Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Leaving the Tableland by Kerry Popplewell

Leaving, I stop to look
where once the long hut lay
under an outcrop on a sloping shelf;

then, try to reconstruct
from memory’s ragtag store
its silhouette, woodshed and rusting roof.

Almost, I smell wet smoke
but no one stops now, soaked,
to dry their clothes before a sputtering fire.

Glistening, the land’s pelt shifts.
Clouds break. Chill sunlight lifts
low haze from bush around the clearing’s rim.

I move on down the track.
High up, against white rock,
damp tussock flares on the receding hill.


"Leaving the Tableland" is the title poem of Kerry Popplewell's first poetry collection, published by Steele Roberts (2010) and available from the publisher or in selected bookshops for $19.99 (RRP).

Tim Jones writes
: Having enjoyed hearing and reading Kerry's poetry over the years, I was very excited to hear that her first collection was being published. I had a tough time deciding which poem from this collection to run as this week's Tuesday Poem, but I chose "Leaving the Tableland" because it's a fine poem that showcases Kerry's skill at exploring the place where landscape and memory meet.

You can read another poem from this collection, "Portrait: Pahiatua, 1942", which Helen Rickerby recently posted as a Tuesday Poem on her blog.

"Leaving the Tableland" is reproduced as this week's Tuesday Poem by permission of the author, Kerry Popplewell.

Tim Jones is the editor of this week's Tuesday Poem. Tim is a poet, author and editor who lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

10 comments:

Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

Beautiful, haunting images and indeed just as you say Tim, indicative of where memory meets landscape. I love the 'land's pelt'. Thank you Tim and thank you Kerry.

LentenStuffe said...

Even after they've been cut down trees still occupy that 'vestigial absence' in the memory. This poem captures that interesection beautifully, economically, lyrically.

Carrie Burtt said...

Such beautiful imagery in this poem. Definitely makes me want to read the collection! Thank you for sharing it.

susan t. landry said...

l too was struck by those lovely words, the land's pelt...
thank you!

Claire Beynon said...

'Almost I smell wet smoke. . .' Beautiful!

The mirages of memory...

Thank you, Tim & Kerry.

Mary McCallum said...

I love the movement of light here from mist to tussock flaring and the shift from wetness to the promise of dryness (which the hut provided once). This is carefully contructed poem - alliteration and assonance, rhymes and half rhymes, pull the reader in to both the place and the memory, lull them .... take them on down the track... Lovely. Thanks Tim. This certainly stimulates my interest in Kerry's book.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks for your comments! The quality of the entire collection is on a par with this poem, so it is well worth seeking out. Steele Roberts have said that they'll let me know which bookshops it's available from (in addition to their own online store) - if & when I get that information, I'll post it here.

Penelope said...

From butter thief to tableland — what rich pickings here. Thanks, Tim and Kerry.

T. Clear said...

There is not a single extra syllable in this marvelous poem, and the language sings each note with amazing clarity.

Maggie May said...

it takes you there, and i smell smoke.