19 October 2010

Tuesday Poem: N.E.V.


So few ways out of the narrow valley
so many footprints along North Road

Sliding down Blacks Road on the black ice
off to work through the hoarfrost of morning

Walking the dog at Chingford Park
parking the car at Bethune's Gully

There's a photo I still look at:
twenty years ago now, four of us under the pines

ready to climb Mt Cargill
on a still afternoon in summer

Twenty years on, and we're scattered
two of us walking the hilltops of Wales

me in Wellington, wondering
when it will truly feel like home

and the dog in the soil
of a house in North-East Valley

pushing up the daisies, and the frost,
and the life that flickers on the hillside's bones.

Tim says: This poem is from my first collection, Boat People. It was on my list to read at the Ballroom Café this past Sunday, but I trimmed the list by a few poems, and this was one that I omitted.

In any case, it may mean more to Dunedin people than to Wellingtonians. I lived in Dunedin for seventeen years, the last 12 of them spent at 20 Gillespie St, North East Valley - the "N.E.V." of the title.

I enjoyed the Ballroom Café reading a lot. I was my usual nervous, distracted self before the session started, and the awful weather didn't help, but lots of people came along despite the weather, there was an excellent Open Mike section, the musical interlude from the Gracious Deviants was very enjoyable, and by the time I came to read, I was relaxed and ready to go.

My son Gareth came along, and did an excellent job running the book sales table. And, since Lewis Scott couldn't be there, Neil Furby came down from Auckland to MC, which was definitely above and beyond.

Now I'm looking forward to November's session, when another Tuesday Poet, Saradha Koirala, will be the featured poet.

You can check out all the Tuesday Poems at the Tuesday Poem blog.


susan t. landry said...

lines of regret & loss etched in the hillside. lovely, tim.

Helen Lowe said...

Ah, North East Valley ... I think you've captured it perfectly, Tim, as well as a sense of transience and regret for times and friends "lang syne" that is universal.

toni said...

awww I lived on the other side of the valley, in a flat on gladstone road. it was bloody freezing, hated the frosts on the hill, but I loved it there :)

great poem, really makes me miss Dunedin.

Marie said...

Oh the Valley ... I'm only on City Rise now, and this still made my heart pang.

harvey said...


I liked this poem when I first read it.
Reading it again on this blog I realise I like it even better.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Susan, Helen, Toni, Marie and Harvey!

Toni, I have a friend who lives in Selwyn St, on the flat (western) side of the Valley. Her house is right below the slope that leads to Pine Hill, and how she copes with the frosts in winter, I'll never know. So I sympathise!

LentenStuffe said...

Wow, Tim,

That special, palpable ache of where-is-home. There's a lovely, suave deftness in your lines that lure one in, in fact, it's only when in that one realizes the magic.