Great Aunt

Home star, broken wheel,
bride not spoken for,

where stars abound
she is among them,

where the great aren’t
coming home

she will wait
the sun around,

she will stand
her ground.

Andrew Johnston has published three collections of poetry with Victoria University Press: How To Talk (1993), which won the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry and the NZSA Best First Book award; The Sounds (1996); and Birds of Europe (2000). A selected poems, The Open Window, was published for the UK market by Arc in 1999. Johnston now lives in Paris, where he works for the International Herald Tribune.

Johnston comments: ‘“Great Aunt” was discovered down a side-road from a long, obsessive poem called “Roundabout” (forthcoming in Landfall.) I was thinking about how a roundabout looks like a star from above – that’s the star part. How my great aunt came into it, I’m not quite sure. Actually there were two, on my father’s side, who lived together in a house with high ceilings, dark curtains and a cuckoo clock. There was a family story that they had both been engaged to men who didn’t come back from World War I. Their names were Noel and Bede, men’s names, and when I was a small child I heard them as one name, run together, Noelanbede, so perhaps that’s why in the poem they blur into one.’

Poem source details >



Andrew Johnston’s website
New Zealand Book Council writer file
Victoria University Press author page
Arc Publications
Turbine 2002
International Herald Tribune