An envelope fluttered into my mailbox yesterday.
When I was a kid, getting post was one of the most exciting things ever. That sense of wonder and anticipation fizzing when you saw your own name on the front of the envelope. Inside was always something worth the fizz – if it wasn’t birthday or Christmas gifts, it would be a party invitation, or a letter from my Nanna, or a notice from the local bookshop that the Laura Ingalls Wilder book I’d ordered a few weeks ago had arrived in store.
As an adult, of course, it’s far less exciting. Adults get those brown envelopes with windows, that never usually involve money siphoning out of their bank accounts.
But yesterday’s envelope was white. My name and address were hand-written. It had a proper stamp, not a printed frank. All reliable signs that the contents would be more akin to those letters of childhood.
Sure enough, the contents didn’t disappoint.
A couple of months back, I submitted a poem to a fine line, for the Spring issue, Masks, and it was accepted. a fine line, the New Zealand Poetry Society’s quarterly magazine, make a small payment of $20 book tokens to the poets they publish. And here was mine!
I still haven’t spent the one I got from my poem Crop Circles that was published in the Autumn issue. I’m looking forward to a trip to PaperPlus tomorrow, to browse the book section. Not sure what I’ll get yet. I’ve got the whole set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books now, all of them well-thumbed from many repeat readings over the years. But there are a couple of Linda Olsson books I haven’t read yet, and… and… and…
I need to go browse the PaperPlus catalogue.
So I’ll leave you with poems – the poem I wrote for the masks theme, plus a bonus. The other week I wrote about National Poetry Day, and mentioned the event I was going to in the evening. Turns out my poem, in response to the set theme of ‘together’, came in second place. Hope you enjoy them both.
Stilettos and Lipstick
When I go to my sister’s wedding
I will dress myself in my best behaviour.
I will wrap up in a twin cling of primrose silk
and prim smiles, veil myself inside my skin.
I will take a wide-brimmed hat,
black, to shade my eyes. Pale yellow flowers
will flourish in the brim. I will glove my hands
and my tongue in pristine white.
I will stand straight in my polished black heels.
Even when she preens with gold and diamonds
and the husband she stole from me,
I will wear my shining lipsticked smile.
Sheathed in a padded vest beneath my dress,
I won’t fall on stiletto barbs she shawls
in a simper of all’s fair in love…
I will drink one flute of champagne.
In slow, occasional sips, to stop the bubbles
getting up my nose.
I will smile.
And when I get home,
I will shed my smile. I will strip to my skin
and step under hot rain in my shower,
to scrub away the sheen
Baking with Nanna
I perch on a high stool in Nanna’s ribbon kitchen,
my red throne in her empire. She measures in palms
and carefree glances. Sugar and flour dunes rise
in a Pyrex ocean. Butter pebbles scattered on top stick
to fingertips like wet sand. There is no elbow room.
We rub shoulders crumbling ingredients together
and she whispers a secret – she never uses that jug
my mother bought her, with its red ladder of metric.
Nanna’s jug is blue, polished stoneware, milk etched
in white script. She fills it to a pint, and lets me pour.