Tuesday Poem – Thinking of Wallace Stevens and Mountain Men by Deirdre Thorsen Lavery

‘the dead hunch over us’
Marie observes  Carol
writes another poem
about loss

I look to your rocks
collected from that hill
you left long ago

shifting to Westport
fossicking for gold
you seemed disconnected
drank in the pub
died at home
undetected for days

your Takaka stone-
arranged on my front porch
crystalline chunks
smaller slivers piling
the lounge window sill
white marble/dolomite
the life stuff of Wallace
Stevens’ poem

‘the rock is the gray particular of man’s life’

when I selected pieces
from your quarry
you couldn’t articulate
these mysteries
understood  looked
up to say  keas
were calling

‘the rock is the habitation of the whole …
the starting point of the human and the end’ *

the American poet
encapsulates your
silent cognisance –
from stalactite recesses
of Harwood’s Hole
to hovering shadows
of feathered flight

* Wallace Stevens ‘The Rock ’ 5 ‘Forms of the Rock’

 

* Wallace Stevens ‘The Rock’ 5 ‘Forms of the Rock’

 Takaka Hill, showing marble outcrops. Photograph taken ca 1900s by Louis John Daroux.(http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=67467).

Takaka Hill, showing marble outcrops. Photograph taken ca 1900s by Louis John Daroux.(http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=67467).

AUTHOR’S COMMENT:

Deirdre says  ‘I lived in Nelson in 1990 and took my horse up the Takaka Hill, riding with Jim Hickey (Ed’s note, Jim is the subject of the poem) Jim also had the marble mine at 2,500 feet. He was a hill-billy eccentric who sadly years later died broke and alone in Westport. My connections with Takaka also come from my great friend, the late Leo Bensemann who painted the area and edited Landfall. It is a special place to me.’

Helen’s Comment:

Last time we talked Deirdre said It’s thedualities and ambiguities, the light and dark of things which inspire my writingand one can see that in the above poem. The contrast between the man of words and the man who works with his hands…the light and dark of the rocks in Deirdre’s collection…and the stalactite recesses of Harwood’s Hole. And I must tell you that riding a horse over the Takaka Hill is no mean feat. Thank you for being my guest this week Deirdre.

 

Deidre Thorsen-Lavery

Deidre Thorsen-Lavery

BIO IN BRIEF: Deirdre Thorsen-Lavery lives in rural Hawkes Bay where she paints, writes and looks after horses and donkeys. Horses, art and poetry have always been part of her life. Her grandfather bred horses and her father rode in the cavalry at the beginning of WWII. He recited John Masefield ballads and famous vaudeville poems filling her early life with words.
A painter and art teacher for many years, Deirdre first performed her poetry at the Listener Women’s Book Festival in Whanganui in 1991. She has regularly participated in Hasting Live Poets’ meetings since their inception in 1992.  Her poems have been published in Poetry NZ, Landfall and Takahe. Go here to read her poem Scythe, which was second in the 2013 Takahe Poetry Competition.

 

And if you haven’t been there already you can return to the Tuesday Poem Hub, where this week’s editor is Jennifer Compton with Vincent O’Sullivan who has just completed his term as New Zealand’s Poet Laureate.

 

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