One night then several days

They try to sleep, but that outside light, 
just straight in. How inconsiderate,
so annoying. And then she says, Why 
don’t you ring them and he will say, No, 
it’s much too late. Wait until morning. 
Just shut your eyes. I’ll pull the curtains 
They’ll keep out the light, it’s not that bad.

No the boy says No no no. 
Stop talking. I’m not going 
to go to school. Stop. No, stop. 
School takes too long. Stop. No, I 
won’t put on my shoes. I’m not 
going. No. Stop. It’s too long.

Long sugary days, you find these words come out
blurty blurty snap snap snap one after the
other and thoughts go off down little paths you 
hadn’t noticed, like maybe lunch with a friend
whose round face under a merino beanie,
smiles a vegetative smile showing small teeth.
Sugary is the Octagon, the odour
from the chocolate factory. These late sugary 
mornings, thoughts sidle a bit, food wandery, 
tell you about steamy date scones with butter 
that starts to melt but still keeps some yellow shape.

Then there are days that could make you depressed and flat as a squashed dog. Or
flat and stretched lengthwise like Mr Tomnoddy in the book when he was run over by a
steam roller. Mrs Tomnoddy knitted a scarf so long no one could use it till she saw a
man with a very long neck when she was on a train and the word ‘giraffe’ popped out
of her mouth The man was delighted because it was the seven letter word he needed
to complete a crossword puzzle. That led to Mrs Tomnoddy also completing the same
crossword and winning a prize which was a trip to Egypt where she had an alarming
ride on a camel that plunged cheerfully but terrifyingly on into the desert and would not

Wee mother says We’ll have to go back once more 
and do it again, come back all the way from 
home and if you are going to dawdle this is 
what will happen and you are going to stop it, 
you are going to stop it right now. Her snuggle
feet hide in well laced shoes. Her small body stands 
firm inside red pants and a scarlet wool coat. 
She kneels. She holds the boy who slumps against her,
hangs his quiet arms over her red shoulders.

Then days of delight. How the singing teacher 
enchants her pupils so they fill their lungs. Sound 
flows from them or their small voices get stuck in 
their throats, or hide in their hearts, but these pupils 
do surprise themselves. She of course has heard it 
all before.


Rachel Bush is a Nelson poet. Her most recent book of poetry, Nice Pretty Things and others was published by Victoria University Press in November.