follow me if you will

one a.m. in Quay St
a small black balloon
waits unaccompanied
on the footpath, taking
my heart for a minute

away from the language
of the evening
was it significant
his leaning towards me
and do I want it to be so?

no such doubt exists
for the balloon
things are working out
entirely as expected
it’s obvious

by the way it bobs
across the road
jauntily dodging cars
heading straight
for the ferry building

Diane Brown’s publications include two collections of poetry (Before The Divorce We Go To Disneyland, Tandem 1997 – winner of the NZSA Best First Book of Poetry 1997; Learning to Lie Together, Godwit 2004), two novels (If The Tongue Fits, Tandem 1999; Eight Stages of Grace, Random 2002 – a verse novel which was a finalist in the Montana Book Awards 2003), and a travel memoir (Liars and Lovers, Random 2004). She was a Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellow in 1997. She is currently writing a novel, Hooked, and a prose/poetic work, Here Comes Another Vital Moment, and is the co-ordinator and tutor for the Aoraki Polytechnic Advanced Fiction Writing Course. She was born in Auckland and moved to Dunedin in 2000 where she lives with the writer Philip Temple.

Brown comments: ‘I was living in Auckland and driving home from a dinner party at the writer Judith White’s house when I saw a black balloon waiting at the traffic lights. Philip Temple had also been at the dinner. We had met before and were attracted to each other but, living at opposite ends of the country, didn’t see how we could get together. I wrote the poem and with Judith’s encouragement sent it to Philip. He sent me back a nice card saying he loved the poem but it was still a long way, even in a following wind, from Anderson’s Bay in Dunedin to Murray’s Bay in Auckland. But it was the start of something.

‘Most of the poems in my collection, Learning to Lie Together, deal with the process of having a long distance relationship and then making the leap to a new city, leaving friends, and family behind.’

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