Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Poem in My Pocket

This week's Thursday Poetry task was to carry a poem I loved around in my pocket. Well, I didn't even get a chance to check out what this week's task was until yesterday, so there wasn't a lot of carrying time, and no pockets.

Funnily enough, I only recently found the poetry book this poem comes from last week, when I was sorting out some junk in our study. I immediately noted its presence, and made a mental note to pick it up and do some reading. Then Thursday Poetry prompted me to actually do it!

I changed my mind about which poem I was going to post though. This week's poem is by New Zealand writer Ian Wedde, and taken from Big Weather, Poems of Wellington, Selected by Gregory O'Brien and Louise White. Incidentally, I also love the photo on the jacket of this collection. The photo is taken from Mt Victoria, and I ran up there from sea level last night!

The poem I have chosen I love most obviously because it is about Wellington, the source of most of my inspiration. It is a poem of winter, but also of the hope for spring. Coming out of a long hard winter as Wellington is at the moment, it really resonated.

I love the way this poem implies that change is something that happens when you are not looking. I like the way that the writer's mood is so firmly tied to the atmosphere around them, even though they do not immediately realise it.

I identify with this poem because the route the writer takes is a route I often run, so I am familiar with the sights, sounds and smells described. I like my poetry physical, and this is a very physical poem.

A combination of exercise & insomnia is best
for keeping you in trim (falling in love
helps, but don't be surprised
if her response to your high condition
is a mixture of weariness & self-pity.
Well what did you expect, the
Liebestod from Tristan?

Study this sadness, give it some time,
it's real & it's 'just happening'
don't put it down
to autumn blues, in certain places the underground
cells of narcissi are preparing their banners
a wintering gannet slaloms the gales
down Evan's Bay, something else
is certainly going to happen

and one day in winter
you'll see someone whistling
as you put your dawn coffee on
checking out that baleful glint in the clouds
listening with half your attention
to a jock babbling on the pre-breakfast programme.

As you go to work in the grey light
the cold breeze off the bays will pour down your throat
chippies and steel-fixers blowing on their fingers
as they jump from the purple & red Fletcher Construction van
at the muddy Greta Point building site

a stink of diesel & fish will hit you
where some boat is up on the skids
getting her rust chipped

further on
by the new Hataitai Beach bathing shed
you'll notice a pale-blue item of underwear
chucked up on the toilet roof

at the Evan's Bay yacht marina
the same flash hulls will be wintering in their cradles
among rotten rope-ends and splashes of orange marine

everything that is the same
will have changed while you weren't looking
and if you listen
carefully, around about now
you will hear
that it's you
that's still whistling.


Catherine said...

So nice to see a Wellington poem among all the other offerings - I grew up in Wellington although I live in Christchurch now, so I know this area very well.

GreenishLady said...

Oh, that's wonderful. And great to encounter a poet I doubt I'd have met in my local bookshop! I love those narcissi preparing their banners, and the final lines - great! Thank you.