Poetry

Faithful to you, Tarahaka o Kaimatau

 

Though the clouds fled from your armpits

in spectacular foggy spirals, he gave me red dust

 

compacted and thrust above the curved earth. Below

I saw the Early Ones warm their hands over fire

 

offering up babies wrapped in skin and blood;

I saw dingos and camels and dust. When I returned

 

you showed me the folds of your cloak, tan-gold

hebe-green, slain with purple gashes. I fell among

 

the prickly matagouri that smelt of pink and tea

and woke in communion with a white gentian.

 

I stayed with you and named your parts: turpentine,

tussock, scree, kea, karearea, odonata zealandica

 

who, despite me still, flit incandescent and

irretrievable over the braids of the Deception.

 

First published Cordite Poetry Review 44

 

A poem with words is not to be trusted

 

Every word is defined by other words

Take house for instance

And deconstruct it stick by stone

Or build it from H and S and O — 

The sound of howls, and hours

Spent learning strict grammarian rules

—This structure in our cerebral soup

To hold onto like an olfactory memory of

Damp cotton and pink bats in the walls

My house is not your house

Though my windows and doors are open

I try to come in

One word at a time

We might move through rooms

With skeleton keys jangling on closet doors

I try to keep you warm

But I don’t seek warmth; I seek meaning

I taught you language

I learned words

Take house for instance

by Gail and Rata Ingram

First appeared at DWF 2018

 

A love story

The walking stick, a fine specimen

looked exactly like a brown stick

of grass on a stalk of brown grass

 

from there into the car and onto my knee.

I didn’t mean to take him anywhere

near or as far as Kaikoura, but

 

lucky for the walking stick, we had stopped

at the road end next to a kowhai tree

and a picnic table steeped in long grass

 

I flicked him out the door,

saw he landed right way up

next to another walking stick

 

two walking sticks on a grass stalk

like sticks of grass, and I hoped he’d found

the right one.

 

Equine Connection

 

swing up slow

drop in

your saddle   feel

the leather ripple

in your palm   connect

to the mouth   the quiet

flickering mind   see

the soft

switching ears listening

to your cluck and pressure

of heel   and feel

the jolt then sway

of motion   the connect

of bone   the swish

of air  

tickle your face  

 

you laugh

the wind breath

of the horse

 

Commended 2014 NZPS International Poetry Competition.

First published in Take Back Our Sky NZPS Anthology 2014  

 

© 2018 Gail Ingram. Site design Rata

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