I hear the sea how we come back
claiming to be altered when
the painting of the barracks shows once we were never
live in what’s
now owned by us, round trees curled
down to hear your thoughts starred
bold but let’s walk unscripted to the bar where we sang
when we knew where we were where the baby grand played
her high chalked notes and we
cried ourselves to water
(Shared with permission. Previously published in IKA 2, Manakau Institute of Technology.)
Alice Miller was a finalist for this year's Sarah Broom Poetry Prize, the winner of which was announced on Sunday at the Auckland Writers Festival. 'Albert Park' was part of her submission for this.
I had all the best intentions in the world to attend the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize event at the festival and to visit Albert Park in between times, but festivals can be crazy places. However, I was delighted Alice gave us this poem and although I initially thought of the wonderful Albert Park in central Auckland - the curled trees and being framed by water - I also like the generic name of the park that you could find anywhere in the world. Alice Miller is a universal presence herself, having lived and written in New Zealand, North America and Europe.
The line breaks intrigue me and I'm inclined to read them in several different ways as they curl about the page like the leaves and branches implied. The lines also create a sense of movement - the "unscripted walk" to the bar perhaps, the sea or the claim of having been altered as "we" return.
The "round trees curled / down to hear / your thoughts" echoes so clearly a Charles Simic poem I love, 'Evening Walk' that I can't escape marrying the "high chalked notes" and crying at the end of Miller's poem to the sound of nightbirds like lost children at the end of Simic's. "Once we were never" is an absolute truth of this poem, again evoking the "other evening strolling ahead" in Simic's world. The past is just so damn present.
'Albert Park' is dynamic and subtle. I urge you to read it again.
This week's Tuesday Poem was selected by Saradha Koirala, a teacher and poet based in Wellington.
Check out the other Tuesday Poems in the sidebar to the left.