Green light

Featured in

  • Published 20140204
  • ISBN: 9781922182241
  • Extent: 300 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

In the deep south, the winter light is clear as beauty.
There are no half measures – it stares you in the face
until you look away. But there is also imperfection.
I must insist on imperfection. I stand before the mirror
freshly bathed, my fearful lack of symmetry
half defying gravity. Full moon and waning crescent:
a smile is a scar, a scar a crescent smile.
Evening mist and wood smoke sharpen
their wispy fingers. The air is crystallising.
In Bluff, you can buy a house for $35,000.
Rotten teeth wax into a waning southerly.
There is news of an earthquake in Wellington.
More northern lies. They take our power
and now they want our ‘resilient spirit’.
Do we really need more finely turned description
to help us admire the beauty of their imagination?
Nothing much else seems to be happening.
Should I describe my sex life, the pearl in my oyster?
The witching hour approacheth. As a child,
I mutilated my Barbie to customise her beauty.
I stare at the sky. Perhaps the southern lights,
which I have never seen, will turn green with envy
as we roil like ferrets in the frost.
Karen, who’s lived here all her life,
has never heard of them, but Edna claims
she saw them last Monday from Oreti Beach.
What was she doing out there in the dead of night?
She smiles her gap-toothed smile.
It is hard to know what to believe.
The moon, where I doubt anyone has ever set foot,
comes up and bathes my eyes
with its single milky breast.


Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

More from author


Poetry1. The Violinist in SpringIt is not the blue notes, but the blue touch paper. It is not the short fuse, but the long...

More from this edition

Interview with
Bill Manhire

InterviewBill Manhire is writer, professor and New Zealand's first inaugural poet laureate. He was also, until recently, the director of the International Institute of...

The New Zealand voice

GR OnlineEVERY so often we can hear recordings of famous New Zealanders of the past: Hillary at the conquest of Everest, former prime ministers Holland...

Whale Road

MemoirTHERE ARE SO many reasons that, when you look at the metres-long, meaty wound in the side of a whale, you don't want to...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.