Category: Life

  • Poem for the new year

    I’m weary and short of words, but praise be for Muriel Rukeyser… THIS PLACE IN THE WAYS Having come to this placeI set out once againon the dark and marvellous wayfrom where I began:belief in the love of the world,woman, spirit, and man. Having failed in all thingsI enter a new ageseeing the old ways…

  • Burning off the old year

    (Make it Friday, okay? That’s the day before Saturday.) ‘Please come on MondayThe day after SundayAnd mind that you start withSomething to part with;A fire shall be readyGlowing and steadyTo receive it and burn itAnd never return it.Books that are silly,Clothes outworn and chilly,Hats, umbrellas and bonnets,Dull letters, bad sonnets,Whate’er to the furnaceBy nature calls…

  • Slipping out of 2010

    Most people I know have had a turbulent year. And then Christmas was suddenly upon us. Plenty have decided to flag it altogether: no cards, no gifts, no relatives, no fuss. I let it slide to a certain point and then suddenly I want: carols and oratorios, the scent of pine needles, tinselly evenings full…

  • Head for the hills

    Getting away is always worth it. I don’t know how I forget to, caught month after month in the loop of routine. Mt Peel was waiting just a few hours up the road and a friend joined me for the day walk, no, tramp, for which we were glad we’d chosen boots over gymshoes —…

  • I sighed all evening

    Perhaps I’ve spent too long on the same project, too many hours in my own head, had too many weeks of routine. I didn’t know how susceptible I was. Last night at the Dudley Benson concert I almost drowned. Inundated by wonder. After the opening performance by Cat Ruka with a metronome, a chair, heavy…

  • The stuff of life

    There were a lot of sticking plasters in the pool this morning. My new togs aren’t as comfy as the old ones but it was a good swim. I came home and read a woman’s story of how she tried as a child to kill herself. The cat curled up in the dog’s basket. I…

  • Tangible

    Aaah, there’s nothing like a lovely object. I’ve spent so much of this year tinkering with words and ideas on screen, in order to create a book that I’ll never hold in my hands* — and I accept that this is how it is for now. Anyway, it was delicious to go and buy 12…

  • October

    Zac, 10 months, takes the world by mouth. Visiting the other day, he was unfazed by brass on the tongue as he alternately licked and tinkled, one bell in each hand. The lilac’s just coming out, reminding me of the poem I wrote some years ago. Canterbury On this day of giftsmy mother’s familiar handremembers…

  • 7 a.m.

    Daughter closing up her bags. Five-year visa. Heart-squeeze. Life is painful and wonderful.

  • A year ago

    Calafate, Patagonia. You might not be able to discern the pink bird in left midfield. A flamingo: I was stalking it across the wastes. Elena followed loyally until she stepped in up to her ankle. She mightn’t want to come to NZ, she said, if this was the kind of thing we did there. Nevertheless…

  • Testing times

    The day after Canterbury’s buildings underwent their first trial by earthquake, the nor-west wind roared through Otago, shoving at trees. This beauty used to supervise the playground. Falling, it considerately divided for the park bench. Its heart was worn out. Today the DCC sliced and carted it away.

  • Rise and fall

    Sap is rising in the garden, bringing flesh and blushes to the magnolia next door, and making trees vulnerable (does it?). A roguish nor-easter felled the pink-flowering manuka across the front fence and footpath last week. Sap glistened under the bark. Its wood was wet in the saw’s teeth, and weighed in our hands as…

  • Make your own allegory

    On the most interesting walks, only a short portion of the track is visible at a time. Unless you’ve travelled that way before, you can’t know what lies around the next corner. Or the one after that. If you could see the tiger crouching up ahead (or, let’s get local, the dead possum ponging, or…

  • Busy as bees…

    …but as purposeful? Do you sometimes wonder, after a day of buzzing hither and yon on the internet, if you still have what it takes for solid reflection, retreat, and rich, slow creative endeavour? Here’s a prod for contemplation: an essay Driven to Distraction: Cate Kennedy on the internet and the writing life — in…

  • Enhancing the pastelitos

    One of the residents (chez moi) said there’s no excuse these days for putting out food that looks less than enticing. He suggested I go and try ‘enhance’ and ‘crop’ and ‘brighten’. I did all of these things. I think the plate comes over a little garish, that the centre of the pastelito resembles rather…

  • Dulce

    I saw treats like these in the pastry shops in Buenos Aires last year but Elena would always say I mustn’t eat those ones; wait until we got home. ‘Home’ was Jujuy in the far north, on the outskirts of the city, and early in my stay we wandered out the gate onto the gravel…

  • Capable

    Lest anyone gain the impression that Polly’s merely a pretty face among cushions… She does her bit. Structural edits mostly. We of the five digits do the close work and the proof reading. Thanks everyone who tripped through the intertidal zone the last couple of days, and said so. That was fun!

  • Well?

    Polly: when her whiskers were still white and all her teeth intact. She wears that, Did you notice me here — wanting a walk? look. I thought I’d run a little survey to see if anyone notices Polly and me here. Is my blog visited by anyone besides my mother and a handful of benevolent…

  • Pangs

    Now and then, despite your best intentions and efforts to be Present, Here and Now, you’re struck by a sudden longing to be somewhere else, such as here on a wild Ahuriri River tributary where the air smells of wet rock, beech litter and snow. Or in some other homeland, heartland of your own. And…

  • Crime spree

    Members of my houseful have often read crime fiction around me, wading through entire oeuvres, while I’ve done my best to avoid it. When there’s a detective story on TV, mine’s the irritating, ‘Who’s that again?’ ‘Wait, what just happened?’ while the others know from the opening scene who done it. Last month I spent…

  • Inter-island magic

    Recognise this stunning photo? Strange to say, a woman called Jill in Dunedin saw Island’s cover in the Otago Daily Times the other day, and knew the picture to be Jason Swain’s of Freshwater Bay in the Isle of Wight. She contacted him. He contacted me… Read that story here, and check out Jason’s gorgeous…

  • Help

    It’s not often that a person loses her health, her faith, her home, herjob, most of her friends all in one fell swoop. So when that person picks herself back up and meticulously pieces together her own life — sifting, sorting, reclaiming and building from the ground up, then finds her voice and reconstructs her…

  • Not far from Sydney

    And here’s the generous interview posted by Tim Jones: Books in the Trees, talking with me last week about Island.

  • Who’s got all the knives?

    Poet Salman Masalha writes from Jerusalem on the recent exploits of ‘Israel’s pirate army’.

  • Exuberant

    I was feeling jaded and anxious about my new/old/latest/ongoing project. It was all too much. I couldn’t even think about it. Then I teed up a meeting with Beverly, but felt so despondent I almost cancelled. Not quite, however. She asked me questions, got me to peel back the layers of diffidence, helped me uncover…