Friday, April 20, 2007

A birthday gift, a poem shared

Leonie finally posed the question I had been avoiding. What did I want to do for my birthday? The real answer to that was 'go adventuring'. I wanted us all to spend a day somewhere like Kapiti Island, or perhaps Mt Bruce. I wanted us to go somewhere outdoors and get away from our urban lives for a few hours. However I didn't have time to take a day off work, and Nic and Leonie were going to be away both weekends either side of the big day itself.

In the end Nic picked up Chow takeaway, we pulled out the kitchen table, dressed it with a white table cloth, candles and linen table napkins, put on some music and the four of us ate and drank until late in the night.

Oh, and we read poetry. Thanks to Catherine for recommending Essential New Zealand Poems to Leonie, and for recommending in particular the poem I am about to share (thanks too to Leonie for the gift). I have walked, run, cycled and driven the road described on many occasions. On a night where we opened our book of poems at random, where every poem found held particular relevance, and was deeply and meaningfully about us, there, at that moment, this poem took hold of my spine and carried it a few kilometres West, till Leonie's voice carried me spinning down that narrow valley to the sea ...

Instructions for How to Get Ahead of Yourself While the Light Still Shines

If you have a bike, get on it at night
and go to the top of the Brooklyn Hill.

When you reach the top
start smiling - this is Happy Valley Road.

Pedal at first, then let the road take you down
into the dark as black as underground
broken by circles of yellow lowered by the street lights.

As you come to each light
you will notice a figure
racing up behind.
Don't be scared
this is you creeping up on yourself.
As you pass under the light
you will sail past yourself into the night.

(Jenny Bornholdt, originally from Moving House, University Press, 1989)

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Happy birthday, a day late! I'm so glad that I had a hand in giving you a birthday gift (cheapest one I ever gave anyone :) )