Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Poem: "Playing with Thomas in Hagley Park"

We are immigrants in our own country,
lifestyle refugees
frolicking in this crisp, alpine weather.
Although you’re dressed like a miniature Inuit,
no amount of padding
can hide your delight
at play in the fields of the CCC.

Thomas, you connect me to the moment,
to the real,
with your joy so palpable
that it surrounds us like an aura.
Through your eyes I discover the world anew:
how the oak bark feels with its pattern
of vertical runnels, God’s reticulation;
how leaf mounds half-dried by a pale sun
unglue and fly
when prompted by tiny basketball shoes;
how daffodils spring like magic
from the thawed turf
to be sniffed in mimicry of the kitten
in your boardbook.

As twilight approaches,
I scoop you up in mid-adventure.
You protest loudly as I wheel you slowly away from
this place of life and breath and freedom
to merge into the slipstream of choking commuters.

When you live in a city that has been bent and broken and battered and bruised by a series of earthquakes, I guess it is inevitable that nostalgia creeps in and we remember wistfully how our city was in a kinder, gentler time. My wife and I moved down to Christchurch from Wellington in July 2000 when our oldest son, Thomas, was 15 months old. We were able to fulfill two dreams we could not afford in Wellington: to buy an affordable house with some land and to live near the sea. As it says in the poem, I considered us "lifestyle refugees", but that seemed a positive thing. Now, sadly, many people are fleeing Christchurch and that doesn't seem so positive. I truly hope that Christchurch can arise as a stronger, more cohesive, more socially equitable and, if possible, more beautiful city.


  1. What a wonderful moving poem, the last stanza most of all. Thank you for posting,

  2. I like the little Inuit and 'God's reticulation' and the sense of cold and joy and energy in that park, then.

  3. This is a really beautiful poem - like Mary I particularly liked the Inuit image. it has a lovely elegiac feel.

  4. Thank you all for your kind observations. It's lovely to post and have your fellow poets interact with the work. Dare I say it, it's even life-affirming in the situation we find ourselves in at present.

    Right now, it's easy to feel a bit cut off from the world of art and literature down here in Christchurch.