Literati to Aotearoa

My apologies for the recent dearth of posts. Unfortunately, that will continue for a little longer, as I will be traveling to New Zealand for a research project on the rhetoric and performance of Shakespeare in the nineteenth century.

However, in celebration of my trip, I’d like to leave you with a poem the Best New Zealand Poems 2002 collection. It’s called The Child in the Gardens: Winter, by Vincent O’Sullivan, and it’s courtesy of the International Institute of Modern Letters. Enjoy!

The Child in the Gardens: Winter

How sudden, this entering the fallen
gardens for the first time, to feel the blisters
of the world’s father, as his own hand
does. It is everything dying at once,
the slimed pond and the riffling of leaves,
shoes drenched across sapless stalks.
It is what you will read a thousand times.
You will come to think, who has not stood
there, holding that large hand, not said
Can’t we go back – I don’t like this place.
Your voice sounds like someone else’s. You
rub a sleeve against your cheek, you want
him to laugh, to say, ‘The early stars can’t hurt
us, they are further than trains we hear
on the clearest of nights.’ We are in a story
called Father, We Must Get Out.
Leaves scritch at the red walls,
a stone lady lies near the pond, eating
dirty grass. It is too sudden, this
walking into time for its first lesson,
its brown wind, its scummed nasty
paths. You know how lovely yellow
is your favourite colour, the kitchen at home.
You touch the big gates as you leave,
the trees stand on their bones, the shoulders
on the vandaled statue are huge cold
eggs. Nothing there wants to move.
You touch the gates and tell them, We
are not coming back to this place. Are we, Dad?

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