Islay, Aberdeen, Lothian, Brisbane, Pukerua Bay

I saw 
a dipper in and out of a stream 
pouring through composition into song. 

I saw 
bull kelp on Islay 
make a shore like my shore. 

I saw where my great aunt stepped out 
in her stylish cinch-waist coat, 
out of private violence into the hovering institutions of the street. 

I saw 
the language inside my language – 
yolk, shell, nest, foreknowledge: a chaos of need, then flight. 

I saw 
at the top of a rise, the round church 
so the devil can’t hide in the corners. I circled it, couldn’t get inside. 

I recalled my son’s favourite Attenborough clip: 
a snow leopard running like milk or glacier down a mountain, 
and mine – us side by side in front of it, on the L-shaped couch. 

I recalled my daughter after school broke up 
in winter, woollen hat and jacket hurled on, paddling the kayak 
across the bay. No life jacket and going like a bat out of hell. A quick wave. 

I remind myself to finish The Divine 
Comedy – I’ve never yet made it out of hell. The dolphin-backs 
arcing out of pitch. The hooks. 

And I’m going to say again that I saw the dipper, 
and I saw bog cotton – outside of a poem 
for the first time. Leaning in. Listening. 



Lynn Davidson has published poetry, fiction and essays. Her latest books are Common Land which combines poetry and essays, and a novella The Desert Road. Lynn has poems in The Best of Best New Zealand PoemsBig Weather: Poems of WellingtonEssential New Zealand PoemsAnother English: Anglophone Poems from Around the World and PN Review. Lynn is currently working towards a PhD in Creative Writing at Massey University, Wellington. In 2013 Lynn was writing fellow at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland.