Michele Leggott

as the car flies

it’s no distance to the orchard
where Mrs D asks her son      how many left
and his voice from the darkness of the shed
maybe a couple of weeks      these were on the tree
yesterday      we take two bags and head back
to the city      leaving you to have a lie down
and rethread the silence that preceded
our visit      my friend you are a voice
against a dark red wall and we have covered
the important and unimportant things
that brought us to your door      last tomatoes
next book      a sunny room where white gloves
bring huge prints from their envelopes
we take letters to post and you give directions
to Dragicevichs’      sweet, crisp
there are no other words      the trip you will make
into the northern summer      and the return
you stand in sunlight beside the small car
no longer invisible      and when we say goodbye
I am holding an armful of peonies

forget about paper

these are my two in the city
one calls across an intersection
and away we go      wheeling his bike
to meet the other      who patrols
outside Invito in its perpetual war
with Mecca      the stick is picking up drifts
of leaves      papery fallen petals
and the sun is still warm on my back
one sits      one stands      eyes flicking
over the pavement as they compare
the lunch rush and arrange a drink
after work      one rides off into the traffic
I walk on and collect a lens
ever more incongruous
at the optometrists but they
play along      soon I’m crossing
another intersection and this time
a violin is talking to a crowd
of people who throw notes and coins
into an open case      hot jazz
afternoon sun and the singer
blind but not for one moment
in doubt      the way you look tonight
stealing up the sides of glass towers
or cutting the corner on a red light
they are my two      I don’t have
to worry and we can forget
about paper      except as tissue
memory drifting from trees
in the thumpety heart of the city

one hundred days

thick drifts of leaves      soft
percussion of counting apples
in a basket      the Oratia Kid tied on
his hankie and went to town      look
he said      two bellybuttons      this is where
they put the camera in      applause
from the table and indeed the street
the Yorkshireman with yogurt on a spoon
laughing fit to bust      the poet
who’s had visitors from Mexico City
perched in his spare room      what the hell
leaves fall thick and fast      HOPE
says the t-shirt      the floors of memory
proliferate and the cafe hums
something catchy under
its red bandana      almost one hundred
days and we are coming through
the valley with our apples
in golden drifts      along the road
sun pours into Alleluia’s lantern
one hundred days and every one
a poem for the Kid and his buttons
pressed up against the dark

Michele Leggott was the Inaugural New Zealand Poet Laureate 2008-09. Her most recent publications are Mirabile Dictu (Auckland UP, 2009) and a CD of selected poems, Michele Leggott / The Laureate Series (Braeburn/Jayrem 2009). She coordinates the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (nzepc) at the University of Auckland with Brian Flaherty.

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