from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

the only markers you had: Gerard Couper

The Tuesday poem from Confluence comes today from Gerard Couper. Just as it's been hard to choose which of his poems to post (and in fact I've chosen two), it's hard to speak about Gerard. Rather like his work, there are strata beneath the understated straightforwardness that give themselves up slowly. In the book I say about him: Gerard is a Crazy Wisdom Master. Just when you think he’s laughing and that this is a gentle poem about nature, or his daughter, he trips you up with words that glint like a blade, or black ice just showing up in spring sunlight; words that send you back to the beginning. He comes from New Zealand.

Road Markings

Back then, out in the sticks,
there were just dirt roads strung with telephone lines, gangly,
ill at ease in a shirt and tie

At night, he told me,
the poles were the only markers you had, the Braille
that stopped your ute sliding into the manuka scrub
or some cockie’s paddock

So tall and raw-boned he was
that you imagined
he didn’t need a ladder slung in the back
of the powerboard truck

It seemed a desertion to me
when they moved to the bungalow in town

while Nanna did the crossword
denaturing the vegetables for midday dinner

he slouched in the garden
keeping the company of those other long-boned beings
the rake and the clothesline


The very last time he met me
we waited while my rucksack bobbed on the carousel

pohutakawas in fire blossom on the Hutt Road
stopping to buy timber for his d-i-y
if he sat on this beach now
he still wouldn’t say anything

I would still slam down these last few words
and bolt

  – Gerard Couper

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive