Returning to Green Country

to open palms, to peak-volcanic views

          (at night the stars and lights their call-response, call-response)

                    and dozing Maungawhau.

To leaf-cover, grass-cover, and then,

          to streets all pavement-lined, and forged.

                    The shock of smoothness, and new time,

the rhythmical traffic, the heritage bus-stop

          restored and painted over. New notation:

                    Lovelock Ave – community centre – the village,

gigantic workings of movement, enacted landing sites

          harakeke, karakia

                    (and the left behind photograph

                              of still life, in that other place).

But hold. I held a Thumbprint.

          A balance, in the white-hot kitchen there,

                    brown shutters closed against the waves

but open to Simone who wrote about her mother

          and yet could also mow a lawn

                    tender conversation: I want to tell her

the world is on the blink. Or that the kinks in the coils

          are like telephone cords tangling, internet links

                    intersecting, lemon rinds, electricity.

And that the letter ξ stands for 60,

          sexigesimal time and angles by degrees, an index

                    to the chapter headings, an axial tilt, and lux –

the lux of births, synapse, sight. Cool light

          on the reserves. Oh it all comes back to story

                    (it all comes back), to a walk by flax,

                              a sprint by sprinklers,

and to thanks –

          for the air-side, the bright-side, the sharp-side

                    of fishing-line poetry

of clothes-drying-on-a-line poetry

          of slim-string and filament leading to the opening poetry

                    and to lexicon – or all a poet can do

is keep warm and on the move. Or put

          another way: pr`asino, green, from pr`aso, leek,

                    historic antidote to nose-bleeds

but let’s say heart-bleeds, lost prayer-beads,

          (sickbeds/griefbeds). So You say:

exit that, exit all that; walk down Bellevue road towards the pool,

               picnic with Stein on a blanket, on a slope,

                         the world is in razor focus. And so

at home I check that verde really is related

               to verdiggiante and verderame,

                         to that verdant verdigris-renaissance-green,

                                   and che meraviglia it is.


Vana Manasiadis

Dear Paula,

Simone de Beauvoir said famously, ‘when she does not find love, she may find poetry’. Helen sent me your beautiful book, The Baker’s Thumbprint, after I had lost my mother; and I was reading de Beauvoir when your book arrived. Your poems became part of the symphony of that falling and swirling time, and added – if I might brutishly extend the metaphor – the gentler adagios, the slowly, go slowly. Thanks Paula, with all my heart, for that comfort and transport, and helping with the way back. And very happy birthday.


One comment on “Returning to Green Country

  1. I have waited all this time after getting my birthday link to read this poem Vana and i am so very moved by it. By the way my book has folded into the creases of living and your reading and writing and become this poem. What a lyrical sweetness as the lines shuffle to and fro across the page and internally. I love the uncanny overlap with Simone and the way that happens. I just adore it. Your poem is full of little ‘wonders’ to go back to that Italian word and I was moved to read it. Thank you.


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