Emma Neale

Sunny Disposition

Her name rhymes with serene
and she talks about the weather
every time you meet: as if it’s personal,
as if the days are her children, or yours,
and there are good grounds to be concerned
after all the care, all the trouble you’ve taken
and now this:
ailing, pale skies
that drag themselves around
like teenagers who won’t eat
nor speak civilly,
who sleep at all the wrong times
then glower and slump,
locked in the bleak mirror-chambers
of their own cloudy heads...
but wouldn’t you know it:
just when you thought
you’d be lumbered
with surly and sullen ‘whatever’ forever,
here comes a whole tribe of days
that pull you up short
with their casual artfulness,
everything at which they suddenly excel:
bare-chested men peacocking at cricket;
women in frocks the wind could lick off quick as foam;
kids who monkey from bikes to play-gym;
or the breeze, a little drunk, just grown brave enough
to lift wisps of hair from your neck’s warm skin,
while sunlight swings from everything it touches
like finches sipping upside down
from the kowhai’s honeyed teats...
so when she says, ‘Beautiful day, isn’t it? Paradise!’
can’t you almost believe you’ve earned it,
and that we’ll all – all of us –
be all right, now we’ve had this glimpse
of where the old dream
thinks we’ll get to, in the end?

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