A hank of her hair
When he found it
it was the blaze that shocked him
its red flare in the darkness,
its weight, like a body part
a ripe fruit.
He sniffed it, expecting
a feral stink
the scent of her
some kind of perfume
or perhaps all three.
Its mustiness recalled all the cupboards
of all the houses they have ever lived in
in several countries
and it inside them all along, wrapped and waiting
for this moment.
Poet, publisher, singer, sailor, gardener, Anne French is now living again in Wellington where she was born in 1956. Anne’s Boys’ Night Out was published in 1998 by Auckland University Press and was a finalist in the 1999 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Her first poems, All Cretans Are Liars(1987), won the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry and the PEN Award for First Book of Poetry in 1988. Her new collection, Wild, her sixth, was published by Auckland University Press in February 2004.
Anne is a trained teacher and has had a distinguished career in New Zealand publishing, but is now the Strategic Adviser, Policy, Strategy and Evaluation, at the Foundation for Research and Technology, where she spends her days thinking about such arcane things as science system performance.
She comments: ‘ “A hank of her hair” was the last poem in a short sequence about the end of a marriage. The protagonists (my friends) didn’t seem to mind the poems (though looking back now it seems a bit like taking liberties). Nonetheless, the death of a relationship, especially a long-standing one, always strikes me as a loss to the wider community, not just to the couple themselves. Somehow we are all diminished by it.’