Sunny Disposition

Her name rhymes with serene 
and she talks about the weather 
every time you meet: as if it’s personal, 
as if the days are her children, or yours, 
and there are good grounds to be concerned 
after all the care, all the trouble you’ve taken 
and now this: 
ailing, pale skies 
that drag themselves around 
like teenagers who won’t eat 
nor speak civilly, 
who sleep at all the wrong times 
then glower and slump, 
locked in the bleak mirror-chambers 
of their own cloudy heads… 
but wouldn’t you know it: 
just when you thought 
you’d be lumbered 
with surly and sullen ‘whatever’ forever, 
here comes a whole tribe of days 
that pull you up short 
with their casual artfulness, 
everything at which they suddenly excel: 
bare-chested men peacocking at cricket; 
women in frocks the wind could lick off quick as foam; 
kids who monkey from bikes to play-gym; 
or the breeze, a little drunk, just grown brave enough 
to lift wisps of hair from your neck’s warm skin, 
while sunlight swings from everything it touches 
like finches sipping upside down 
from the kowhai’s honeyed teats… 
so when she says, ‘Beautiful day, isn’t it? Paradise!’ 
can’t you almost believe you’ve earned it, 
and that we’ll all – all of us – 
be all right, now we’ve had this glimpse 
of where the old dream 
thinks we’ll get to, in the end? 


Emma Neale is an editor and writer who lives in Dunedin. She has published four novels (all with Random House) and three collections of poetry, the latest of which is Spark (Steele Roberts, 2008).

‘Sunny Disposition’ was written for Irene Sutton.