Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Tuesday poem #561 : Margaret Ronda : Postcards





Should we walk to town? It’s started to rain again.
Time was eating little lines into our faces.
Interislander ferries carved silver marks, morning
and afternoon, across the harbor. Two mouths
drawing near, sliver of breath between.
Lacquered light on the horizon against iron
blue edge. We were new to the place.
A month elapsed, then another, May, June.
Black fern trees spread out fan-like.
A small island encircled by skies and grasses
and waves. We cracked pink eggs into a bowl,
peeled oranges. One night the northerlies
were so fierce they blew off the front door.

We learned the names of extinct birds,
the clearing of the kahikatea and kauri trees,
milk farms elbowing in. Wilding pines.
In morning dark a thousand headlights
scrolled the shoreline road. Learned one song:
wind wind wind. Begins in a whisper, gets torn up
from there. The landlord said, it’s lasted
this long, rickety cliffside place, though it heaves
in the gale.  Summer buried itself
in angry fall across the sea, we stopped
hearing from home.

Slowly, softer squares of sun appeared,
the first golden hats of kowhai.
Some days a skittish feel in the air,
some days a scissors slash of ice.
The world was far from anything we knew:
the earth mother stirring beneath
the ocean, mountain gods battling for love,
water spirit stranded by an earthquake.
There were rowers speeding across
mild waves. Stars leaking through
thinning clouds. Tui whirred and crooned
in the ponga. Read about the braided rivers
of Canterbury, the county fire back home.

Tried not to dwell on memory, accident,
those other continents. Our neighbor
grew ill and cried out from his bed.
Soon he was still, and his mother wept
in the garden. A feeling swelled and ebbed.
To live is not to belong.
We listened for what churned
below the ceaseless wind. Maybe the sea?





Margaret Ronda is the author of two poetry collections, For Hunger (Saturnalia Books, 2018) and Personification (2010), winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, Gulf Coast, Agni, VOLT, West Branch, and Columbia Poetry Journal. She is the author of a critical study, Remainders: American Poetry at Nature’s End (Stanford University Press, Post*45 Series, 2018). She teaches American poetry and environmental literature and theory at the University of California-Davis.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

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