Bush, Rachael

New Zealand, (1948-2016)

Pig Hunting

  1. I was searching for a poem. I really wanted one
  2. and it was getting not exactly dark but green and pale
  3. a luminous sky just before night and I’d looked in all
  4. the usual places e.g. weather the season, even love
  5. and so on, but all that appeared was this pig,
  6. a kune kune called Millie. She was asleep
  7. in her stable on a bed of straw and covered
  8. with a Mexican blanket. She shared the shed
  9. with well-stacked logs from a peach tree.
  10. The sound she made was the rhythm of snore in,
  11. then air let go. I liked that but it was not a poem,
  12. nor when she got her bulk up over her small feet,
  13. those splayed cloven high-heeled hooves.
  14. How small her eyes were, how rough her skin.
  15. How the long hairs were white and black and spare and coarse.
  16. Her mouth over strong yellow teeth was small and mean.
  17. Her eyes were hidden in the folds of her face, her pale lashes.
  18. And there was no poem in her food in a stainless steel bowl,
  19. just bits of cabbage and carrot and white bread and tomato,
  20. nor in her snuffling selection, her approval in sounds.
  21. So there was no poem to be found in the usual places,
  22. nor in the strange ones. It was the day of the pig
  23. and a week before the year of the sheep.

 Rachel Bush. Nice Pretty Things. Wellington, NZ: Victoria University Press (2011).

Editor’s Note:

Bush has commented on this poem:

When I was fifty-four, because there didn’t seem much point in waiting around any longer to begin, I started having lessons in classical singing. At my teacher’s house in the country I liked the singing and liked too the cockatoos, the dogs, the ducks, the hens and the kune kune pig. I liked watching and hearing this pig. I liked scratching her dry back. I looked forward to being in her strong presence while I waited for each lesson.

Sometimes writing comes easily. Often it doesn’t. Sometimes I find a good place to begin is by working out what is very immediate that preoccupies or obsesses me. Like an engaging pig with a strong personality, an impressive girth and an attitude of amiable indifference to me. I wanted to focus on the ordinary reality of the life of this pig and also suggest a quality about her that I can only describe as a kind of unreachable otherness.

About the Poet:

Rachael Bush, New Zealand (1948-2016) was a poet and teacher. She was published in periodicals such as Sport, Landfall and Faber’s Introduction for many years. She also published three poetry collections: The Hungry Woman (1997), The Unfortunate Singer (2002) and Nice Pretty Things (2011). [DES-03/17]

A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.