Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Sophia Wilson’s ‘Foreign’

Foreign

We have given ourselves to the westerly —

endured ferocious welcome: swoop, pound, shriek.

There are other inhabitants: thorny and bawdy, 

clutch-clambering boundary lines, colonising dreamscapes:

gorse, thistle, ragwort, broom — invasive as their forebears.

The bulk of mountain in whose lap we land —

magnificent, fresh rebellion, is both protector and destroyer;

the one on whom we depend for passage of rain-bellied clouds —

for we have settled in its rain shadow.

In summer we draw water painstakingly from

a small vein — scarce, essential source,

undergo marathons — days bent,

sweat-sewn, hack and pull, rip and carve

corridors through thorn’s terrain

to impregnate, in gorse’s womb, a softer future:

kōwhai, kānuka, shining karamū.

The toll — toil-weathered spine, skin, skeins,

old age peering through our cobwebbed pane.

Sophia Wilson

Sophia Wilson has writing recently published, or forthcoming in Love in the Time of COVID (A chronicle of a pandemic), NZ Poetry Society Anthology, Blackmail Press, Flash Frontier, Landfall, Australian Poetry Anthology, Mayhem, Intima, Poetry New Zealand, Not Very Quiet and elsewhere. She is based in Woodside, Otago.

The poem is from the sequence ‘Attempting to Land’, runner up in the 2020 Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poetry. Judge Siobhan Harvey’s words re the sequence: ‘Stunning. A beautifully crafted ode to migration.’

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