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Jacket 16 — March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   | to New Zealand Contents list     

New Zealand feature

Michele Leggott:
milk and honey taken far far away (i)

if I had a bow I would draw
fine hairs and the notes of a gamelan
over water at full moon
I would draw the sound of hair
falling on bare shoulders
how it remembers that touch
how it laughs in the darkness
and cannot leave you alone
how I leave the ground
a little kick of silk in the wind
or between your teeth
and rubbing tongue    gamelan perfect
floating to the moon curving to the breast
where you will sleep tonight

you are papaya you are melon
guava in my teeth you are perfect
your gift of happiness I bring out
of the saddle-bags packed long ago
and spread around us now in the dark
in confusion they say you’ll never
get to heaven if you break my heart
but we aren’t on the same planet
we don’t breathe the same air
we are camped out on the beach
of viable alternatives listening
to water and sucking stones
we are waiting for first light
to resume our lives together

brown sugar beach on my knees
I light a fire as the sun comes up
heavy candelabra blazes
of the goddess daughters overhead
in their jet they look down on us
that must be the Caspian Sea they say
their con-trail is our morning prayer
I build the fire and offer you tea
and hot plums in a black pot
fragrance of almonds and smoke
at the beginning of summer
in a convoy like all the others
voyaging soldier sailor my knees
come down in sand like adoring sugar

Photo of Michele Leggott

Michele Leggott has published four books of poetry, the latest As far as I can see (Auckland UP, 1999; reviewed by Philip Mead in this issue of Jacket). Co-editor of Big Smoke (Auckland UP, 2000) with Alan Brunton and Murray Edmond, editor of Robin Hyde’s book-length poem The Book of Nadath (Auckland UP, 1999). A major project in 2001 was the development of the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (nzepc) at the University of Auckland. You can read five poems by Michele in Jacket 3.
See also

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