from a sonnet sequence called Fancy Dancing
Drowning is painless, or so they say, when we die
we’ll look as though we’re sleeping. How many thousands
and thousands are sleeping now in the swollen waters
of the Mediterranean? It’s enough to break your heart.
Maggie dropped in for a drink after work
the other day. Tears in the street. I’ve given her
our mother’s lovely little blue Limoges plate.
We talked about the grandfather we’d never met,
Alexander, thrown out of the family for some reason
we are left to imagine. I found him earlier this year,
lying all on his own in an unmarked grave in Ashburton.
You can drown in loneliness, it seems, just like in water.
We’ll put up a stone with his name on it, such a small gesture.
Bernadette Hall lives in a renovated bach at Amberley Beach in the Hurunui, North Canterbury. She has published ten collections of poetry, the most recent being Life & Customs (VUP 2013) and Maukatere, floating mountain (Seraph Press 2016). In 2015 shereceived the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry. In 2016 she was invested as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature. In 2017 she joined with three other Christchurch writers to inaugurate He Kōrero Pukapuka, a book club which meets weekly at the Christchurch Men’s Prison.