You are back in that country
you claim you would love to vacate,
and I feel like the stoic, white cottage
with its vacant windows, the one I noticed
from the car.
Our telecommunication connections
are frequently bad –
sibilance and echoes, white noise –
I hear sentences that may not be true,
the sound waves crash against my ears,
a distant subaudible shore.
I am that vast red corrugated-iron
roof we saw for sale outside Whanganui,
mute and inanimate;
although an appalling longing to see your face
has forced my thoughts to pack their own bags
and even as I speak,
they are filling out a destination card
and boarding a flight to meet you.
I am that green rural delivery box
on the grassy verge of a farm near Sanson,
a lop-sided patient receptacle
waiting for notification of our next contact.
I'm posting this poem – which features in Crumple, which I am about to publish – in celebration of the fact that I've just finished the final touches. I hope.
I have so many favourite poems in this book, and this is one of them. I'm going to use an extract from it on the back cover: 'an appalling longing to see your face/has forced my thoughts to pack their own bags/and even as I speak,/they are filling out a destination card/and boarding a flight to meet you', because it highlights some of the themes of the book - rootlessness, longing, travel - and also because I found it such an arresting image. It's so concrete - describing a feeling by describing an action.
Here's the rest of my back-cover blurb, which I agonised over last weekend:
In Crumple Vivienne Plumb takes us on a series of journeys, both geographic and metaphoric.
These poems have itchy feet, wandering from Poland, to China, through Italy, Australia and home to New Zealand. But is New Zealand home, or where in New Zealand is home? We roam up and down the country, we get lost in Kiwi icons which swing between hyper-real familiarity and unsettling surrealism, we find ourselves again and again on a long-distance bus.
Our constant travelling companions are Plumb’s sharp observation, her quirky sense of humour, and her skill of skewering both the ridiculous and the miraculous in the everyday.
‘Best not to endure life / in the shallows, better to dive deep –’; Crumple is, in the end, a celebration of life and living.
Vivienne Plumb, with a New Zealand mother and Australian father, has spent much of her life crossing the Tasman.
One of literature’s all-rounders, as well as six previous collections of poetry, she has written plays, short fiction and a novel.
Plumb has held many awards and residencies, including the Hubert Church Award for a first book of fiction, the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship and a University of Iowa International Writing Programme residency.
Not one to sit still, she is currently dividing her time between Auckland and Sydney, where she is completing a doctorate in creative arts.
For more Tuesday Poems, check out the Tuesday Poem blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/