18 October 2010

Tuesday Poem: 'White Heron Flying' by Jenny Powell

White Heron Flying

and the jarring road
to Nha Trang
curdle into self distraction

and the relentless day
scatter seeds
of snivelling self doubt

Highway 1,
main road north
to the coast, place of Hao’s
heart and home

xxxxx Late night
xxxxx and a feast of welcome,
xxxxx forcing myself to food,
xxxxx craving Disprin and sleep

xxxxx Leave
xxxxx at 5 am for the beach
xxxxx crowds on sand and sea
xxxxx broadcasts of the ‘news’

xxxxx Lumber
xxxxx to Tai Chi, Hao lithe
xxxxx and graceful moving
xxxxx leopard like, camouflaged

into the balance
of waves, turning the tides
shifting the spaces

sinks and lifts
arms circle in backstroke
legs test the ground ahead

resistance leaves
sink and lift, arms play
in patterns above, behind

xxxxx Tiredness
xxxxx dissolves, anxiety
xxxxx falls away shoulders
xxxxx drop back straightens

xxxxx Turning
xxxxx to the sun rising,
xxxxx breathing into the balance
xxxxx of sea and white feathered clouds

xxxxx Leopard
xxxxx faces heron,
xxxxx Hao follows my flight
xxxxx across his morning sky

Jenny Powell is a poet and teacher who lives and writes in St Clair, Dunedin.This poem comes from her most recent collection Viet Nam: A Poem Journey, which has just been published by HeadworX.

The book is a kind of travelogue around Vietnam, but with a twist. After having a Vietnamese teacher, Hao, stay with her family, Jenny had a strong desire to travel to Vietnam to visit him, but due to medical reasons, it is impossible. And so the poet turns inwards: 'Is it possible to love a country you have never been to? Is it possible to visit a country in your imagination?' she asks in the introduction. The poems show that it is.

The surprising thing about the poems, given their imagined nature, is the specificity. She visits markets, meets people, dodges traffic, and, in this poem, has a headache. It's the headache and the desire for disprin that, for me, anchors this poem in reality, while the leopard and the heron elevate the poeticism. It's definitely one of my favourite in the collection.

It's been a while since I've posted a Tuesday poem - my insane busyness is showing signs of slowing, so I hope to be a more regular poster again.

The other Tuesday poets are much more reliable. You can find them here, on the Tuesday Poem blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/.

1 comment:

Helen Lowe said...

I very much enjoyed this poem and would not have believed the poet had not been to Vietnam if you had not told me so.