Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Digging Kumara, by David Taylor

Digging Kumara

When the morning is wet without rain
bright without sharpness
warm on the skin but cold in the nose
it is time to dig the kuara.

The hole is deep enough when my hands
sift the powdered basalt through my fingers
and feel no trace of the tuatua and pipi you ate here,
crouching beside the fire, deciding where to sleep tonight.

No trace of marbles waiting
for you to shut one eye and take your best shot,
running through the grass to see where they landed
whether you can claim the cat's eyes as your own.

No trace of the clothes pegs you popped
on the ground so you could straighten the sheet
that was pulling in the westerly,
that you wanted to put back on the bed tonight.

No trace of the crooked nails that fell
to the ground when you replaced the rotting palings to
keep out the neighbour's sly dog on one side,
the sly neighbour's dog on the other.

No trace of the small soldiers
with the impeccable discipline
that you used to explain why there had been lots of uncles
and so few cousins.

No trace of the shopping bags
that were drying in the sun
because they weren't rubbish,
could be used again for carrying, say, silver beet.

No trace of brown shards
from the swappa crate you opened up
to relax after a busy day,
then the hole is deep enough.

when you have eaten, played, taken in the washing,
mended the fences, taught history to the children,
washed up, put your glass down, lain your body down,

I will pile the kumara in the old cane washing basket
and put it in the shed for winter.


David Taylor is from Christchurch (Otautahi) and went to Canterbury University. He is currently studying Educational Leadership at Auckland University part time. He says "I run, tramp, fish, learn te reo Maori and keep chickens. I am a Woolf Fisher fellow for 2012.The inspiration was working in my garden – harvesting the kumara – and realising that I was also engaged in some urban archaeology. It was a demonstration of just how we can be connected to other people through the land."

Digging Kumara appeared in Catalyst Volume 9, published in February this year after a rather long wait due to the Canterbury earthquakes. Catalyst is a Christchurch-based poetry journal. As a local production, it tends to publish mostly local poets, the best of which are very good. The production quality is always excellent - this volume has commissioned artwork from NZ born/USA based artist Matt Couper. It also comes with a CD on which can be found the poems read by their authors, set to background music clips. I haven't had time to listen yet, but am looking forward to it especially since some of the poets included are known to me as excellent spoken word performers.

If you'd like to purchase a copy you can hop on over to the Catalyst blog and look for the e-mail link in the sidebar.

For more Tuesday poems visit the main hub site.


Emma said...

This poem is fantastic and I love the set-to-music version of it even more I think. David's voice is very compelling!

Kathleen Jones said...

Lovely poem Catherine. I found myself digging with the poet.

leonie said...

I hadn't heard of this guy before.

Love this poem. It feels like a gentle memory of someone... Remembered at harvest time.