If you cannot sing the world
if the tune is too complex
and the reach too vast
perhaps a poem walking
from door to gate is for you
a small parcel of contents
you can tick: nandina, potato vine,
weeds, letter box and constant cars.
Not an extensive list.
Bring in the blue and white of overhead
and a red helicopter. Now you have it,
your world written down, wrapped up.
But walk further
to the living street of springs
a pavement of design beside bush and flax
to the park and pond
where voices are heard, boys are playing.
they hope for fish.
You have pushed out the perimeter.
You have walked into the smallest part
of the larger sound, the Big Band.
You imagine playing the music of oceans
of river runs, mega-city percussion.
Your poem has come out
from behind the fence.
- Helen Jacobs
We have had a wealth of poetry events in Christchurch lately, among them the launch of Helen Jacobs' new book, "Dried Figs", published by Sudden Valley Press. This is Helen's sixth poetry collection and as it says on the back of the cover, as she is now in her eighty-fourth year another book cannot be guaranteed.
Helen is an acute observer of her immediate surroundings. As the poems in this collection vividly express, one's horizons perhaps narrow somewhat with increasing age - but she makes a good deal out of such every day subject matter. I felt the poem above expresses this rather beautifully.
The poem was first published in the New Zealand Poetry Society collection "Across the Fingerboards" in 2010. Photos of the book launch and information on how to order Dried Figs can be found on Helen's website.
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