Green light

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.


Get the latest essay, memoir, reportage, fiction, poetry and more.

Subscribe to Griffith Review or purchase single editions here.

Griffith Review