Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shetland Ponies, Haast Beach by Tim Jones

Forest and sea have had their way
with memory. A few houses — silent,
locked — remain. Between car and beach,

a field of Shetland ponies, already
calling her by name. But I'm
facing inland, bush not far beyond,

mountains piled like thunderheads
across the morning light. Was this
our house, or this, or this now empty field?

For eighteen months, we lived here
while they built the road. I was two, then four.
What I have are barely memories:

my mother at the washing line. My father's
longed-for homeward stride. Grader drivers
lifting me onto their knees to ride.

Work done, we drove away, the new highway
bearing our fortunes south, over spilling streams,
across the Main Divide. Now I'm back, reclaiming

what may be reclaimed. The forest
has no answers. The sea lies past the ponies.
"Look," she says, "they're eating from my hand."

 Editor: Alicia Ponder

From the soon to be released collection Men Briefly Explained, I found Tim Jones' Shetland Ponies, Haast Beach instantly compelling. It's the first stanza deliberately filled with contemplative pauses - echoing those empty spaces of memories from a long-forgotten past - and the lovely shape in the way the poem moves between the present and the past, with glimpses of these, as if from a car window on a long journey to a pivotal destination. The poem as a whole has a real feeling of reclaimed memories in a solid and imperative now.  

Tim Jones is a poet, author and editor, and Men Briefly Explained will be his third solo collection of poetry, out in October.  I'm looking forward to hearing him read from it at a launch event at Rona Gallery, the bookshop my family owns in Eastbourne (Friday October 28, 6 pm), and at other venues around the country.  

Tim's support of New Zealand poets and poetry has been amazing, he was highly instrumental, along with co-editor Mark Pirie, in creating and keeping alive the dream of "Voyagers" a highly esteemed collection of New Zealand Science Fiction poetry and a real boost for many NZ Poets.  He also recently edited the Australian and New Zealand Speculative Poetry Collection in the second issue of Eye to the Telescope, published online here by the Science Fiction Poetry Association.  
Tim is a Tuesday poet who lives in Wellington NZ, and blogs at Tim Jones: Books in the Trees.  Some of his books can be found on his blog, including the short story collection Transported longlisted for the 2008 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.

Alicia Ponder is this week's Tuesday Poem editor.  She lives in Eastbourne, and loves poetry, and writing for children.  She is the co-author of two art books, and is published in New Zealand and Australia .  She blogs here at an Affliction of Poetry.  

After you've read the hub poem, try out some of the Tuesday Poem posts in the sidebar. 


Melissa Green said...

Tim, I wrote a long message this morning but it's lost in the wilds of cyberspace. This is a beautiful piece of work, its pace is just right, there is never a hint of a hesitation or one blade of grass off, all the way through to the fine ending. Thanks Alicia for posting this, and Tim, it's lovely.

Harvey Molloy said...

Good one, Tim.

Helen Lowe said...

I agree, Alicia--this is compelling writing. More than ever, I am now looking forward to "Men Briefly Explained."

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Melissa, Harvey and Helen!

I am particularly glad to hear that people like this one, because although it's one of my favourites from "Men Briefly Explained", it has never got much of a response when I've read it at poetry readings, and I was wondering whether it is too hard to work out what's going on. Your responses are very reassuring!

Tim Jones said...

And I should also have said - most of all - thanks to Alicia for selecting this poem!

AJ Ponder said...

I love it, and I love the way that every time I read it I see something more!! Thanks Tim for making my job easy :) And thanks to everyone who has commented. :)

lillyanne said...

What a lovely poem - filled with memory and loss and still heavy with the present. Gorgeous.

Janis said...

I'm with Helen L - very much looking forward to 'Men Briefly Explained'

Rachel Fenton said...

The Shetland ponies really exude lonliness - apartness - and memory for me. I found the imagery very moving.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks again, everyone - these comments are much appreciated!