I write to you next to a cup of tea.
It rests against a sliding glass door, which opens to the patio vineyard; lolling grapes drape down in the prime of their season, timeless and delicious, at nighttime we eat them like popcorn in the sunroom and put the extra bunches in a bowl of water in the fridge for tomorrow. At the top of the South Island, the early evening is just chill enough, the tea steaming just enough, that a breath creeps up from the lip of the mug, up the sliding glass door like a dance.
I haven’t written to you in months.
I’m delighted by the brave women and men
who fall asleep in public library chairs.
Sometimes bold to go for the window seats,
the ones commanding view of the civic square, full shine
of lunchtime yogis and sushi advocates.
I take my lunchtime time to doze, thank you,
they seem to say
in endless gape of mouth, a stream of
hands nestled snug in armpits
the way top hatted Brits of lore
used to punch around in nippy London winters.
Helene and Andrew, who I worked for as a chef at Il Forno, offered their daughter’s spare mattress for my sleeping purposes for the time between the end of my au pair contract, on the 21st of December, and when my parents would rock into the Auckland airport on January 3rd.
Thus I spent my Christmas in a kiwi fashion, with barbecued pizzas, snowflake decorations, and 23 degree sunny skies. The company was lively and wore shorts and I couldn’t have asked for a better game of Monopoly, whereupon I dominated and had at least five hotels on green and yellow properties.
As well as a hotel on Park Avenue.
And a couple scattered here and there who’s counting really. All I remember was the gratification of hearing cries of relief when the thimble landed on “go to jail.”
and not all find the surface.
stay here, get lower,
go deeper, let it sink, let the mind anchor
let the breath work and the heart beat
and the music swell and the words which form
beneath your fingers swell as well and the words and jazz
and night breeze and occasional mosquito, there’s life force in there, too—
The vastness gets me,
sometimes; to see all this space
I cannot measure,
cannot obtain—and then
to see my human kin, just as
vast, measureless, objective
in such a state, a condition as this.
All of them new to the
act of human being, and yet
vastly more prepared than I.
Low eyes met
and the moment froze;
a candid viewing—
the whole air
held breath and here
you shall always exist.
You, held in new adulthood,
ripped black jeans endlessly under
Let’s just sit here for a minute,
here, on this log, next to
the creek which flows strong and clear.
I have to show you this tree;
a tree from the sun, from the soul
on its own, a tree
on whose long furry branch
dangles wise chin hairs and me—
swinging in my hammock
safe and soundless
the wind tilted my chin for a kiss
every now and then.
I never regret
not reading the news.
The front page headlines written
by an aware individual
who keeps delight on the simmer
at having found the story of the missing child-rape case
The television stations,
projecting visions of chaos
injecting emotion to hype it all up
get you going, get the fires lit, get the smoke signals out
honey, we’re not going anywhere for the next year
the world keeps getting worse and worse
we’ll just stay here and pay our income taxes and chalk our homes with toys and canned food
and we’ll call it all good.
Fingers of sea uncurl
against rocky black shores
teaching me how,
in the art form of breathing.
Naked toes nestle into
the folds of my hammock, which
swings, easy, like the gentle
head nod that accompanies
air massages the oak leaves
above, and the four of us
are in holy existence;
synchronized we inhale
How sublime does it feel
to be aware of all this.
And to wonder:
Crafting a home from the bones up—
here, where homes feel flint to lay,
here, where wildflowers venture wild,
here, to the steady whine of the bus approaching
the red light, which dangles
in front of the library.
Atomic algorithms do
the soul not a lick
these buzzy bites
aren’t earmarked for matrimony
to my holy pivot.
it is wilderness
which soothes the ruffled soul—