Margo, or Margaux

I’d drink all night but stop at one glass 
of syrah, aromas of pepper, tar, 
black plum, and on the tongue 
blueberry, liquorice, dark
chocolate, oh it is a dark wine
for us to drink before entering 
the night in my cream and silver 
car and driving, reeling
not from the wine but from
the gypsy pirate Mexican music
on the CD (with an after-note, you
suggest, of Ukrainian folk), under
your canopy of silver stars.
Don’t tell me their names, tracing 
out constellations like 
a dot-to-dot puzzle. Let me 
see the sky in the sky, as magisterially 
as the sea can be seen in the sea 
and the man in the man – speaking 
of which let’s not meet your mother 
with her photos of you as a boy. 
Let’s just keep driving to 
somewhere we haven’t looked up 
on a map, some town without 
any relatives to pin your features 
down to theirs, where you can do 
that silent thing you do at parties 
in a party we’ll throw 
just for us two. 
This cross made up of freckles
under my ribs (two brown, one
red and slightly raised, one beige)
might look like the Southern Cross
still flying like a kite in the chaos
I’ve relearned to see in the sky,
but come closer, inhale, 
tell me my after-notes
and under-tones, 
and whether you think 
I should call my car Margo or
Margaux, I can’t decide.

Anna Jackson has published five collections with Auckland University Press, most recently Thicket, which includes ‘Margo, or Margaux’. Anna lives in Island Bay, Wellington, and teaches in the English department at Victoria University.

Jackson comments: ‘I care a lot about punctuation, spelling and fonts but things in the real world don't come much into focus for me so I find fine distinctions about wine, for instance, rather funny. This is mostly what the poem is about, this and the headiness of romance. I particularly liked what Helen Rickerby wrote about the poem when she chose it for a Tuesday Poem blog-post: “It becomes, almost surprisingly, a love poem, but then twists out of that sensuous seriousness, the way someone might awkwardly twist out of an embrace, to talk about what she should name her car.”

‘The poem is not really autobiographical, but I still haven't decided whether to call my own car Margo, or Margaux – I find Margaux a peculiarly pleasing spelling for the name of a car but Margo has the word go in it which seems encouraging for a car. What I didn't know when I wrote the poem was that Margaux Hemingway changed her name to Margaux from… Margot! And the reason was that she learned she had been named after the wine Château Margaux and wanted the spelling to match.’

Poem source details >



Poetry Archive author page
New Zealand Book Council author page
New Zealand Electronic Text Centre author page
Victoria University of Wellington staff member page