Waitakere Rain

Ernest Hemingway found rain to be
made of knowledge, experience
wine oil salt vinegar quince
bed early mornings nights days the sea
men women dogs hill and rich valley
the appearance and disappearance of sense
or trains on curved and straight tracks, hence
love honour and dishonour, a scent of infinity.
In my city the rain you get
is made of massive kauri trees, the call of forest birds
howling dark oceans and mangroved creeks.
I taste constancy, memory and yet
there’s the watery departure of words
from the thunder-black sand at Te Henga Beach.

Paula Green lives in West Auckland with her partner, artist Michael Hight, and their two children. She is the author of three poetry collections published by Auckland University Press: Cookhouse (1997), Chrome (2000), and Crosswind (2004). In 2004 she completed her doctoral thesis in which she interleaved a poetic text with her academic text. Paula is the current Literary Fellow at the University of Auckland. In February 2005, she curated ‘Poetry on the Pavement’ as part of the Auckland City Council’s ‘Living Room’ project. As a follow-up to the sequence in Crosswind that represents a conversation between visual artists and her poetry, Paula has devised a new collaboration with ten contemporary New Zealand artists. ‘The North Western Line’ will be exhibited at the Corban Estate Art Centre in September 2005 to coincide with the Going West Literary Festival.

Paula comments: ‘I once read a long list of associations that Ernest Hemmingway made with rain that haunted me long after I had shut the book. A big fan of rain myself, I am quite happy to venture outside in the wet to walk in the bush, watch my girls ride horses, scramble over rocks, and ramble along the wild beach that is our closest beach.

‘Placed on the first page, “Waitakere Rain” is a gateway into Crosswind, for in writing these poems I settled upon whatever had crossed my path and haunted me. I wrote this poem because as much as I love writing poetry, I love reading the poems of others. I love the way we can write our poetry on the sand (or the pavement, or the blank page) and upon each return find that it feels a little different. Above all, I love the notion that the world is plump with unwritten rain poems.

‘I am also interested in the myriad crossings that make up our lives; the unexpected connections between places, people, memory, art, music. Sometimes, I test out my “crossings” in traditional poetic forms. In this poem, I crossed between my attachment to rain and that of somebody else, between my poetry and his prose in a sonnet that has a hint of Petrarch, in rhyme more than meter.’

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