Tuesday Poem: ‘Build It Up Here’ by Pip Adam

Build It Up Here

We clear a space. I’m not sure how we move things in the absence of applied force; no gravity, no electromagnetism, no strong force, weak force, friction, drag or spring force. It’s not here, it wasn’t ever. I assume we just touch something lightly in the direction away from where we want the space and it goes on forever, or until it hits something else, which is annoying because then it comes back, straight back, like on an air hockey table. Eventually and somehow though, we clear a space. Probably quicker than I imagine because we’ve been living here forever, floating and flying, like George Jetson.

When the space is clear we collect things to build with. Nothing has fallen, nothing will fall, so we look up, into the tall trees. I shake one and it returns forever until you push it back less and I push it back and less and less until it’s at rest. It stays at rest. It’s a happy place, like heaven. Nothing happens except we’re building a bridge here. It’s going to be bigger. Bigger than the trees, you think, and I concur, ‘It could be a bridge over the trees.’ We need to join the trees to make them bigger but first we need them on the ground. Nothing falls. We push a tree flat onto the ground, it hits others on the way down and everything moves, and moves forever, and we are worried for a moment. We don’t have a plan for stopping things, it takes a long time, each tree needs pushing less and less but then one pushes me and I can’t stop. I persist in uniform motion in a straight line away from the tree and into the space we’ve cleared. You remind me, as I persist past you, we can do anything. So I feel in my body for stop and still and I stop and am still. As I walk back to, I say I didn’t think it worked like that. You say it can work however we want and I say, ‘That is bound to stifle our creative practice,’ but I like it much better than moving in a straight line, at the same velocity, forever. In our cleared space we tie the trees together with their smallest branches to build the first pier.

‘Build It Up Here’ by Pip Adam originally appeared in Blackmail Press 25. Pip writes in Wellington where she is completing her PhD Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters. Her PhD topic explores how the language of engineering might be used for creative ends. Her debut collection of short stories, ‘Everything We Hoped For‘, was published by VUP in 2010. I asked Pip if I could use this piece because, while Pip is a fiction writer, her work can be poetic in its use of language. The swinging and circuling rhythm of this surreal narrative propels a reader through the piece. Sitting alongside ‘The Road,’ it makes an interesting companion ‘poem’.

For more poetry please visit the Tuesday Poem blog.


7 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: ‘Build It Up Here’ by Pip Adam

  1. @AndrewN – Well, all writing is a matter of taste. Recently I’ve been trying to write a sort of anti poetry that I find hard because it tries to be anything but lyric poetry. I read Pip’s piece as an exploration of what prose can do when it isn’t doing the usual (and very satisfying things) that prose does. I get this from the line: “‘That is bound to stifle our creative practice,’ but I like it much better than moving in a straight line, at the same velocity.”

  2. I enjoyed this. With short prose, I tend to most enjoy it when it is poetic, prose-poemy. I find the space between and the overlapping of poetry and prose really interesting. I don’t think they are so different, really. Or, at least, they aren’t always so different. Poetry is usually more condensed, but it doesn’t have to be. Poetry is usually all about subtext and image and symbol, but prose can be too. Prose doesn’t have to be about plot, poetry can be narrative. It’s a fun place to be playing and exploring. Thanks Pip and thanks Sarah.

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