the salad with servers, offers
a dish of olives,
the muted light stroking his
hands, head bent as if
in a pew, paler
than I think of him.
On the pergola
above, the leaves of the vines
are ecstatic and lime-bright,
a scribble of veins,
tendrils, shadows – a reminder how light
both clarifies and complicates –
how a simple landscape of skin, let’s say,
can become a whole atlas.
Here the x-ray,
there the scan.
pant in the hedge.
He chops bread
and chunks of cheese, lays
one on the other
passes it across the table
to my mother,
his hand a plate. She’s feeling
the heat, longs to be cool
inside with a book, is looking
for the vines, for the lean of the tree
beside us, its pollen rising rapidly like small fish
in a vertiginous sea.
The olive dish
is passed around again. My father
onto the grass with his hand. (He asks
the surgeon now and then, ‘When it comes
again how will I know?’) All this
light and still the incomprehensible
scrabble of things,
the bright falling. Above,
the sky’s open palm,
By Mary McCallum
Post updated 12:01 pm Tuesday July 24 - more on Mahy.
This poem is from my small book The Tenderness of Light out earlier in the year which I'll be reading from in the Wairarapa this Friday as part of a poetry roadshow with four other poets for National Poetry Day. Do come if you're in the area! Details here.
|by Kirk Hargreaves Fairfax/NZ|
Her gift to readers is immeasurable. Her books are a joyful and magical part of so many lives, mine and my children's included. What would we have been without A Lion in the Meadow? And Maddigan's Quest?
Mahy used to wear an orange curly wig to perform for children and you can imagine the writer's delight when she saw Mum's car: a bright orange Fiat Bambina with a sunroof. She leapt in, donned her wig, pulled back the sunroof and sailed through Wellington like that.... my Mum grinning all the way.
Update: My daughter has just reminded me how, smitten by Maddigan's Quest when she was ten, and keen on writing herself, she sent Margaret Mahy a letter. She received a long handwritten letter in return that amongst other things said that she, Margaret Mahy, liked the same character Issy liked, and encouraging Issy to write down her stories too. When I told Issy this morning that Mahy had died, she burst into tears.
The Booksellers NZ blog has posted The Fairy Child today - a perfect choice. It begins: 'The very hour that I was born/I rode upon a unicorn' - yes! she did! God Bless the extraordinary people in our midst who ride unicorns - and ride them to our very door - and ask us to climb aboard.
Margaret Mahy, you will be sorely missed.
Oh and please do visit our magical Tuesday Poem hub today to see poems from each of the NZ Book Awards finalists selected by Andrew Bell. An uplifting way to start the day.