Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Jennifer Compton’s ‘A Farm in the King Country’


A Farm in the King Country



On the shelf beside the brick chimney piece

in the farmhouse lounge room (off the hall)


a room that was out of the usual run of things

(a lofty box, a sash window, a retreating echo)


I came across a copy of Faces In The Water

(with a dangerous cover) written by a certain


Janet Frame. A woman by her name, and why

would they lie? And from the words written


on the back, she was one of us. Had I never

laid my hands/eyes upon a book by a NZer


before? (No, never.) I read, sitting on the rump

of a dusty sofa, as the other people were doing


something useful outside. Finding chook eggs

in the orchard, milking the house cow, hoeing


cabbages, rendering horse fat to clean harness.

And the stink of her menstrual blood shook me


out of my orbit. (Forever.) Outside this wooden

box a mountain and her sisters claimed ground.



Jennifer Compton was born in Wellington and now lives in Melbourne. Recent work has been published in Antipodes, Cicerone, Not Very Quiet, Poetry New Zealand, Rabbit, Styluslit, The Frogmore Papers, The Moth, and Verity La. Her next book of poetry, ‘the moment, taken’, nears completion.

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