To the trees of summer
If we could start the poem again,
in a waterlogged sky which refuses to rain
and say to the trees: Sorry.
We opened every can, every fruit.
You know how it goes.
Only say sorry if you mean it. Then worry
is the large fish flapping in the small bowl of our body
when we watch the hot wind parch the grass
and the small trees hang down
their desperate leaves.
Sorry. From your obdurate children.
Marty Smith was born in 1956 into a climate of wind and rain, and she finds Hawkes Bay summers foully over-heated. Her first book, Horse with hat (Victoria University Press, 2014), was a finalist in the poetry category of the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards, and won the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry. With the help of an arts grant from Creative New Zealand, she is (still) writing a non-fiction book about the working lives of people on the Hastings racecourse, to find out how come when racing gets in your blood, you can never leave.
Marty comments: ‘Drought in Hawkes Bay is vicious, the grass closing up and dying, and every weather forecast for blazing sun, the ground getting hard like concrete. And every forecast with little bars of rain raises us up, but the rain doesn’t make it. It blows away. We only get rain from the South-East, or from a tropical cyclone. When one of those is (supposedly) coming, when the forecast is for a big dump of 100mls plus, I study the isobars about every hour and then get savage when the cyclone peters out, gets downgraded, veers away at the last minute and dumps rain on the parts of the country that are already saturated and flooding. Summer of 2017 held out for months, offered rain-coloured skies that wouldn’t let down and the days started to seem like the apocalypse, as if we would never get rain again, and all the while the trees were browning and dying. As if we’d damned the weather forever.’