New Zealand, (1948-2016)
- I was searching for a poem. I really wanted one
- and it was getting not exactly dark but green and pale
- a luminous sky just before night and I’d looked in all
- the usual places e.g. weather the season, even love
- and so on, but all that appeared was this pig,
- a kune kune called Millie. She was asleep
- in her stable on a bed of straw and covered
- with a Mexican blanket. She shared the shed
- with well-stacked logs from a peach tree.
- The sound she made was the rhythm of snore in,
- then air let go. I liked that but it was not a poem,
- nor when she got her bulk up over her small feet,
- those splayed cloven high-heeled hooves.
- How small her eyes were, how rough her skin.
- How the long hairs were white and black and spare and coarse.
- Her mouth over strong yellow teeth was small and mean.
- Her eyes were hidden in the folds of her face, her pale lashes.
- And there was no poem in her food in a stainless steel bowl,
- just bits of cabbage and carrot and white bread and tomato,
- nor in her snuffling selection, her approval in sounds.
- So there was no poem to be found in the usual places,
- nor in the strange ones. It was the day of the pig
- and a week before the year of the sheep.
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]