house of questions

30Nov09

This will be piecemeal. Or maybe I just mean it won’t hang together well.

Or, I am going through the few unrelated shots I have on my phone from the weekend, before I relegate them to the recycle bin.

Why is it Hawkes Bay always looks something like this, in photos? Glorious and blue and green. Or glorious and blue and brown towards the end of summer. Say you take photos of people, with a vinyard and some flawless sky in behind. And the backdrop usurps the foreground. The people become just some punters in straw hats, posing.

I like the blurriness of photos taken from moving vehicles.

What I was going to say was this. Tonight I was killing time and flipping through books, unable to settle on just one.

I bought a second hand copy of Margaret Atwood’s Interlunar the other day from Quilters and today I found one of my favourite old poems.

I had it written out in an old diary, from school, but I couldn’t find it before, when I looked for it. It was one of those old poems I came to know nearly by heart. The kind whose lines pop into your head a decade later, due to some subliminal match with the emotion at hand. Back then it was synonymous with teenage angst and boarding school.

For now, it has taken on a whole new meaning, no less meaningful. As immediate as ever. Poetry can be kinda versatile like that.

This is a good poem for now. It is a good poem, full stop.

LETTER FROM THE HOUSE OF QUESTIONS

Everything about me is broken.
Even my fingers, forming
these words in the dust
a bootprint will wipe out by morning,
even these words. Even, almost,
my will to do anything.
I would spend the rest of my life
in a house corner, in the sun.
If there were a house. If there were sun.
 
Those who imagine our bodies
for their own pleasure, in their beds
that smell of mouthwash and lotion
have never been here or anywhere like it.
We stink. Our clothes and breath
and the pissed floor and air
and the wounds they picture as the stigmata
of desire, which are just holes
dug in the flesh and filthy
with neglect. Blunt and vicious,
nothing to do with the arabesques
of civilized lust they invest.

Lady, I saw you once
in a photograph in a magazine
before I was brought here.
You were in a kitchen, with children
seated at a table. You stood,
serving red and yellow and green food
and holding up a bottle.
Everyone smiled. I have forgotten
what you were supposed to be
selling, but I remember you,
with your white teeth shining in the room
which was so clean and beautiful.
I lie on the floor and hold on to you
as if you were here. As if you were
a picture of myself
when I still existed.
Look down on me. Explain to me
why this is happening. Send food.
The saints having failed me,
you are the one I pray to.

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