21 December 2010

Tuesday Poem, Secret Santa edition: 'Christmastide' by Helen Lowe


Christmas—and we
like so many others
are washed north
on a tide of summer,
our route signposted
by pohutukawa,
all flowering late
against a mirage
of cabbage trees,
dusty in the heat
that shimmers
above melting tar—
the whole country baking
as the nation makes
its annual pilgrimage
of Christmas and New Year:
Good to see ya, we say,
or simply mate, pouring out
a cool one before we sit
down together, buoyant
with the sunshine
and the colour,
the high tide of summer.

by Helen Lowe

Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet and broadcaster. She won a Robbie Burns Poetry Prize (NZ) in 2003 and the A2O Prize (Australia) in 2007 and has been published and anthologised in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Her first novel, Thornspell (Knopf, 2008), won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel: Young Adult in 2009 and her second, The Heir of Night (Eos, USA; Orbit, UK) has just been published. Helen hosts a monthly poetry programme on Women on Air, Plains 96.9 FM.

This week, because it's almost Christmas, we Tuesday Poets have paired up and are posting each other's poems on our blogs. I was very happy to be paired with Helen Lowe (I am developing a belief that there are a disproportionate number of poets called Helen), who I have come to know through her work in JAAM (I've just published a couple of her poems in JAAM 28), through her blog (http://helenlowe.info/blog/) and who I have even met in real life, at a Poetry Society anthology launch.

We decided on a summer/Christmas theme, and sent each other a few poems to chose from. I decided on this one, because it seems to glow with yellow sun and blue water. Can't you just feel the heat and smell the barbeque? We New Zealanders seem to hold two images of Christmas in our heads - the one with snow and robins, and our actual summer Christmas; and I love that this poem celebrates the summer Christmas.

So, over on Helen Lowe's blog you'll find my summer poem: 'Burning with Joan of Arc' (it may not sound like a summer poem, but just trust me).

And over on the Tuesday Poem blog you'll find other secret Santa poems. And have a good Christmas!

1 comment:

Elizabeth Welsh said...

Christmas time to me is all about hot black tar melting onto the soles of your feet and staying their for days afterwards, so I was, obviously, enamoured with this poem! It sums up Christmas in NZ perfectly! Thanks so much for posting!