Hallelujah on the Presidential Highway
Gore to Clinton on State Highway One
Fogged. Loomy. Slews of rain. Hedgerow flax, tall eucalypts,
macrocarpa shelter belts. Pugged and puddled paddocks.
Abandoned cottages slide past; south-wall weatherboards
slump. A woolshed roof has fallen in. In Gore I ask directions
to the Art Gallery. The man says Do we have an art gallery?
Eventually I find it: shut. The Mataura writhes cow-piss yellow
at the bridge. Slip Leonard in the slot - a song, friend, a song.
Fonterra's silver city glides into view. Cohen creaks and cracks -
Hallelujah, hallelujah - and the towers shine. Praise it all, insists
his voice of hopelessness, praise it all to broken hopeful heaven. Praise
the wars, the lies, the constant talk of peace; praise clean white
wealth, unlooked-at art, spilt milk, shut galleries, lost sheep.
"By Birdlight", in which this poem appears, is Sue Wootton's third collection. I purchased it immediately on release towards the end of last year, as I knew from her previous two books that I would enjoy it. I had a hard time choosing from many possibilities which poem to present here. However, I found myself drawn to the celebratory nature of this poem, against an unpromising rain-darkened and somewhat desolate landscape.
For the benefit of overseas readers - Gore and Clinton are small towns in the south of New Zealand. Gore's art gallery has collections of far greater significance than would normally be expected in a town of its size. Fonterra is the corporation responsible for New Zealand's dairy exports.
Thanks to Sue for permission to use this poem. I have had internet problems today and am posting late - so in lieu of the usual bio,here is Sue's website where you will find a bio and links to purchase all three of her books.
For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.