Tuesday Poem: ‘Well’ by Emma Neale


Afterwards, I stood with my child
on the river’s bridge
over the storm swollen rapids.

Make your two wishes, he said,
and into my hands he pressed
shredded petals he’d found, fallen
from the peach-silk hot house flowers
he calls ‘the singing plant’
for their glorious, open mouths.

Their colour flared like tossed coins
towards the river’s turbulent surface:
on contact still they burnt a moment
like soft metal lit by air —
then were pulled beneath the bridge and gone.

What did you wish? he asked, as we walked on —
and I could have confessed each one:
your name, and what I wanted, still want
to have you choose to say: but then as good admit

I wished to be like water:
able to take whatever fractures it —
floodwrack, oar-thrust, fish leap,
the birds’ swift javelin stabs
as they hurtle down and pierce its skin —
and to then as smoothly mend again
as if the mind could be its own physician.

Emma Neale

‘Well’ appeared in Takahe Issue 65, winner of the 2008 Takahe Poetry Competition. Emma’s three collections of poetry are: Sleeve Notes, How to Make a Million, and Spark. Her poem ‘Proposal’ appears here in Best New Zealand Poems 2009. Emma is editor of the Otago Daily Times’ Monday’s Poem.

And you can find other Tuesday Poems here.

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