Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Evidence


We should have been kinder to spiders.
We should have checked for nests in the chimneys,
bees in the attic, wasps in the garden.
We should have planted dandelions.
They grow anyway. Better to believe
we wanted it that way.

We should never have built roosts for the chickens.

We should have listened to the canary
when it sang the song of the microwave
and the vacuum cleaner.
We should have sorted the dark days
from the light before washing,
to avoid the accumulation of lint.

We should never have alphabetised our grudges.

We built our quarrels on faultlines
We should have been better prepared
for truthquakes

Look, here comes a man
with a stick of chalk
Lie down so that he can outline our bodies
to be photographed
and used as evidence.

- Catherine Fitchett 2010

I made a quick trip to Wellington at the weekend for the launch of the New Zealand Poetry Society anthology Ice Diver. This is the result of their 2011 poetry competition and takes its title from Sue Wootton's wonderful winning poem. The poem above, Evidence, is my own contribution to the anthology, which I read at the launch.

New Zealand is a shaky country. Earthquakes are part of our vocabulary. So although this was written prior to the big Canterbury earthquakes of the last year or so, a phrase or two crept in. It's not an earthquake poem, it is a relationship poem. The trigger for the poem was actually the phrase "chalk outline". I heard it on a TV programme and suddenly felt all tingly, so I knew I had to try to use it in a poem somehow.

The launch was just an excuse to go to Wellington really as I had been meaning to go for some time. I have spent almost exactly half my life in Wellington - the first half - and the other half in Christchurch, and have relatives in Wellington still, so I feel as if I have two homes although I don't get up there nearly as much as I'd like. An added attraction now is the opportunity to meet up with other Tuesday Poets, which we did on Friday night. If you go to the main Tuesday Poem site and check the sidebar, you will be able to see what the rest of the Tuesday Poets are posting this week.


Mary McCallum said...

It was lovely to meet you Catherine! Glad your reading went well. I enjoyed this poem and the background behind it.

Kathleen Jones said...

Thanks Catherine - I enjoyed the poem very much. Isn't it strange where words and phrases take one?

Helen Lowe said...

Glad you had fun at the launch, Catherine.

Jennifer Compton said...

great stuff

Melissa Green said...

Fine poem, Catherine. It reminds me a bit of Blake.

Deb said...

Terrific poem, Catherine. I (very much) like the movement through it, the chalked bodies at the end.

Anonymous said...

A poem to return to many times, I really like the images you evoke.