Tuesday Poem: ‘And My Heart Goes Swimming’ by Roma Potiki

And My Heart Goes Swimming

and my heart goes swimming

wet and limpid it hangs between waves of salt
a warm heart in cold green waters
to the bottom

wave after wave washing a little skin

and my heart goes swimming

a fisherman scoops the sea
finds a heart in his hand

no cold fish warm red blood black hair

a night of swimming
open eyes laugh
see us
the man and my heart celebrate

and in the morning warm water from the tap but now

the fisherman has fish to catch
see, he has a net, and sinkers.

to the sea
my heart goes swimming
wave after wave

no fish could swim like my heart goes swimming.

This poem by Roma Potiki has long been my favourite New Zealand love poem. It is from the anthology of New Zealand love poems by the same name. Potiki’s poem captures the freedom of love through the unusual image of a heart out at sea, “wave after wave,” swimming through the night.  The poem also has moments of intensity, such as “no cold fish warm red blood black hair / blonde” that feel like passion.

The NZ Book Council states “Roma Potiki, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngaai Rangitihi, is a poet, playwright, performer and commentator on Maori theatre. Potiki illustrated her first collection of poems, and has work displayed in the permanent collection of the Dowse Gallery in Lower Hutt. Her poems ground personal emotion in observations of the natural world. Attitudes based on race and gender are challenged and politicized by Potiki, and she is known to use ironic, dogmatic or acerbic voices and devices to confront these attitudes.

This will be my last Tuesday poem for a few weeks because I get married on the 26 November and the wedding (and PhD) are making life a little hectic. A friend (and writer) will read this poem during the ceremony. Check out more Tuesday Poems on the main blog.

6 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: ‘And My Heart Goes Swimming’ by Roma Potiki

  1. This is one of my favourite poems, always a joy to hear or read. It’s a good choice to reflect the marriage. All the best for the day

  2. I think Roma Potiki’ s poems are amazing so vivid and full of emotion. I would love her to come to London to do a reading at NZ house

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