Tuesday Poem – Rona remembers sorrow, by Reihana Robinson

Rona remembers sorrow

He covers my eyes with his downy pelt,
he rolls me into his marsupial pouch.

I taste the dirt and tang of earth and sex.

My heart lies thumping in its cage.

Now and then I stick my neck out
and deflect my lover’s prowess.

He shudders his love into me, knowing
I am absent.

He strokes me as if I were made of feathers
and hollow bones, as if I were the only
fragile invention.

We both know there is nothing to be done.

In a swivel of space I see
half of earth.

She moves in a daze, understanding
only the animals.

She is wondering if she will make it to the
millennium party.

She coughs
like in the old days.
For this I stick my neck out.

Reihana Robinson

A couple of weeks ago,  I went to the Skyline in Wellington (top of the cable car, stunning views of the harbour) for the launch of Reihana Robinson’s new poetry book, Auē Rona, published by Steele Roberts.  There was wonderful poetry, delicious food, fine company and a most entertaining speech by Roger Steele who pointed out that all three winners of the PM’s literary awards this year (Sam Hunt, Greg O’Brien and Albert Wendt) are poets.  There was even the chance to buy one of Noa Noa von Bassewitz’s woodcut prints, which feature in the book (and yes, there’s now one on our wall).  It was lovely to meet Reihana, finally.  We featured together in AUP New Poets 3 in 2008, but had never actually met.

Auē Rona is a re-telling of the legend of Rona and the moon, but it’s also more than that.  These are poems of love, grief and defiance, poems that move from the moon to Cape Reinga, to the wider Pacific.  In her notes to the collection, Reihana writes:

“The traditional story of Rona and the moon opens as she is collecting water for her children. A cloud covers the moon; she falls, spilling the water, and she curses. As punishment she is torn from earth and taken to the moon, still clutching her calabash and holding a ngaio tree.  Auē Rona. Oh Rona. Oh grief. Oh sorrow.”

Reihana Robinson’s writing has also been published in a number of journals including Landfall, Cutthroat, Hawai’i Review, Trout, Melusine, JAAM,  Takahe, Cezanne’s Carrot and Blackmail Press.  She lives in the Coromandel. You can listen to a Radio NZ podcast featuring Reihana here and visit her website here.

Other Tuesday Poems here.

Aue Rona cover

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