Tuesday Poem – Safe at Home, by Laurice Gilbert

Safe at Home

Night, and there is nothing outside my bedroom window

No red corrugated iron shed, by day ringing with the sound of Dad’s tools

No aviary of zebra finches peeping into the kitchen window below

No fairy flowers on the fuchsia, no posies on the hydrangea

No washing line to swing from, kicking the top of Dad’s birthday kowhai

No swing of thick grey pipes from the council tip, carrying me high enough to reach the wash-house roof

No square of lawn piled high with leftover wood, sometimes a princess’s castle, sometimes a pirate ship

No outside toilet populated by whirling dervish daddy-long-legses

No hole in the side fence where I slip past the leathery taupata to visit Jeannie, who feeds me chocolate cup cakes and Robinson’s lime cordial when Mum is in hospital

No hill where the Governor-General lives surrounded by pine trees; where a Bad Thing happened to a lady so we are forbidden to play in the spicy darkness with the cushioned floor; where the policemen check up on you if you do

It is night so there is nothing outside my bedroom window.

Except, of course, for passing spaceships flashing their comforting red and green lights.

Laurice May 2011My Family - cover (3)

Welcome to the first Tuesday poem of 2013!  This week’s poem is from the recently launched collection ‘My Family and Other Strangers’ by Laurice Gilbert.  Laurice says:

“The poem is based on a memory I have of a childhood night when I couldn’t sleep and I got up and played with my paper dolls (I’d have been about 7 or 8). In those days there wasn’t much light pollution, and it was very dark outside. I saw the flashing lights off in the distance just before Mum came in and told me to go back to bed.”

I enjoy the way this poem evokes childhood memories and preoccupations, and I especially like the comforting spaceships.

Laurice Gilbert is President of the New Zealand Poetry Society, and has had poems published in many journals and anthologies such as Island (Australia), The Book of Ten (UK),  Shot Glass Journal and Fib Review.  ‘My Family and Other Strangers’, Laurice’s first collection, is available from: http://www.poetrysociety.org.nz/mf%2526os   As well as reflecting on childhood, family and parenting, Laurice’s collection includes a section on Vincent van Gogh.

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