In March I composed and posted the poem at the bottom of this post.
Since then it has been accepted as this week's Weekly Highlight on the blog 'Frankfurt Book Fair: An Aotearoa Affair' which has been set up to celebrate New Zealand as the Guest of Honour at 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair in October (10th - 14th).
Check out this vibrant blog-fest of writers from (in the main) New Zealand and Germany getting inside the craft of writing to describe what makes writing matter, what makes them as writers tick, what inspires, what connects and what unites us all as partakers of life in this world of ours.
Writers! An opportunity below to participate in a short, short story contest - open to anyone anywhere.
June is FLASH FICTION MONTH in New Zealand, so we are gearing up at Aotearoa Affair for National Flash Fiction Day on 22 June by collecting flash stories — published or new — to post in the June edition of the Blog Carnival. Send your stories our way by 15 June for a Flash Across Borders issue, open to anyone anywhere.
Last night we went to the Dunedin Poetry Readings held at Circadian Rhythm. The guest poets Martha Morseth, David Eggleton and David Howard were excellent. (We are so lucky in Dunedin to have such high-quality poets among us). Emma Neale as MC was articulate and did a fantastic job of introducing the guest readers and rolling the evening along in an organised, friendly and up-beat manner. The two poems (her own) that she started the evening off with, were wonderful and read beautifully.
As always there was an Open Mic. part to the evening, which is always great value. I felt in the right frame of mind (in the zone, you might say) to partake and of course I read out the poem, 'picking up feathers'. Having Jenny and Chris in the audience added another level of support, making it extra special. (Or super-cool as Jenny would say).
Another thing which really helped was getting the buzzes in my pocket from my phone with Facebook messages from friends saying ... 'Go for it!' in response to me stating that I wasn't feeling too sure about reading the poem out. (So thanks to all of you - you know who you are and where in New Zealand & the world you were when you sent me the messages).
picking up feathers
You want to make things
- sew a home-made skirt
from my green pinny, make me
a herb garden - which
you achieved on one of our more
windless autumn days,
before you both left, you and my son
pushing the plants you bought
into earth - corriander,
parsley, mint and one
you didn't know the English word for
until we got out our English-German
Dictionary, discovered it was rocket;
in German, Rucola. You make a chain
of daisies for the van, for good luck.
You want to make feather earrings.
You want to see all
of New Zealand. You were eight
when the Wall came down.
You tell me bits
about your childhood
on the Baltic Coast,
about your parents' old car
a Trabant. A Trabant? I said,
Funny - my Grandad's car,
the one he owned
just before he died,
I'm pretty sure was a Trabant.
What colour was your one?
Light blue, you said. I said, Same!
But they were all that colour,
you said, light-blue
and made from paper.
You walk as light as a bird,
as strong as a lion. The morning
my son and you leave in the van,
I heard your voice as if I was hearing
the voice of a daughter and yesterday
while walking, I started picking up feathers
lost by seagulls in the grass
of playing fields. Only two days
away and already
I have forgotten your voice
how it sounds. How kiwi
your German accent is becoming.
For example how you say 'bed'
the way you hear us saying it.
"I'm off to bid now. Good-night",
you say. Ready for you to make
into earrings, I place the feathers,
soft, grey and white,
on a windowsill where they float
weightless, full of the light
and the distance
of a home away from home.
Kay McKenzie Cooke