Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Her name isn't Eve

She holds pale snake and bitten apple
like she's the first woman on earth like
the first time you tasted your own
blood like a child punished for hunger
but her name is not Eve

She bears the world on her shoulders
bent like a softer version of Atlas like
a thousand people have loved her and
left like ocean grinds down solid stone
but her name was never Eve

She carries light bulb promise in her hip
bones and your salt salvation in her thin
breasts like the name you always forget
like desire always finds a way to ground
but her name isn't Eve

She walks prickle footed and sunburn shy
with witchcraft in her hair and flint in her
chest for when they knife her, when she's cut
she will spark and scar you, she knows burn
but her name is never Eve

Friday, April 21, 2017

If my trauma could talk

Today my trauma wants a poem written about it. It wants to be heard like the fierce crack of thunder when everyone is looking at the gorgeous lightning. It wants to be made more beautiful than it is, to be wrapped up in metaphor and disguised on stretched canvas.
It wants to escape the soft trembling cage of my body and scamper around stepping on people's toes and scratching their legs and licking their faces and saying look, look what she carries inside her.

See how she says no to the right people and yes to the wrong ones. See how she plunges into healing like tumbling off a cliff during a storm. How she can't help dragging the sandpaper of memory across her tender skin. How she forgets that safety feels like pulling the blankets up around her ears at night. Like quiet, like sunshine and dappled shade. Like a purring cat that won't leave her alone. Like kisses that don't make her tremble. That love doesn't have to feel like it's going to blow up inside her.

My trauma wants to be all alone like a lighthouse, a beacon for where not to go. It wants company that can stroke its raised hackles but doesn't know what that means or how to ask. It wants to change its name into an un-pronounce-able calm. It wants to tell you everything, like the rings of a tree hold history. It wants to forget everything.  It doesn't know how to end this poem.

Friday, March 10, 2017

An introvert abroad - day 7

Day 7.

The Mountain.

Remember when service station attendants used to fill your car with fuel for you? Yeah, seems they do that here. I didn't know what to do with myself while he did, so I ended up buying a drink I didn't really need. Not sure if it's good old-fashioned service or clever sales tactics. Maybe both.

I climbed a small area of Mount Taranaki. About 3 hours of walking altogether. If I had more time and fitness, I'd have stayed longer and done the "goblin forest" walk too (isn't it magical that is actually a thing, not just a figment of the imagination).

So, so beautiful. It seems strange to call something natural "amazing", when it's there all the time. Creatures and plants and animals and fungi and bacteria and precipitation and sunlight all doing their thing. We cityfolk just forget about it, surround ourselves with things, landscapes modified beyond recognition.

At lunch I met a rooster named Grandfather, in a homely barn converted to a country restaurant. I ate a Prutje dutch pancake (well, half of it. It was a calzone-style filled pancake that was possibly bigger than my head).

On the way back, I stopped randomly in a little town and found the memento I've been looking for (one that eluded me in the tourist gift shops and bigger centres). A hand carved stone pendant in the symbol manaia: "(Guardian Angel) The manaia symbolizes a mythical being with a bird’s head a human body and fish tail. The invisible light surrounding a person."

Has it really been a week already? It seems like much less and much more time simultaneously.

Mount Taranaki with his head in the the clouds

Tethered to the sky

Thursday, March 9, 2017

An introvert abroad - day 6

Day 6.

M is for mountain goat.

After spending half the morning rearranging my itinerary (to avoid severe weather and flooding in Coromandel, where I planned to end my tour), I set out for the day, unsure of where I was going. I ended up climbing Paritutu Rock via a route that can barely be called a path. I ate morning tea with a magnificent view. My legs were mush by the time I got back to the car.

I was tired for the rest of the day, physically and mentally. No philosophy or insights today. Not much magic. Just meandering. A couple of second hand shops... a rock-lined waterway... kinetic sculptures in an art gallery... a massage... a little too much icecream after dinner. I think I'll sleep well tonight.

"Everything has been said..." - Mary-Louise Browne

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

An introvert abroad - day 5

Day 5.

Today was a day of scents.

The damp earth after all-night rain.
Stale cigarette smoke wafting out of the car upholstery.
The after-scent on my clothes after sitting in a restaurant with an open kitchen.
The peculiar, distinctive dry-damp odour of caves.
The changing quality of the air from green inland valleys to wooded mountains to salty coast.
Passing livestock trucks.
The homely smell of frying onions.
Fresh nail polish.

Inside an inky black cave, galaxies of glowworms. They are actually considered maggots when they are in the phase of development where they glow. But, as our guide eloquently summarised: "we didn't think anyone would pay to see glow-maggots". I tried to not breathe the unwashed odour of the backpackers shoulder-to-shoulder with me in the boat, and wished I could stay under that miniature night sky much longer.

In half an hour on this beach, so many sensory delights that I can hardly catch them all. Black sand, sprinkled with spectacular driftwood of all sizes. The shading of the clouds and the water beneath them, from storm-backed grey horizon to hidden golden sunset. Drying seaweed wafting its sticky stench over the beach.

The sound of rounded stones clattering over each other in the waves takes my mind into the past. Last year I briefly dated a man who was blind. Deprived of the option of sharing images of the quirky things I notice in daily life and the beautiful places I experienced, I started recording sound bites to share instead. I found myself listening to the world differently, finding unusual landmarks in the constant landscape of noise. It was almost 6 months ago, and I still haven't lost the habit, or a lingering kernel of sadness at how it ended.

Then, as I'm sitting on a rock overlooking the waves, two bull mastiff pups run to me. Ignoring the urging of their gap-toothed owner, and my nudges, they sit their warm flanks down against my thigh and lower back, and push their heads under my hand and elbow. The next person to walk past comments that I have "the best seat in the world". I agree. On the walk back, two young black cats with white bibs scamper under the boardwalk. A cluster of surfers whoop and holler further out from the beach. And I walk back to the house smiling.