in a strange house
a house where you have never slept
you’ve just arrived, with a suitcase
a suitcase full of books.
There is an unexpected visitor who has been served
a glass of wine
of the wine.
you will always remember
that pause, before she spoke
and how the air you breathed
as you come back into the room dragging the shock
it’s a monstrous frantic putrid snot-green shock
it’s howling for blood.
out of your softest parts
slipped you a dose of don’t-touch-me distance
just one of the gifts
that the shock packs in its kit.
lifting a hand in farewell
the visitor is backing his vehicle out of the driveway
and it will be so strange, the strangest thing
you will be able to see everything at once.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Compton was born in Wellington and now lives in Melbourne. She is a poet and playwright who also writes prose. Her book of poetry, This City, won the Kathleen Grattan Award and was published by Otago University Press in 2011. And in 2013 her poem ‘Now You Shall Know’ won the Newcastle Poetry Prize.
‘The Shock’ is part of a series called Now You Shall Know written in response to her mother’s death in 2011 while Jennifer was touring New Zealand to launch and publicise This City. She received a phone call from her sister informing her the end was near while she was staying with Johanna Aitchison in Palmerston North.