03 July 2008

Coverage and The Season

It's blowing a gale outside. Here are two poems united by the wind. Both were first published in North & South magazine.


He went south with the housing market
to a cottage facing the sea,

spent his last pay cheque
on Swannis and draught excluders.

Coverage was minimal.
He called his children

from the top of a nearby hill,
struggling through gorse, matagouri —
the visible teeth of the wind.
He got through at last

and begged until she put them on.
Given the chance, the kids talked

and talked: sports, school, when
they could fly down to see him.

That depends, he said, and then
they were breaking up —

fugitive crackles, then silence
under a polar sky.

Coverage was first published in North & South (May 2007) and is included in Swings and Roundabouts: Poems on Parenthood (Random House, 2008), edited by Emma Neale.

The Season

The mountains reconvene.
An avalanche of voices
thrums the heavy ground.

Precise, confidential,
the wind reports the news
it gleans from pavement tables:

the All Black's private pain,
the public intellectual's
ceaseless quest for vengeance.

The mountains shake their balding heads.
The culture of celebrity
has pushed them to the margins -

there are no peaks on the social pages.
Aspiring no longer, they allow the wind
to hustle away with the clouds.

Eroding, reminiscing, the mountains shake their
heads. Snow falls, forgotten dandruff,
through the ever-warming air.

The Season was first published in North & South (August 2007)

These are not the first poems I've written on the topic! The Weather and Wind Walks the Hand are other examples. Many of them seem to combine the wind with parenting: perhaps that's because, the night my son was born at Wellington Hospital, there was a southerly snap and a power failure. The backup generators came on to power essential services, such as the incubator Gareth was placed in for a day or so. I remember standing by the end of Kay's bed, feeling the cold and watching snowflakes swirl past the window. That sort of thing leaves an impression.

PS: I'll be taking part in Montana Poetry Day events in Upper Hutt on Friday 18 July. The full schedule of events in Upper Hutt is available.

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