Tuesday Poem – Paekakariki


In the garden of cats
the deserted lover
learns to purr again
& threads the sun around her neck
in a garland of golden oyster shells.

Violets grow quietly
dragonflies come to call
she smells lavender
listens to the sea.

Inside her shut shell
the deserted lover makes pearls
from the gritty bits.

Thinks: If I were a cat
I’d live off parakeets
& keep my love.

Paekakariki Township & Beach, from Paekakariki...

This is an old poem I wrote years ago after I’d been house-sitting for my friends Anna-Marie and Mary-Jane in Paekakariki – “the ridge where the parakeets perch”.  It was summer and their cats and I spent a lot of time sitting about in the garden.

You can read the other Tuesday poems here.


  1. Very much like this, Janis. Feels a bit Janet Frameish, or maybe that’s because I’ve been reading her … I like the ‘shut shell’ and the unexpected casual ‘gritty bits’. Living off parakeets too… a delicious ghastly image.

  2. Yes, I agree with Helen – the last stanza really kicks a punch! I love the shift in structure, ‘Thinks: ‘. It zeros it all down to essentials. Really enjoyed this!!

  3. I’ve always thought of Paekakariki as a wild place not a place for resting or purring at all,gritty bits yes …but this poem has changed all that. It now seems quite exotic. Love the contrast between the quiet violets and the emerging personality of the deserted lover.

  4. Wow, this whole poem just sings. I love the opening, all that hope in

    “learns to purr again
    & threads the sun around her neck
    in a garland of golden oyster shells”

    And the phrasing throughout. One of my favourite poems this week — so good.

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