Fiona Farrell is a novelist and poet who lives on Banks Peninsula. The Pop-Up Book of Invasions, published by Auckland University Press (2007), is her third collection and was written while she was living in Donoughmore, Ireland as the recipient of the inaugural Rathcoola Residency in 2006.
Farrell comments: ‘I found “The Way of the Dishes” marked on a map when I was visiting the Burren in the winter of 2006. It referred to the miraculous arrival of an Easter feast which flew from a king’s table miles away to land beside a hermit saint, living with his servant in wild country. The legend is pretty much as recounted in the poem: the feast arrived, the saint picked, but the servant pigged out and died. I visited the site in heavy fog, picking my way over limestone flags through long grass and cow pasture. It felt very still and beautiful and eerie.
I wanted to write about that and about the feeling that all those legends of asceticism arouse in me. I don’t like excess:the new flash New Zealand of luxury this and that, thousands spent on a meal or light fittings or a bed for the night. But its opposite—that revulsion at the flesh that is at the root of so much religious theory and practice—repels me equally.’
Poem: The Way of the Dishes