Experiments (Our Life Together)

here is my experiment with the dark

we run to the top of the street and crossing it
become aware of the fountain’s lip and mosaics
under water pink blue hyaline we step through
the foot bath yes the gold leaf is holding on

here is my experiment with stars

it is a dormitory on the top floor this two o’clock
the babies wrapped loosely in sheets asleep
and somehow not falling out of their little moulded beds
the blinds drawn down the afternoon heat

here is my experiment with humours

aqueous the home movie
tears on the lens and always the return
to rivers their flumes and fumaroles
so plural so carrying so carried away

here is my experiment with light

which leaves me now the dear shapes
gone to sound the end wrapped around
the beginning a piano in a dark room that is
quite what it is like and never the same

here is my experiment with river

memory and the wind ruffles her hair
there are no fences on the sun only a truck
bouncing on the flood its wheels gone and us inside
scared to death and still steering

here is my experiment with rain

we swim and let the current take us
where it will which is some toehold around
the corner under cliffs of black honeycomb
the saltwater pool afloat on its concrete rim

here is my experiment with amygdala

in the morning we find a bar and marmellata
as the sun comes up and the streets are cool
a slice of duomo at the end of each stony block
an orchestration a theatre of the mind

here is my experiment with immanence

who was waiting there who was asking me
to look at heaven from the end of a dark wharf
and when I did when I raised my empty eyes
the city was there a necklace of light a horizon

here is my experiment with periphery

who was asking me not to forget
rippling scales in another room a gallery
at the top of the stairs a cupola a vault
a canopy a river of light on the ceiling

Michele Leggott was the inaugural New Zealand Poet Laureate 2007–09 and received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry in 2013. Her collections include Heartland(2014) and Mirabile Dictu (2009), both from Auckland University Press. She coordinates the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (nzepc) with Brian Flaherty at the University of Auckland, and recently co-edited Alan Brunton’s selected poems, Beyond the Ohlala Mountains (Titus Books 2013), with Martin Edmond.

Leggott comments: ‘I took nine precious things (the dark, stars, humours, light, rain and so on) and made four-line stories for each of them. The experiment is about expanding the physical and temporal limits of seeing the world and its delicate matrices. 9 + 36 = 45, a number whose digits add up to 9. As does any multiple of that interesting number.’

Poem source details >



Video of Michele Leggott reading ‘experiments (our life together)’ at Kris Hemensley’s Collected Works Bookshop in Melbourne
Auckland University Press author page
New Zealand Book Council writer file
New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre writer file