06 February 2012

Tuesday poem: 'Vital Melancholy'

Vital melancholy

The first time you took me
to your home
town you brought me here
to the cemetery
Already you knew me
my penchant for graveyards

Wound tight with desire
we meandered between the rows
more than half immersed
in each other
You showed me
the hill where you camped one Halloween
where you ran home in fear
the shortcut

I was shocked to realise
only six years later
the romance has gone
from death
and gravestones make me sad
Your hand holding mine
keeps me from the earth
holds me in the sky

I never felt
I had anything
to lose

Two nights ago
driving the storm road
beside the lake
I realised I was afraid
Now knowing that the world
is frightening
for children because
they don’t understand it
and frightening for grown ups
because they do

I decided to post this poem (previously published in My Iron Spine) today because the last stanza is about driving beside Lake Taupo in bad weather, and we've just got back from a long weekend in that same area of the world. We had a quite different experience of bad weather on the way up - fog on the Desert Road. That can be quite a tense road at the best of times, but in the fog it was something else. I've had a go at writing a poem about that eerie but cool experience, but it needs some work.

Hope you've all had a pleasant Waitangi Day, whether you're in NZ or elsewhere.


Rachel Fenton said...

I think the last stanza captures so well that childhood fear, and brings to adulthood the realisation we are all children still.

The really scary people are the ones whoo think they're grown ups.

Helen Rickerby said...

Thanks Rachel!