Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Poem: Just Fine

Saturday will be fine. We’ll start the day with coffee. The tennis club will have a working bee which we’ll forget about. A friend will ride over on her bike. The boys will jam in our boatshed. Our next-door neighbours will finally start on their deck. The fire brigade will be called out to the lighthouse. My husband will buy butterfish for dinner. Amy will look beautiful in her grandmother’s wedding dress. I’ll walk with my daughter in Days Bay to get a glimpse of it. We’ll eat kiwifruit gelato on the beach. That sort of thing.     

Mary McCallum
Eastbourne 2006

It's our 25th wedding anniversary today and I have been very uncertain about what to post here to celebrate that fact. My husband hates hates hates cheesiness and PDAs (public displays of affection), and is a bit suspicious of poetry and likes his privacy, so no love poems then ... (and I do have them.) I wrote a poem once about him in his olive grove during a storm but what I found wasn't the poem I thought it was. He's very happy in the olive grove, my husband, tending things, picking olives, building stone walls. 

I've already posted a number of poems here that I wrote about the grove around when my chapbook was published last year ... so what to do? Last night, I trawled through old poetry folders - astonished by the sheer number of dashed-off 'drafts' and finished poems I'd forgotten about - and feeling it wasn't going to get any easier, I emailed my friend Helen Rickerby asking if I could use her poem Curtains from My Iron Spine. Helen's a Tuesday Poet like me - a very good poet, in fact, but also someone with a very good heart, and this shines through her work. Curtains is about a couple (her parents) who are always together in the same house and never sick and are 'like a pair of curtains that overlap at their edges'. 

I love this love poem for so many reasons. It is of course a wish, not real at all, but the description of the longlastingness and everydayness of true love is the thing that felt so right to me today of all days... So, girded with Helen's permission, I started writing her poem up on my blog and was finished, when I remembered some more old folders of mine from another computer. I couldn't resist a flick through ... and found Just Fine, and it felt just right. 

It's about being happy together - those ordinary family moments on an ordinary day here, at our place, by the beach. At first I had no idea when I wrote it - but I realise that it must have been 2006, with Amy's wedding. The poem is also about looking forward to things and the potential inherent in the work we do and lives we lead and promises we make. I like that there's a wedding there.  

Anyway, that's us. Twenty-five years together since our wedding in Wellington on March 26 1988.  Three children. One dog. One house. One Barn. Thousands of olive trees and books. Countless family meals and perfect Christmasses. Friends we've kept and friends we've found and people, large and small, who've come into our family. Lots and lots of Saturdays and Sundays like this one in the poem. Happy.

Happy Anniversary to us. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday Poem: Predictive

How quickly friend becomes frenetic,
Christmas - crisis, singing - pining,
darling - dialing.

Mary McCallum

Just a fragment, really. But somehow, found like this in my draft pile of poems, it seems to work. Reading it - and seeing all my drafts and all my folders of poems deemed finished - makes me feel sad.  I haven't been writing much poetry lately because fiction has taken centre stage. I can't sustain both at the same time. I will need to make some time soon - perhaps a week - or longer - to pull together what I have into something I could call a collection. 

Meanwhile, please check out our hub poem this week by a fascinating Australian, chosen by PS Cottier in Canberra. I love these introductions to Australian poets via Tuesday Poem. A whole new world over there... have a lovely week, especially on Thursday - World Poetry Day. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Poem: Composed upon Westminster Bridge September 3, 1802 by William Wordsworth (with notes)

    Written on the roof of a coach, on my way to France.

    EARTH has not anything to show more fair:
    Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
    A sight so touching in its majesty:
    This City now doth, like a garment, wear
    The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
    Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
    Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
    All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
    Never did sun more beautifully steep
    In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
    Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
    The river glideth at his own sweet will:
    Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
    And all that mighty heart is lying still!

The above poem can found in:
  • Wordsworth, William. The Complete Poetical Works of Wordsworth. Cambridge, MA: The Riverside Press, 1932
  • Construction of the original Westminster Bridge in London was begun in 1739 and completed in 1750. Construction of the current bridge began in 1854 and was completed in 1862.
    I found this post on a website called PotW.org - I love the bit about Wordsworth writing the poem on the roof of a coach - not on a bridge at all! I never knew that! Unless he composed the poem in his head on the bridge and later wrote it while travelling ... My guess is he lied as one does in poems all the time in favour of the emotional truth. Go William. 

    I wanted to post this poem here today because it's in my Faber diary this week, and reading it again, I realised afresh how marvellous it is in its evocation of a new day dawning, and the hugeness of a beloved city and its beating heart. 

    I also can't help thinking of London and its river and bridges and going to work in the morning on the tube and walking those bricked streets to work. The glory of it on the best days. 

    This week at the TP hub is a poem that couldn't be further from London or Wordsworth - check out the post by editor Robert Sullivan. 
  • Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    Tuesday Poem: The Edge by Rethabile Masilo

    I walk into light
    in a straight line,
    I am warmth
    when I lick myself
    with this tongue;
    it's been a hard day
    but I'm back now,
    I am new earth
    for country, brother,
    for another swing
    at the thing gotten
    off thought's edge.
    No face, no head,
    no tail. Just you, I,
    and a need to save us
    from the wrong done
    to books. A dog leg
    caught in a trap
    is sawed off. Who
    knows what words
    were said to the girl
    at the well, the edge
    of what thought,
    before she dove in?
    I been trained by
    the turn of this century
    to be cuss words,
    the central insult
    in four-letter instants.
    If I stop now, short
    of the final thrill,
    the definitive answer,
    if I draw to one side
    away from your path,
    a curtain under cover
    of night, a season
    will go without me
    in the helix of rebirths.
    If I doubt the power
    vested in me through
    this colour, this tongue
    click, mountains
    that look at the sides
    with the bronze pity
    of joy, then all is lost.

    Rethabile is our newest Tuesday Poet - born in Lesotho the same year as me, and - in fact - in the same continent. I was born in Zambia but my only connection with that place is via my parents' memories. Rethabile is disconnected physically - for he lives now in Paris - but his heart is still there. 

    Rethabile's blog Poefrika celebrates African-inspired writing and writers, and personal heroes in the worlds of music and literature and politics. It's inspiring to see these names and faces, their stories, their poetry, and to read Rethabile's own work. In this poem, I like the way he talks to himself, asks questions, suggests different ways the story could go, describes an edge where - perhaps - he resides or could go (over), and returns to the main question of identity. I love 'I am warmth when I lick myself with this tongue', I love - but don't fully understand - 'the bronze pity of joy'.  I like the way the poem drives forward in its short-linked lines, like a tongue, a path, an arrow, confident in its shape, not breaking out of the edge the poet has set himself, and as such suggests all is indeed not lost.

    Thank you for permission to post your poem, Rethabile. 

    Please check out the hub for a post from Zireaux - At Melville's Tomb by Hart Crane - and such a commentary! Read to believe.