This is no swallow, no butterfly.
Feathered with Concorde power
Titanic bulk, breathlessly aerobic
Gabriel dives in under the lintel,
wings swept back behind Olympic shoulders
he tilts like a display pilot
and just clears the entrance.
Mary pulls up under the impact
cherubs sail on the draught
like a herd of sky-diving babies. Outside
Joseph grapples with a bit
of four by two, oblivious to the super-human
frequency. The earth's in a bad way.
As to Gabriel
you can see he's not going to help
pick up the pieces, he's not even going to land,
message delivered on a rush of air,
no buttering up of Mary,
his beautiful arms poised towards heaven
before he back-flips out of there.
- Rhian Gallagher
Rhian Gallagher recently won the New Zealand Post Book Awards poetry category for her second collection of poems, Shift. This is her first with a New Zealand publisher - her earlier collection, Salt Water Creek (where The Annunciation appeared) was published by Enitharmon Press in the UK, where she lived for eighteen years.
While there are many fine poems in "Shift", it is often the first poem that I read by a new author that most impresses itself on my memory, and that is the case here. I read The Annunciation when it appeared on the Poetry Daily website, and it led me to seek out more of Rhian's poetry, which I enjoy immensely.
Rhian suggested that it might be hard to find a copy of Salt Water Creek now, but I did find it listed on both the Fishpond and Amazon websites. Shift is much more readily available, and both books are well worth reading.
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