At Virginia Lake, on my way back from Womad

Overlooking the lake, with the swans made of icing

I wrote you a poem (now abandoned) in which you and I

have Michael Hulse over for afternoon tea

with Albert Einstein

You make New York-style cheese cake

and I bring out my best teacups – a favourite line

was about how everything tastes better

from fine china, as if it can somehow

remove all the bitterness from the world

I worked in a nod to the theory of relativity

with Albert turning up early

and then a small dig at Michael

who refuses to acknowledge our other guest

as if he simply cannot see him, or hear him

because he does not believe Albert could actually be there

But, despite the difficulties in communication

they still took over the poem, the way a man

might take over a conversation –

they just wouldn’t stop talking, though not to each other

and I, embarrassed by the social awkwardness

could only mutter smart-arse comments under my breath

And I found I wasn’t quite sure what you would say

though I’m sure you would, very thoughtfully

as you took it all in, tasted it, with a smile licking

at the edges of your mouth


Helen Rickerby


Happy birthday Paula! I’ve known your poetry, it’s joy, beauty and possibilities, for longer that I’ve known you, and this is an opportunity to show you how much we appreciate you, for your poetry, and your support of other poets, and New Zealand poetry as a whole, Wishing you all the very best, and much love and admiration.


2 comments on “At Virginia Lake, on my way back from Womad

  1. Dear Helen, What a marvellous poem – a funny poem, a thieving poem, a joyful poem. I loved all thelinks and disconnections and cheek. I grinned all the way through, and then when I hit the end note felt unbelievably moved. Thank you so much, and for this gorgeously designed birthday shelf. xxx


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