POEMS

GATHERING AT THE SHORELINE

Daily
old ladies
slowly lower their towels.
Bathing suits and
bathing caps.
Bodies shaped by other bodies.

Crossing the shelly beach
on tender feet
they stop at the water’s edge.
Hands on hips,
thin-legged
like the nearby gulls.
They stare
glassy-eyed
out to sea.

(First published in takahe #87.A critique: ‘Why I Chose It’ )

HANGING BRIDIE

We walked into the room
and found you hanging, Bridie.

Your blue eyes
unblinking.
Your fine fingers
twitching.
Your long dress
shimmering.
(A seagull
squawking.)

You look stunned
staring across at the bloodied,
paranoid,
gun-toting,
Passover father.

All the while
a mother changes a nappy while her daughter bathes a doll;
a laughing family drink summer cups of tea;
two big, round, brown faces stare out the window.

Only the gallery’s
long-necked birds
look your way.

Poetry on the Streets

A MOTHER’S LUCK, 1919

The drapes still drawn next door;
there has been no sun in that house
for two years now.
The hedge and camellias
quickly joined hands
to hide the porch from view
of whispering passers-by.

I’ve listened to her sobbing at night.
That mother,
my neighbour,
my friend,
now a lost soul
alone in that big house.
I have wept for her.

The hallway
echoed the thunder
of three brothers running,
laughing,
to school,
to play,
to work.

Three telegrams
first held in shaking
shocked hands
certify the silence.

Regret to inform you…
Regret to inform you…
Deeply regret to inform you…

Three sons of Mt. Eden,
once uniform proud.
Postcard smiles on the mantelpiece.
Ashes to ashes,
dust to dust.
Auckland to hell
to…heaven.

How can a mother grieve
when she can’t drip her tears
on the soil and sands that cradle her fallen boys?
And tomorrow,
how can I not cry for joy
when my young soldier
finally walks back through my front door?

(Read at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Anzac Day, 2016.)