Indeed I can quite freely step inside
This city is strange to me. The streets
that rise and fall remind me
I was in love once —
but not with whom.
I do not have a phone number
or address but stop
and scan each letterbox
for a name — Jackson
rings a bell.
Inside the smell
of gas is overpowering —
if I find a family here to love
I’ll be finding a tomb.
But all I find are empty rooms.
Anna Jackson lives in Island Bay and teaches at Victoria University of Wellington. Her latest book is The Gas Leak (Auckland University Press, 2006).
Jackson comments: ‘This is the first of a sequence of sonnets called The Gas Leak about a gasfitter’s wife and an emptiness in her marriage. It is loosely connected to a sonnet sequence, Ballad of a Gas-fitter, by the Dutch poet Gerrit Achterberg, and it is, like his, a fictional sequence, but as the name Jackson in the poem suggests it has similarly loose connections with my own life as well. I wrote the poem soon after we had first moved to Wellington and when the streets were still strange to me but before we bought the house we now live in, funnily enough in Jackson street. This is the first house I have ever lived in with a gas connection, and there is a smell of gas just below the kitchen which never goes away.’