Best New Zealand Poems 2002
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On the car windscreen I saw the line of roses
tucked beneath the two front wipers
and how they were placed, wholehearted over glass,
as if by Rousseau or some fabulist poet
laying no leash upon his energies – not
those hybrid buds displayed in shops,
pruned, pared, all red perfection,
but the blown centres of blowsy pinks
from beyond the reach of gardens.
You must have been cold when you went out to pick them
for I’d needed my coat when I stormed from the house
and drove to this play about sisters, dying.
You would have leaned over the bank’s dark edge
scratching your hands as you felt for each bloom,
cutting the head from its stem.

You couldn’t have known you would find my car.
I couldn’t have known you’d come looking.

You couldn’t be sure I’d be there at all –
I might have gone for coffee, to a bar, started walking
(this need to see the forces that move our own lives)
gone searching for the blue flower.
Me now, coming quickly out into the night
– weight of our fight, those sisters, dying –
crowds pushing past, a crane too, I’m sure,
bulked up on the wharf with its own force
of gravity, and stars coming on, when across the car
park, your fervid interruption:
– rose upon rose upon rose upon rose –
(Romanticism grew out of a craving for the infinite)
and how suddenly it all simply falls away,
the part of the night which was my own making,
the part of the night which was the day’s making,
and in its place, the part which is my knowing again,
again, that you know, you really do know,
how to utterly slay me, baby.


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