Bernadette Hall

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for Geoff Cochrane

Dear Geoff, I’m sorry I gave you
the wrong instructions.
Sometimes I just get like that
all flustered, crazy Jane,
can’t tell my arse from my elbow.
Go down Hereford as in the cow
Street, is that what I said?
On to the corner with Colombo,
then left into the Boulevard Saint Michel.
Cross the road on the diagonal,
that’s Hradebni.
Then toddle past the Castello di Diavolo,
where most of the poets hang out
(you don’t have to go in if you don’t want to).
Whatever, I was wrong.
I’m sorry it took you three hours
to get to the reading.
Do you remember that time
when we were all sitting in Fidels
in Cuba Street, out the back
inside the hessian tent with the smokers
(it was the middle of winter).
There was Gerry Melling and Lindsay
Rabbitt and you and me.
I was getting my weekly fix of nicotine.
The talk rang high and wild,
you drank a small bottle of Coke
but you wouldn’t eat anything
and after a while you started whining
like a puppy,
‘my feet are fuckin’ freezing’
and we all looked down
and there were these huge hairy holes
in your old sneakers.
‘What the hell are you wearing?’
I dragged the edge
of your left trouser leg up and
there was the strip of a blue nylon sock.
‘For god’s sake,
haven’t you got any other shoes?’
‘I saw some I quite liked in the Farmers.’
‘And did you buy them?’
‘Does brown go with black and white?’
‘They were brown and white and black
and I didn’t know if the colours matched.’
I’ll go with you to the Farmers,
and we’ll buy the bloody shoes
and I’ll buy you a pair of merino socks too
as long as you promise to wear them.’
That’s how it goes some days,
don’t you reckon.
You wander the streets of a city
that’s no longer your own.
You look at a map
and all the words are in German.
You ask a stranger
where the hills have gone
and he bursts out laughing.
You know I’m always happy
to meet you on the flooded steps
n gr8 2 gt yr txt:
‘loved LOVED Christchurch’

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