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Photo by Michelle Elvy, Poem by Walter Bjorkman


Photo by Walter Bjorkman, Poem by Michelle Elvy

His body so broad you could climb his everest hips
so high you could scale the shoulders to the sky
the fishing rod as thick as your thin fragile wrist
the line’s heavy twill the four-ounce sinkers – my soft fingers
sense a strong pull, a laugh, his rough hands only a gentle tug
his whisper some grass, then his reeling big laugh
my first blackfish the hugging embrace under fire-brick sun

muscles chests tendons sinews sweat in unbearable fire
thighs tightening torsos tensing arms flailing faces shining
as we twist flex and bump and brush against each other
tossed to the ether floating safely to his arms in summer care
his face all grit – bloody scrapes and scars on hands of
tools hammering sawing sawdusting grinding now splashing
soaking smiling we being one – suddenly none ever more

sand and sea
sand and dad and sea
sand playgrounds of dad and sea
sand coffee with dad and me and living sea
sand coffee and breathing dad and me fishing sea
sand coffee and smokes a lost dad and sea
sand smoke memories of dad and me
smokes and coffee memories
smoky memories

and this memory that doesn’t make time stand still or come alive
but is. is in the scar is in the muscles in the sweat sweat
from the same chest in the same fingers reaching out for any
hand that feels the same gentle tug

In winter I dream of summer but not here
Here I see the world in slumber
silent still, breathing waiting,
her branches black and ancient
white shoulders heavy with weight of winter
She holds all our memories in her bent arms
her drifts like sand, she sifts time, whips wind

and catches my snowflake memories, almost lost
worn by years of forgetting, of playing adult
but alive, here, fresh as snow and crystal clear:
red mittens sledding and a split rail splitting as I was heading
too fast to everything. Then cousin’s cold fingers mending me warm
his breath in my hair voice in my ear whispering thaw
as we passed a cigarette and drifted into snow

fire and snow
fire cousin and snow
fire-breathing cousin sled and snow
fire-breathing cousin sled bed and snow
sled snow and tea, cigarettes my cousin and me
fire snow cigarettes, drink my cousin with tea
cigarettes and tea and me buried in snow
cigarettes muffled memory and snow
cigarettes and snow

now cousin wears suits in a glass tower life with memories iced
but this snowdrifting landscape shapes the scar on my head
I rub it, feel the fence, but mostly leave it alone
and my kids tug my sled and wear mittens, blue not red

This poetry collab is posted for this month’s Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival, hosted by Christopher Allen. The theme this month is “Bi”  – so this 2011 collaboration (Michelle in a summery New Zealand, myself in a wintry Maryland) seemed to fit. Michelle has also posted a collab revival at Glow Worm (where she tells you all about poetry, life on a sailboat & lots more!)
These two poems and photographs were originally published in BluePrint Review issue #27, 2011. For more about the collaborative process, you can read a short commentary here.

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Bi — An Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival | Frankfurt Bookfair 2012: A blog test affair

  2. Pingback: Bi — An Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival | An Aotearoa Affair

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