Golden Weather (Cook Strait)

Nana died on Boxing Day
we left Makara in kayaks

we paddled all night, we paddled away
Dad steered to the Southern Cross

we lashed the dog to a boogie board
and ate cold cheerios with tomato sauce

Porpoises played as we packed our sad
at dawn we skimmed the swells

the yellow Lab sank beneath the waves
Farewell, wept Mum, farewell.

At high noon Nana was bronzed
we swallowed grief and sausage rolls

Not before time we left for home
we turned our backs on the day

goodbye, we cried, you golden sun!
goodbye, goodbye, you yellow dog!

Mary Cresswell is from Los Angeles. She came to Wellington in 1970. She is co-author (with Mary-Jane Duffy, Mary Macpherson, and Kerry Hines) of Millionaire’s Shortbread, illustrated by Brendan O’Brien and published by University of Otago Press in 2003. She has published poems in New Zealand, in Australia, Canada, the UK and the United States, and in online journals. She has always worked as a science editor. She also lives next to the sea: this particular closeness and the goofy vocabulary of research science both have had a major influence on her imagination and will doubtless continue to do so.

Cresswell comments: ‘The poem “Golden Weather (Cook Strait)” was first published by Richard Reeve and Nick Ascroft in Glottis magazine. It’s my downstream response to the cryptic priorities of 1970 New Zealand: worship of the outdoors, how to preserve aged relatives/family values, the mysterious hierarchy of ritual foods, the sacred dog … to the language: “packing a sad” “on the day”? … and above all, to the red-blooded Kiwi family, that noble and indissoluble unit, Doing the Right Thing On the Day even if it bloody well kills us – or leaves us up Cook Strait without a paddle.’

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