Monday, May 10, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Where the Night is Long

Where night is long
by Pat White

just at the point of darkness, but
upon which day you are no longer
certain, you will learn that making
poems is only one of the many things

just as each dog runs its own gait
- tail held for balance – so
and the trout faces upstream
gills opening, closing, opening; it is
the job of the current to supply food

just as it is the hawk’s task to soar and the mouse
to enter the house because the hawk’s shadow
has hovered over the path, a momentary dark
or the coming winter to test strength, try the will
of the aged to breathe another, another –

just as the stars are out there
giving their show for free, maybe
after the equinox and you can’t sleep
because of the wind’s tantrum performance
for the third day, when the dead are willing
to lie undisturbed leaving scattered leaves to rise

just for a moment you may even be
happy enough to be no more than you are
to let other creatures function as they might
your poem can let go, just one more firefly firelit story
up in smoke, another breath to breathe in sleep
against the odds, an offer arrives

Pat White is the new NZ writer at the Randell Cottage in Thorndon which is home to a NZ writer for six months of the year and a French writer for the remaining six months. This poem is in an unpublished collection of 100 poems that Pat has been working on, and is posted here with his permission. I like the way it sets off the vigorousness and 'thisness' of nature versus the stillness and 'otherness' of the poet. And I very much like the way a poem is 'one more firefly firelit story/up in smoke'

I am involved with Randell Cottage as a Trustee and Chair of the Friends committee, and so have been helping Pat settle in over the past few weeks. This has included helping him dig over a rather neglected flower bed, so he can plant some vegetables!

Pat, you see, is as much a man of the land as he is a man of the written word. Here's what we've put up on the
Randell Cottage website about him:

Pat is a poet, essayist and artist whose work reflects his passion for the natural environment and an exploration of the way individuals relate to the land. His poetry collections are: Signposts (1977), Bushfall (1978),Cut Across the Grain (1980), Acts of Resistance(1985), Dark Backward (1994), Drought and Other Intimacies (1999), and Planting the Olives(2004).

He has also published In Gallipoli: In search of a family story (Red Roofs, 2005). Pat lives in the rural Wairarapa near Wellington. In 2009, he completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters with a folio of essays entitled How the Land Lies. He was writer in residence at the Robert Lord Cottage in Dunedin 2009/10. 

Pat will use the Randell Cottage residency to research and write a biography of West Coast writer, teacher and fellow environmentalist Peter Hooper (1919 – 1991). He says living in Thorndon will facilitate his research at the Turnbull Library and allow him easy access to papers in private hands.


Elisabeth said...

Gorgeous poem, here Mary, earthy, alive and evocative.

I'd like to read one of Pat's essays perhaps. I'm into essays. I'll check it out.

Thanks for the introduction.

Mim said...

One long breath! said...

A particularly nice evocation of the arrival of the elusive muse.

Kay Cooke said...

I admire the music in this poem, and the voice.

Kristine said...

Love the intro. i am into poems as well. I wrote several poems and some of it has also rhythms.