at the bottom of the orchard and men shouting
Away, away. It’s a fox hunt, a sharp whistle,
the tinny blare of the horn, a cupped hand
over the mouth so it’s yow yow yow, the men yelping
like the dogs and Artemis in her short tunic
running with her bow and arrows on her back.
of the peninsula, the harbours gleam and shirr.
There are stone bungs in the walls of the ruined tower
where there used to be a dancing floor.
And broken up plaster on the walls that speaks
of the refinement of the court of France.
perhaps two hundred of them, they crossed
the dark lawn quietly, only the chink and rustle
of their passing, and they shut the gate behind them
and they did no harm,
the servants of the house among them
and the steward, a man most trusted for years.
they crossed the border between the usual
and the rare, between the still and the embroiling,
between the individual and the communal pain,
the foulness that can flower there
along with gracious mercy and kindness,
the Quaker standing under the stars, his head bare,
his arms outstretched without a weapon.
In the name of the Virgin
they left him alone, nor did they harm his daughters.
Your Pope’s Man
his advice to his confrères regarding Pleasure
its warty green and purply black
thick skin, its body shaped
as you’d break into a ripe fig,
just a little pressure on its fat belly
The white flakes inside look
like steamed fish. You prise them
You suck them, apple
and cinnamon, sugar and cream,
The tastes flow like music
over the different pleasure parts
you will have with her, about closeness,
will keep you a pinion apart.
as a crocodile, your eyes especially,
unmoving in the billabong.
for Geoff Cochrane
the wrong instructions.
Sometimes I just get like that
all flustered, crazy Jane,
can’t tell my arse from my elbow.
Street, is that what I said?
On to the corner with Colombo,
then left into the Boulevard Saint Michel.
Cross the road on the diagonal,
Then toddle past the Castello di Diavolo,
where most of the poets hang out
(you don’t have to go in if you don’t want to).
I’m sorry it took you three hours
to get to the reading.
when we were all sitting in Fidels
in Cuba Street, out the back
inside the hessian tent with the smokers
(it was the middle of winter).
There was Gerry Melling and Lindsay
Rabbitt and you and me.
I was getting my weekly fix of nicotine.
you drank a small bottle of Coke
but you wouldn’t eat anything
and after a while you started whining
like a puppy,
‘my feet are fuckin’ freezing’
and we all looked down
and there were these huge hairy holes
in your old sneakers.
‘What the hell are you wearing?’
I dragged the edge
of your left trouser leg up and
there was the strip of a blue nylon sock.
‘For god’s sake,
haven’t you got any other shoes?’
‘I saw some I quite liked in the Farmers.’
‘And did you buy them?’
‘Does brown go with black and white?’
‘They were brown and white and black
and I didn’t know if the colours matched.’
I’ll go with you to the Farmers,
and we’ll buy the bloody shoes
and I’ll buy you a pair of merino socks too
as long as you promise to wear them.’
don’t you reckon.
You wander the streets of a city
that’s no longer your own.
You look at a map
and all the words are in German.
You ask a stranger
where the hills have gone
and he bursts out laughing.
to meet you on the flooded steps
n gr8 2 gt yr txt:
‘loved LOVED Christchurch’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Starting in July 2007, Bernadette Hall held the Rathcoola Fellowship which gave her six months living and writing in Donoughmore, Co. Cork, Ireland. A new collection of poems, The Lustre Jug, based on her Irish experience, will be published next year. In 2006 while Writer in Residence at Victoria University, she completed The Ponies which was published by VUP in 2007. ‘Sastrugi’, from that collection, was turned into a choral work by Christchurch composer Chris Archer this year. Bernadette lives at Amberley Beach, North Canterbury, and is currently a tutor at the newly established Hagley Writers’ Institute in Christchurch.