Tuesday Poem: ‘Olive’ by Emily Dobson


I should have been
a beautiful woman.


I was tired of dealing
with the everyday waste
of an ordinary life.


The twins stand back to back
in the shower — they
won’t let me wash them.

One says,
‘I don’t want to die.’

The other says,
‘Have I kissed you?
I want to kiss you.’


Holes have throats.


Norma’s on the deck calling:

Here it is Jude, it’s in the beetroot.
It’s here, it’s in the beetroot!


I thought I smelt the sea
but it was only the freshly cut grass
and gathering of seagulls.


A house
with four bathrooms.
Four dignified baths
to slowly wash herself in.


Olive with her back turned
in a boat.

Only a few collections of poetry make me want to get to know the poet. Emily Dobson’s collection, The Lonely Nude, makes me want to take her out for a drink. I imagine, at the start, that she’d be shy like her poems. I also imagine that once we got talking — and I think that talk would be about poetry as a craft, and the importance of a single word, and how when used as well as you can, you can transfer some of life’s strange melancholy to the page — we’d be fine.

Dobson has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University, for which she was awarded the Adam Prize. She was also awarded the 2005 Schaeffer Fellowship to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the United States. From her MA came her first collection, A Box of Bees (VUP, 2005), which details growing up in the Hawke’s Bay in a family of apiarists. I did my own MA in 2006, and like all collections published the year before you do your MA, they are a thing of wonder; something to aim for. I’m very glad to see her second collection has made it into the world.

You can find my full review of The Lonely Nude on Landfall Review Online.

For more Tuesday Poems check out the hub.

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