Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Wild Hawthorn Press
I hang in the spaces between canopies
and when I pause for breath it hits me -
the total silence. Even my mental chatter
vanishes. Just me and these ancient beings
and the rain they filter from the fog
dripping on my glistening skin.
I glide in a wordless mist. All that holds me
to the spinning planet is a little rope.
I start to soar as if the needles sprouted feathers,
my muscles tensed for flight. And when I land
it’s on a hanging garden of fern-mats
ninety metres high, to kneel on its altar.
Every dip into the chalice of a sky pool
yields an unknown species. Everything is dawn-new.
How many summers is it together,
with your vents and doors open;
how many springs,
full of self-important shoots;
how many autumns,
dusty and home to spiders;
and how many winters,
shut, inward looking
at not very much?
Your pungence, creativity
and openness draw her in.
You’re completely transparent –
or so it seems.
Do you long for your great aunts
at Kew, Edinburgh and Belfast,
full of spectacle, colour, sprinklers?
Do you long for a white staircase?
You’re tended by just the one gardener.
The same pair of brown mottled hands,
pummelling rich black spongey earth into plastic pots;
labels, lovingly written in blue pencil;
sprigs of green firmly pushed into place.
The trains rattle at your windows,
a mini earthquake, but one you can count on.
No need for a welcome mat,
the grass is worn
a polished carpet to your door.
And here she comes,
looking briefly to the gulls,
stepping inside. For a moment,
the sun highlights her silver hairs
caught at the top right of your frame,
as she searches for the hard green gloves.
Turangawaewae: The place where your feet belong
1. Tui Close
You tell me how a kowhai sapling
you have grown from seed now prospers
on your Belfast high-rise balcony,
and laugh as you recall how, on a recent visit
to your native land,
you saw some tuis, tipsy-drunk
on kowhai nectar, tangle in a brawl.
And, as you speak, I visualize those tuis
in that patch of bush beyond the town —
that dark metallic blue-green flaff of wings,
their clownish bow-ties wiffling up and down
as they perform their repertoire of whistles,
squeaks, hoots, clicks and bells;
then further off, below the War Memorial Tower
at Durie Hill, the river lying still,
the town, the sea beyond;
and somewhere out there
in the core of things
— amid volcanic sand
and childhood stars —
your sense of home.
2. Ninety Mile Beach
Far from the tideline,
constant coaches cross
Way beyond, the Tasman Sea
wider than any one of us can stretch our eyes.
Five-minute scheduled stop:
en route to where Maoris say
the spirits of their dead leave
on the homeward journey —
and we pilgrim tourists mail our postcards home.
Nearer the sea’s brink, momentarily
we leave faint imprints on the sand.
The water’s magnifying glass
displays two palmer’s shells.
One black. One white.
We hold them
lifetimes and a world away.