponder’s choice of the Kipling poem ‘The Smuggler’s Song’. “Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by.’ I’d learnt that poem in primary school. But Ponder’s unearthed a video of Kipling reading it. The visual video is not too hot but Kipling’s voice is strong and unique. And he reads with a Devonshire accent and slang that presents the poem a fresh light. It’s a real treat.
Two other listings have American poets William Carlos Williams and Billy Collins reading the selected poems. There’s an Emily Dickinson poem I’d never come across. And a surprise, a poem by Margaret Cavendish born in 1623 about atoms – science fiction in the 17th century. Apparently she became a member of the Royal Society.
Mary Mc Callum, the mastermind behind the Tuesday Poem, re-discovered a poem of hers on an old hard-drive. How many masterpieces languish in discarded technology.
"A poem strings
the heart beats together
and is a small throat
to let out the sighs’
There’s a poem by Tim Jones that speaks of the ‘indefinite promise of summer’. Jeffrey Paparoa Holman describes the impact of a kamikaze plane ‘a burning comet’ on the deck of an aircraft carrier a few days before the war ended. His father survived. Hence Holman’s existence.
And another highlight - the selection includes a favourite poem of mine, Roma Potiki’s ‘And My Heart Goes Swimming’ - one of New Zealand’s loveliest love poems. There’s lot’s more. The site’s well worth exploring. Just hit the quill on the left hand side of my blog.
I read and commented on the selections while my computer audio played a disk of Nat King Cole. “It was just one of those things’. My vintage shows – nostalgia as background. A stimulating afternoon! I’ll let Cavendish have the last word on the poems. ’So Atomes, as they dance, finde places fit’. We know more about atoms than that good lady. But we remain human on the same planet,
That activity finished I cuddled down again with the life of Katherine Mansfield. Tomorrow’s biographers will not have the luxury of the written word that is available for her vintage. Email, facebook and text will not leave the detail of anguish and the glory that is obtainable from that generation.
TV News – the big wide world increasing remote. Dinner, tarakihi –Anne discovered a tempura recipe for the batter, white wine instead of sake – and watercress. I am tired, the morning was stressful, the afternoon was full. TV sog, the Canadian Arctic – lovely polar bear cubs, Nigella cooking, River Cottage self-sufficency – a man kind to mice but willing to kill a deer for food is a puzzling beast - and so I am ready for bed and the oxygen machine.