Tuesday Poem – The Desert Road – Lynn Davidson

Mount Ruapehu breaches clouds –
a whale arrested in a dive
fluke still planted in the earth.

Driving back through tussock
barnacles of shining white
and the high ice-creaking calls locate us.

Wet banks move, striated, through slow day-lights
shunt time, whole eras, ahead and behind
carry small architecture on great backs.

We cut across this old wake, our father,
the suspension shakes and shakes
we can’t make the corners fast.

It gets dark and the languages come out
in constellations and even though we don’t know how
we follow them to familiar places.


Author’s Comment: The Desert Road will be part of a new collection of poetry with the corny working title of ‘The Old Shining Road’. I love the Central Plateau in the North Island and have written about it quite a bit, including in my new novella called The Desert Road published by Rosa Mira Books earlier this year!  The landscape, the history and the mythology of the Central Plateau grabbed my heart and my imagination many years ago and has never let go. For some reason it transforms into a whale in this poem – perhaps it is that sense of the land being vast and graceful and somehow on the move. The Desert Road was published in the UK in PN Review a year or so back and just last week I read it at an end of semester poetry reading with my students at Melbourne University. So there you are, The Desert Road is on the move.’


poet Lynn Davidson
poet Lynn Davidson

Bio: Lynn Davidson has written four collections of poetry, the latest, Common Land, published in 2012 by Victoria University Press combines poetry and essays. A novella, The Desert Road was published this year by Rosa Mira Books.  In September 2013 Lynn was writing fellow at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland.


For more on Lynn and her books go to Rosa Mira books here.

Visit Lynn’s website here.

Lynn says she agrees with Eudora Welty that ‘Whatever our theme in writing, it is old and tired. Whatever our place, it has been visited by the stranger, it will never be new again. It is only the vision that can be new; but that is enough.’


Hawthornden Castle captured my imagination, so I asked Lynn for a description and photo. What an amazing place and what a lovely description she gives.

 ‘Let the poets and writers drool!’

Hawthornden Castle
Hawthornden Castle


Lynn’s Description of Hawthornden Castle. 

In 2013 I was resident (for a short, heady time a fellow) at Hawthornden Castle just outside Edinburgh along with five other writers from England, Poland and the USA.  During my month there I wrote poems and walked and talked with the other writers and drank sherry – lots of sherry – which I’d never done before and haven’t done since! It’s a proper castle with a beautiful forest around it with deer and badgers and all sorts of storybook creatures. One day we were taken to explore the Pictish caves which we got to via a hobbity door at the foot of the castle. The heavy wooden door was opened with a large old key and we all bowed down a little to enter caves that are like large burrows, rounded at their edges. At one point one of the rooms opens onto the side of a very deep well. In another room carved into its walls was what looked like an extensive wine rack, but was a dove cote! I’m still processing all the riches of living in a castle with long quiet days of writing and walking and lively sherry-fueled evenings with writers from all around the world. 

 For readers from other countries, if you want to learn more about New Zealand’s Desert Road, and its ability to inspire see here.

 The Desert Road is published with permission. And now please return to Tuesday Poem.  Check out the sidebar for new and stimulating posts from  Tuesday Poem bloggers around the globe. And do read the hub page where Andrew Bell, this week’s editor, shares a poem by Emma Neale.














2 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem – The Desert Road – Lynn Davidson”

  1. Thanks for this little taste of a poet exploring Desert Road. It brought back rich visions of the place itself. Maybe because I too, have always felt the echoes of the sea, and now I will forever see the whale fluke 🙂

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