Monday, April 06, 2009

NaPoWriMo #6: Words from a Friend

Daylight saving has ended. It was wonderful to wake up in daylight this morning, with plenty of time spare to walk to work, instead of dragging myself reluctantly out of bed in the half dark. I had considered the prompt for the day when it appeared at Readwritepoem yesterday evening, and during my half hour walk to work, the poem formed itself in my head, and I was then able to jot it down at morning tea time. It will no doubt be subjected to later editing, but I think I am getting into the swing of things.

We were asked to gather fifty words from a friend. I asked Kay, which was taking the easy route I suspect, as I knew I was likely to get words I was comfortable with using from a fellow New Zealander of similar sensibilities. Of course, we didn't have to use all fifty - just to pick the ten or fifteen that were most resonant. When I saw "dentist" I remembered the bumble bee that was buzzing like a dentist's drill behind our bedroom curtain on Sunday morning, and I wanted to use it, so summer seemed to be the theme to run with.

The words I used from Kay were rain, mouldy, dentist, weather, apple, summer, red, and Dad. Three more transmuted into other words - "mountain" changed to "Orongorongos", "chicken" was replaced by "chook" and "China" made me think of Anne Tyler's book "Digging to China" (which turned out to be "Digging to America" when I did a google search for it) which transformed itself into Spain, which is on the opposite side of the world from New Zealand. I also encountered the word "ramshackle" in the introduction to a section of a poetry book I was reading last night, and it gave me such a tingle I had to include it as well.

If anyone needs a translation of any of the New Zealand words and phrases, ask nicely and you might just be lucky!

Digging for Spain

Did it ever rain? We don’t remember any
the weather always perfect.
Sun sparkle on water, the blue
of the distant Orongorongos
across the harbour, pohutukawa dripping red puddles,
the daily trek down the zigzag
with togs and towels, buckets and spades.
“If you dig far enough,
you’ll get to Spain” Dad said
but we knew about the earth’s fiery heart,
we weren’t stupid, not like the boy
down the road who took his sister
and his pocket money to buy a tram.

In the garden we threw mouldy windfalls
that piled up beneath the apple tree,
built ramshackle huts, climbed the pines
with basket and hammer to gather cones
for winter. Once, we watched when Dad took the axe
to the sick chook’s neck.

Flopped on the bed with books borrowed
from the library three at a time,
peeled sunburnt skin in strips, listened
to the fat bumble bee caught behind
the curtain, buzzing like the dentist.


Kay Cooke said...

Now look at that - you took some of the words and ran with them to make something fantastic. A few words plucked from the top of my head sewn into a bigger work, just like any talented patchworker.
I could see, feel and taste it all! A wonderful capture of a New Zealand childhood summer. (I especially like the strips of peeling skin ... a memory from our generation.)
I feel rather proud to have played a small part in the creation of such a lovely poem. :)

Jan said...

MY dad used to suggest we dug to Australia and NEW ZEALAND!
Lovely poem, Catherine.
Your writing is great, evocative, gentle.

leonie said...

that is a fabulous new zealand summer poem. nicely done!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous. Yet again.
Although I have to admit the linebreak of line 12 makes me worry ...