Attempts to Hearten a Sooty Shearwater
It doesn’t matter too much on these islands if you are a seabird and have found your way inland. From any mountain here, we can sight the sea.
From any heightened place, we can see one cloud somewhere in the cloudless sky, or one patch of blue somewhere in the dark, so if you do get lost, be assured you can rise up high where the sea is always east or west, the land always north or south.
Higher than the rain, you will notice water blown across the city tops. It looks like the sound waves I’ve seen recorded on paper, but you’ll hear nothing from the city itself, and then whiteness should hide it all from view.
Far in the distance, someone wiggles a sheet of corrugated iron.
If you are a seabird and have found your way long inland in the rain in this country, let your sense of smell be tough. Let it be durable. Let the city odours of the rain-drenched concrete-dwelling bacteria not drown your nostrils in utter confusion, so that even in whiteness and the wet, you might always smell the bacteria of the ocean, little shearwater, little petrel, little cormorant, little shag.
Born in 1983, Charlotte Simmonds is best known for her work in Wellington theatre. Her plays include Arctic-Antarctic, The Story of Nohome Neville and Unwholesome Clare who Worked in Kitchens and Smelt like a Dish, and Burnt Coffee. I first read Charlotte’s work when I reviewed her book, The World’s Fastest Flower, and this is the second poem of Charlotte’s that I’ve posted as a Tuesday Poem. She sent it to me after I posted a poem by Bryan Walpert that also features a shearwater and a petrel! ‘Attempts to Hearten a Sooty Shearwater’ plays wonderfully with the idea of distance and connection. We are up on a mountain, in a “heightened place” looking out, and noises come over the distance, but there is always a “patch of blue” or the smell of the ocean to connect with.
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