Thursday, February 24, 2011

Remembering Christchurch on Poetry Friday

This week I have two poems about Christchurch, New Zealand, a wonderful city that has suffered a disaster. Please consider donating to the relief efforts there.

Neither of these poems has been revised since I wrote them in 2003.

The first poem recalls my visit to the Cathedral with my son, Angus.
The other helps me remember an extraordinary room in the museum, which is, essentially, a museum upon the act of museum. It is part of The Museum of Coincidence series.

My Angus, wild child, having won the argument
about what is interesting, inside or out.
For Angus, Archbishop of Canterbury

A gentleman of perfect kindness said that you, wild child,
might one day be the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Then, as now, it seems unlikely to be true,
but it is not in me to disabuse anyone of faith.

A moment later, I hustled you out of the nave,
soaring acoustics for a Sunday choir
or a howling child uninterested in any place
without the sea or pebbles or at least a rubber ball.

And while I brushed my hand over the stones laid in the wall
brought from Jerusalem and that other Canterbury
my fingers found out no hint of mineral recall,
nothing like you, pulling me, eager for something new.

The Cathedral was badly damaged by the quake,
but built into its foundation are stones from other
enduring places. It will be made whole again, 
I believe.

This Irish Elk is actually in the Naturalis
at Leiden, but he was not the first I'd met. 

I finally met the Irish Elk in Christchurch.
What a rendezvous!
I can only imagine the passage in crates
probably around the horn
tossed by some storm.

And then the patience
the sort of patience that only comes
when you are wired together bones
maybe surreptitiously numbered for assembly
maybe put together a little bit oddly
if it comes to that.

Until I come staggering past
thinking I can’t fit anything else in my eyes.
And the empty socket reaches out to me
and draws me right past the glass
into the wonder cupboard:
a jumble of moccasins and glass models of jellyfish
and a even a wax naturalist
because no collection is without its collector.

And, if you are able, consider helping Christchurch

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