The Illuminated Page
The afternoon released last class freed
from the sentence of a sentence to dawdle out
along a shingle verge the heady scent
of gum trees in the gully changing pace
as magpies swoop down from their watchtower
to outrun time and enter space
– the unsupervised, unscripted primer –
dry grasses a dust-caked hum
the riddle of the creek-bed dragonflies and reeds
a wilding apple sharp upon my tongue.
Before home and the night descending
to rhyme my way across a wheat field floating
on the plains’ big sky inland gulls like envoys
their telegraphic cries that said not far to go . . .
not far to go became a day a moment
in a single hour words woke upon the page
sense with sense converged shapes
became a sound I made to suffer
the illumination gain set on the scales
with loss the world forever after in translation.
Rhian Gallagher’s first poetry collection Salt Water Creek (Enitharmon Press, 2003) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for First Collection. In 2008 she received the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award. Her second poetry collection Shift, (Auckland University Press 2011, Enitharmon Press, UK, 2012) won the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Award for Poetry. Rhian was the Robert Burns Fellow in 2018. Her most recent poetry collection, Far-Flung, was published by Auckland University Press in August 2020.