Best New Zealand Poems 2002
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Blue Shirts, Descending

(after Apollinaire)

I was happy
in the South,
so happy with what
I smelt and saw –
wild mint near the washing,
peppery roquette on opening
the door.
It was so good
that the moon
hung around for much
of the day, anxious not to miss
anything. And the light . . .
the light on her blue shirt,
descending . . . the
lights . . . even the fig tree shone
at night.
All transport lived
in a suitcase
and the children travelled
in search of the past
at the speed of two
horses, but carefully,
so as not to break
the eggs.
So happy were we
at our friends’ house
that I emptied my
pockets, then emptied them
some more, then
surrendered my pockets
to the wall.
Three quiet skirts
circled over all.


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