Poetry Shelf an occasional poem by Anna Jackson

Shine, there’s shine and starlings 
and I’m starting to wake up 
to a series of occasional 
poems, so far a series 
of one, the first in a procession 
I look forward to as the starlings, 
nesting as usual in the wall 
behind the fridge, start again with  
a new season of fledging  
and flights.  Yesterday  
Susan came over 
from next door with pastry 
that needed baking in our oven 
because hers has broken down and  
Lucinda was soon summoned to check 
on the state of the pastry while  
Robert was left on speaker-phone  
stoking his fire. He had been  
out gathering clay – but was it clay  
or had he been gathering mud, he  
wondered – to make a koauau  
to improve his poetry readings by 
layering in taonga pūoro.  I like 
his poetry readings because 
of the way they sound just like 
him talking and how  
talking to him on the phone is  
like a poetry reading I am invited 
to interrupt when occasionally 
I have something to add, a sudden  
flight, but poetry readings  
have taken on more and more shine  
and dimension these days with  
music and dancing, even in  
my dreams.  Last night, I dreamed   
of Robert’s koauau before waking  
to find a new series of occasional poetry  
launching on Poetry Shelf 
with Robert’s poem 
about gathering clay – but 
was it clay or was it mud, he  
wonders in the poem  
as he wondered on the phone, when 
he must have already been echoing  
the poem I read as an echo of the call, 
the poem he must have written  
before he talked to me about  
the mud, no the clay, and the koauau 
which is not yet made but one 
day will sound its sound  
into the air.  I feel it echo in me 
before its first sounding and  
I want to mark the occasion of the  
dream-sounding of the koauau and to mark 
the occasion too of the occasional  
poetry series launch, and the occasion of  
the clay-gathering and the pastry 
baking and the phone call  
and the reading of Robert’s poem,  
so I am writing an occasional  
poem of my own, this poem, if   
it is a poem, not just a muddy  
stream of words, probably needing  
music backing it, or back-up dancers 
feathered and shining, sounding  
a sound beyond the words, beyond 
the work, beyond the occasion, 
beyond the writing first thing  
in the morning, the new moon  
(Tirea now, we have passed Mutuwhenua) 
still quietly auspicious  
though invisible now as the sun  
rises, rises and turns, has been rising  
for a while now, rising as I write, the birds  
quietening and my shoulders  
stiffening, and I still  
in my pyjamas – I don’t  
even know the time.

Anna Jackson

Anna Jackson’s latest collection of poetry is Pasture and Flock: New and Selected Poems (Auckland University Press, 2018). She also recently released Actions and Travels, a book on poetry (Auckland University Press, 2022). She is based in Wellington.  


1 thought on “Poetry Shelf an occasional poem by Anna Jackson

  1. Pingback: Poetry Shelf occasional Poems: weekend diary and Janet Newman’s ‘Goodbye Kukutauaki Road’ | NZ Poetry Shelf

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