The Weight of Calves
after Mandy Coe
A calf estimated to weigh
thirty million tonnes
split from the Tasman Glacier.
If this was its weight,
imagine if you can, its size, ice
more voluminous than water.
And imagine its age:
I’m told the residence time
of glacier water may tip
one million years. All
those old molecules, trapped
for aeons, waiting release
into Brownian motion.
The world’s reservoirs
leaking. Greened plains lapped
by cattle. The weight.
The birth of a calf is assisted
by gravity. Maternal groans
as the glacier labours through rock
and the calf drops,
torn from terminal ice. An echoing crash.
A wave. Turquoise light. Hard
shards slice water. The calf
part-submerged, melting. Freshwater
mingles with saline.
Calving into water causes a splash;
into oceans, raises the level. Collapse
the ice sheets and tides will lift
six metres perhaps. Think of that.
Cows and calves
where they never should be.
Karen Zelas lives in Christchurch. A former psychiatrist and psychotherapist, she returned to university, taking creative writing papers at Canterbury University in preparation for giving up her day job. Since 2004, her poetry has been increasingly widely published within New Zealand, including in Landfall, Poetry New Zealand and Takahē, and broadcast on radio. It has also appeared in Australian ezines Snorkel and Eclecticism and recently been blogged by Interlitq (UK). Several anthologies contain her work. In 2009 she was the recipient of a Creative Communities grant. She is editor of the anthology Crest to Crest: Impressions of Canterbury, prose and poetry (Wily Publications, 2009).
Karen’s first novel Past Perfect was published by Wily Publications in 2010, and is to be released as an ebook by Interactive Publications this year.
For the last five years, Karen has been Fiction Editor of Takahē literary magazine and chairs the Takahe Collective Board. She is married with children, grandchildren and a child-substitute: a miniature poodle.
Karen's book, Night's Glass Table, was the winner of the 2012 IP Picks Best First Book Competition run by IP (Interactive Publications), Brisbane. It is to be launched in conjunction with the Christchurch Writers' Festival at 4.30 - 6pm on Thursday 30 August, as part of an extensive reading tour through NZ. Books can be purchased online, including e-publications, via the IP website (click on "Store"), or directly at the Night's Glass Table mini-site.