On Being Known

February 1, 2010

Do you ever think that maybe
the people who have always known you,
know too much of who you used to be
to let you be fully
who you are?

That maybe there comes a time
when all the cells of your body have
changed and renewed – not just once but many times,
and you are no longer the pink, writhing thing
that emerged screaming into the world, and you are no longer
the quiet, sullen thing with pigtails and a bookbag and her
head down at the back of the classroom, and you are no longer the
skinny, awkward thing in various uniforms, with a vague sense of self and
an indulgent misery, and you are no longer a string of misdeeds and mistakes and
low self-esteem – But now you find,
in new cells, new life – in organs born of old ones
new self, a changing definition.

And that this self, this singular entity, belonging
entirely to this moment, can be drawn back
to old definitions by the people who wrote them, can
find it easier in the company of old faces to be
the face they used to see, rather than the one that
whispers now for expression.

That in the company of strangers the heart feels hollow, unknown – but
in the company of family the heart feels too known,
choked by knowing, hemmed in by the old knowing,
restricted to old boundaries, memories
long past their use-by date.

That somehow from the fire of old things the new is
testing wings, that
in the cutting of apron strings the
new soul flails about in search of
somewhere new to moor itself, before realising it is
steady alone, needing no propping post to hold it afloat, but
balanced of its own accord. And that the unknown sea ahead is
at least one’s own unknown, waiting
for a self that is self-defined, and
redefined each moment, rather
than the shelter of a bay in which the self is held
by all the other times it has sheltered there in
cold weather and in wondering.

Maybe to be truly known
we must be known to be transient, fluctuating – Give me the one who will
hold a space for me in his heart which
fits whatever shape I decide to be today, not one
who will accept my square days and not my circles. Give me the one
who floats on the wind as I do,
that maybe some days our winds will coincide and we can fly together and
maybe some days our winds will part and we will
fly alone. Give me the one
who will love the potential space I fill, and not expect me to be
in one corner when I feel like being in the middle, who will love me on my
half days and my three-quarter days and the days when I expand beyond it. Give me the one
who explores fully his own spaces and asks not of me to
define which part of it he should dwell in.

Let us dwell in whatever part of life has place for us in each moment, not asking
that today define tomorrow, or demanding that we
be later what we are now, or be now what we were in photographs or
times on distant shores. Let us define ourselves in
this moment’s grammar, though it
be a foreign language to the moment before.

Let us be all the people we are, not holding out
for the ones we should have been or were. Let our edges
be ill-defined, like gas floating through a world demanding solids, being
today oxygen and tomorrow helium and never giving in to the
staid safety of steel.

Written 12 Nov 08 – ER


Eurydice’s Ode For Orpheus

January 28, 2010

Always blaming me for your
looking back –
does your sternocleidomastoid
bow to my bidding?
No, you are your own musculature’s master,
if nothing else.
Did you not know the rules
before you began?
A simple task,
your own cunning –
still too much for
mere mortal man –
and I’m the weaker sex?


I am here vulnerable
only to your folly –
only a few steps more without
needing my approval
and you could have toyed forevermore
with my existance,
had me – helpless female –
at your pleasure.

Maybe one day here in darkness
Hades will ask me what I miss from the world of

– I will think of you,
sunlight dancing off your hair as you
turn back towards me
and answer truthfully –


Written 20 Jan 09 – ER

Orpheus and Euridice by George Frederick Watts RA (1817-1904). Oil on canvas: 22 x 30 inches; 56 x 76 cm.

[This poem will make a whole lot more sense if you know the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, a story rarely told from Eurydice’s perspective.  You can read the myth like a love story.  Or you can start to ask questions.  Who says Eurydice even wanted to go back with Orpheus?!  Typical male, he just assumes that she does.  At least, this is the feminist perspective from which the poem is written – whether I agree with it or not.  I was influenced in writing this poem by poems such as Eurydice by HD and the fabulous fabulous work of Margaret Atwood (“You could not believe I was more than your echo” – perfect), among other fabulous female poets who dare to put a new slant on old stories.]



January 7, 2010

This city misses you
It’s once-child
Wide eyes newthought-brimming
Opening books like dreams
Held by wind that tears you –

Seaspray, madness:
Warm freedom.

Crawl back now in
New life’s momentpause
Calmed by storms-eye healing
Gale force whispers recall
Once-dreams, forgotten,
Songs on stony hills –

This city remembers you
To yourself
Your song-core, hidden
In tears of years and
Theory, hardened;
Calls out from you your
Word-self, rhythm –
Your one-time driver.

Cool zephyrs ever-present
Relentless, coolbreeze-asking:
Where you went
Deep parts of you
Betrayed by facts-experiment
Could here in gentle rebirth take,
In salty windswept arms, you in
Sweet murmurs ask for choice
Remember: self-songs
Please – come home.

Written 9 July 08 – ER

Photo from Wellington waterfront by ER



January 4, 2010


What if I am the daughter of God
made in Her own image,
what if I heal grazed knees and
feed masses with one fish
behind closed doors –

not preaching loud on mountaintops,
just doing quietly in kitchens
what you speak loud on every corner –
who do you think it was that picked up
the tables once overturned,
who washed and cared for Lazarus,
once arisen?

What if I, not needing to proclaim,
did unwritten,
while you, needing to be written of,
did out loud –

even your death was displayed.

I died too.  After you.

No one remembers how.  No one has forsaken me.

Written 28 April 09 – ER



December 28, 2009

In living answers out of
questions, I’m like
the dot
at the bottom of a
question mark –
still and present, yet
hovered over
by uncertainty.

Alone, I would be
a full stop –
certain, final.

But that curly ghost
sits on my shoulder
and somehow defines me.

Written 30 Oct 08 – ER


Life, Punctuated

December 27, 2009

No full stops but,
Quite a few commas,
Sometimes a semicolon;
Pause, change track;
But mostly colons:
One things leads to:
The next and:
The next and:
The next but:
Sometimes abruptly –
A hyphen –
And move on:
From time to time parentheses
(significance couched in a lower-case afterthought)
Until finally in the end
A question-mark laden

Written 8 Feb 08 – ER


Dissection (Part Two)

December 19, 2009
I peeled your skin back, Andreas,
exposed veins and
a lack of torment
just a millimetre beneath,
paper thin,
your life’s once-vessel –
connective tissue –
the glove your organs walked in.
It must have been hard for you to breathe, Andreas.
You carried a mass in your chest,
extra weight.
It was thick and solid when we cut it –
dead cells that served no purpose save death.
It must have been hard for you to breathe, Andreas.
Your heart was too big.
Your organs were in all the right places, Andreas.
Just like mine.
Mine, engorged with blood,
make yours look empty,
death your only anaesthetic
against my fervent scalpel.
I am but one heartbeat away from you, Andreas.
One heartbeat.
One precious breath.
It must have been hard for you to breathe, Andreas.
Sometimes it’s hard for me, too.
I dedicate this next one of mine to you.
Written 13 Dec 09 – ER

[NB: Andreas is what we nicknamed our dissection cadaver during med school anatomy lab.  Dissection part one is here.]