Writing Wellington: Twenty Years of Victoria University Writing Fellows
1995 Gregory O'Brien
1995 Gregory O'Brien
Contents of a Breeze, Wellington
Elaborate forms of urban life, Wellington: swirling trees
aeroplanes pass between, a freshly mown lawn arriving from
three blocks away. As Eastern Europe heads west, school parties
raise and lower the Green Belt, a tour bus vacates the mountainside
and our rubbish bin which disappeared southwards five days ago
returns, clattering, rolling in from the north-east.
Where in the wind's high or low room we might find a child's
wind-sock, wooden pigeon or 737, the paddling pool uplifted
from our lawn. This the southerly's argument: snow in the middle
of summer, the departed Flann O'Brien tee-shirt, Golden Boy deck-
chair, Mondrian teatowel, leaves the shape of every country of a
rearranged world, all headed upwards, to god, Saint Augustine,
In the absence of a whistling stairwell, all we have is air,
air's whistling. Two weeks after Guy Fawkes, a Crimson Starburst
finally flutters back to earth, landing among burnt-out Double Happies,
Mighty Cannons, Foxton Fizz. Considering, late November,
the wind's freight of trees and parts of trees, everlasting debris. And further
north the southerly. Petone foreshore. Where the striped tent went.
(September —December 1990)
View of Wellington from Marahau
Every tract of land has its title, or so Mein Smith
sizing up the Wellington Harbour periphery
would have maintained—in either role
surveyor or watercolourist. I think of him
now, not often, some miles south
amidst the breezy constellations of Marahau
'a garden where wind is grown', hatching ground
for the storms that cross Cook Strait to rip up
Wellington Harbour, imagine him here
uprooted, transplanted, gridding up the tilted
and irrational properties
of wind and water, struggling with the meandering
tides, eddying bulbs, their crazy intelligence.
Then finally being thrown clear
of his fastidious paperwork into unimpeded space.
As titles are given and grown beyond, like him we're all
churned up, steered into harbours
not our own, or left to languish in this storm-tossed
garden where, on its windy stem, one bud
is a washed out moon, another a fishing buoy
bobbing, the one streetlamp of the nearest town
or a gong-like bubble of sound that opens the first
waking eye of the not yet born
another bud swaying on its necessary stem.
Gregory O'Brien (b. 1961) is a poet, fiction writer, painter, writer on art and anthologist. His collections of poems and drawings include Location of the Least Person (1987), Great Lake (1991), Days Beside Water (1993) and Winter I Was (1999). Diesel Mystic (1989) is an illustrated novel. He has edited a collection of New Zealand love poems, and co-edited An Anthology of New Zealand Poetry in English (OUP, 1997).