The Thing

I need to find the thing I am good at.
I have something wonderful inside,
waiting to be said. It has not been easy. 
Spanish guitar, cake design, lyrics for lullabies.
I really shine at nothing. 
It needs to come smoother than this –
the way water flowing through wood
would feel, if you put a hand to it.

I saw the cover of Gillian Welch’s latest album
in the Sunday paper. Immediately I knew
this was the kind of beauty I would aim for.
Something that makes normal people
feel worse about their lives.

Louise Wallace’s debut poetry collection Since June was released in December 2009 by Victoria University Press. Her poetry has also been previously published in literary journals including MeanjinSport, and Turbine. Louise now lives in Nelson and is working on her second collection.

Wallace comments: ‘Poets deal in lies and truths. I have never tried my hand at Spanish guitar, cake design, or lyrics for lullabies, but I know I am not alone in the wish to accurately express my ideas and feelings, and perhaps also in the frustrations and disappointments that go along with this.

‘I don’t really know anything about Gillian Welch or her music, but I did see the cover for The Harrow & The Harvest in a Sunday newspaper. Even the album’s title makes me jealous! There is a (dark?) desire to create something devastating of my own. I think this desire would be true for many other people too, even if they would never admit it. It’s something I like to keep trying at, because it’s such an enjoyable challenge.’

Poem source details >



‘The Poi Girls’ in Best New Zealand Poems 2009
‘The Dogs’ in Turbine 2006
‘The Thing’ in Turbine 2011
‘Flux’ in Snorkel #9
Since June at Victoria University Press
New Zealand Book Council author page