2 poems by Helen Anderson

CHRISTCHURCH, 15 MARCH 2019

The soft, curved simplicity of the hijab

frames our sister’s face

she walks in autumn’s gentle air 

her children leap and run

a touch of joyful play 

beauty and truth cohere

in the image

absurdity of the next moment

fractures humanity 

again

and again

the flutter of hate

becomes a roar

in an instant

she walks

head bowed

abandoned by our shared Gods.

Will there be a spring?

SIXTY MILLION YEARS OF KNOWING

Tuatara lies nonchalantly 

On its rustling, twigged recliner,

Limbs spread, warming in the sun 

Elegant scaled spine with reptilian peaks,

Mathematically precise curve

To her tail.

Gaudy tracking beads 

On the back of her neck,

An insult to her style as

Carrier of the secrets of the ages

We watch her over the fence

She ignores us, 

We are too new.

Her third eye 

Absorbs the world

While we hope for

A leaf of her ancient wisdom. 

Note: Tuatara is a large spiny lizard-like reptile with a vestigial ‘third eye’ in the middle of its forehead that is native to islands off the coast of New Zealand. It is the only surviving rhynchocephalian.

About the contributor

Helen Anderson is a New Zealand-based poet, academic and technical writer. She is a past winner of the Auckland War Memorial Museum ‘Lest We Forget’ Poetry Competition. Her poetry arises from the loves, lives and deaths that make up the people and environment of her beautiful, damaged and hopeful country.

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