Jenny Bornholdt is the major New Zealand poet of her generation. Her new Selected Poems provides a full representation of her work through nine collections and nearly thirty years.
Favourite short poems like ‘How to get ahead of yourself while the light still shines’ and ‘Being a poet’ are here alongside vernacular anecdotes like ‘Then Murray came’ and powerful long poems like ‘Confessional’ and ‘Big Minty Nose’ from her award-winning collection The Rocky Shore.
Filled with the lyric beauty, wit and feeling for which Jenny Bornholdt is renowned, Selected Poems will be essential reading for years to come.
I used to live in a road that sounds like salamander. Ferns grew in the letterbox. I drove with my wrists.
The man who claimed to love me then then loved my friend, then again, another.
That first friend had a beautiful brother. Still does. And the second? It was her brother I loved.
He wore school shirts of a heavenly blue. He gave me two. Then left. They always do. Or did, back then.
Back then they made a cotton shirt that lasted. Witness now I have a shirt that first brother wore. I see him sitting, loose- limbed, languid, in the doorway, strumming a guitar. Beside him stands the genius boy who later died—made restless, pacing in a garden.
I often wear this shirt my friend— that brother’s sister—gave me. These summer days I slip on my old, plain, cotton life and go about in it.
Cast in order of appearance
Best to be the GIRL IN BED in the movie. He gets up brushes a light hand across your sleepy breasts, you ask will I see you again? and he says, as he pulls on his shirt no then you say as he’s going out the door you’ve got great hands and he smiles a little and exits, leaving you alone in your room above the café where the neon sign flicks information onto your wall. And it suits you. You lie for a bit. The rest of the movie is all yours. You’re left to dress in private, to go downstairs and have coffee in the café before meeting up with the MAN WITH SAUCE BOTTLE who doesn’t appear until later but gets a laugh and might be remembered. You won’t be, unless it’s days later in an idle moment and by that time you’ll be miles away, on holiday with friends out on the lake in a boat taking in the trees.
From behind the hedge
It sounds like one woman. Her heels click across the road and every so often she says something. This is one woman talking to herself every now and again.
Or maybe there are two women. One woman in loud shoes who every now and again comments to another woman who is silent and wears soft shoes or maybe is silent and is piggybacked across the road by the first woman so as to give a false impression.
Or maybe the second woman is mute. Maybe she taps softly on the first woman’s shoulder in answer—once for yes, twice for no, and maybe she stays in the car while the first woman goes back and forth across the road.
Only one car door slams. ls this because there is only one woman or because the mute woman is tired?