Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Excerpt from 'Glaciers' by Sarah Jane Barnett

WORK launch

She notes down the time, opens the aquifer sample
taken from a farm west of Hastings, a saturated and fertile zone
of nested multilevel wells. She pours

it into the debubbler. The team used a direct push
drill, the cleanest way to sample intensive farming regions.
The water shines as it shunts through the tubes.

She builds a model on her computer, maps
the geology of the region, the path rain takes under
the earth, the black areas of nitrate.

It's important work. Last month they'd helped
a farmer build flow barriers, shown him how to read
the deep strata. They'd worked hard,

they'd found a way. Her phone buzzes: a text.
I'm smiling because I'll see you tonight.
She feels his breath sweet on her face.

A second text. David. Can you pick me up
early? We need to go to the pharmacy. I love you. See you soon.
She focuses on the machine,

removes the sample and starts to enter
the numbers: a red line of data works across the map.
She identifies / inhabits. She grasps. Would this

be her life's work? Her son – it was nearly time
to pick him up. She feels the pull. Each day she knows
where he will be, waiting for her

at the seashell window. He jumped out,
his tiny form crumpled forward with excitement. She can't help
but imagine him as a young man: she sees her son

on a street corner. He is eighteen. It's a few months
after he's moved out. He’s talking with a man
and a woman, hands slack in his pockets.

The day is warm. He is easy with himself,
almost languid, like a photograph
of herself in her twenties. He raises one lean arm

and lets it fall around the other young man's
shoulder. He is continuous / fluid. His laughter,
those precious drops. 


Edited by Sarah Jane Barnett

Photo Credit: Matt Bialostocki

'Glaciers' is a long-form poem that is part of my collection, WORK (Hue & Cry Press)The collection was launched into the world on 22 October at Vic Books, and you can find more photos of the launch on my website

The excerpt above is the final section of eight. The main character, a glaciologist, thinks forward to a time when her son has grown into a young man. Hinemoana Baker read part of this excerpt during her launch speech for WORK (you can hear the whole launch including the reading as a Better off Read podcast). I wanted to post it as a Tuesday Poem because 'Glaciers,' in part, is about the effort and sacrifice required by a working mother. While I'm not a glaciologist, this is my experience of being a writer and a mother. In one of the pictures above you can see my son dancing gleefully with me, Therese Lloyd and Matt Bialostocki while we're reading at the launch! 

Two interviews about WORK

On The Lumiere Reader: 'A Slut for Beauty: An Interview with Sarah Jane Barnett' 

On Poetry Shelf: 'Sarah Jane Barnett - writing is an act of contemplation for me'

You can find out more about WORK on the Hue and Cry Press website.


Sarah Jane Barnett is a poet, creative writing tutor, and book reviewer. Her poetry has been published in New Zealand, Australia, and the US, and anthologised in Best New Zealand Poems, Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems (Godwit), and Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page (Random House). Her debut collection A Man Runs into a Woman (Hue & Cry Press, 2012) was a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards. She teaches creative writing at Massey University. She lives in Wellington, New Zealand, with her husband and son.

In addition to today's feature be sure to check out the wonderful poems featured by other Tuesday Poets, using our blog roll to the left of this posting.


Ben Hur said...

Who's that cheeky boy in the top photo? We know who!

Jennifer Compton said...

would have loved to have been at that launch for sure

Michelle Elvy said...

I like how the career of a glaciologist is one you can play with so much with regard to time/ slow change/ inevitable movement. There is something very beautiful in that. I like how the woman flashes forward to imagine her son there and sees him so fluid. Nicely done - this is something I'll look forward to reading in full! Congratulations on the book launch. I bet it was neato hearing Hinemoana reading.

Helen Lowe said...

Fabulous, Sarah-Jane. Congatulations on the book and the launch. :)

Helen McKinlay said...

It's brilliant Sarah. And quite inspiring for women and mothers. The two things in contrast, the scientist on the verge of a discovery the mother discovering new things every day. A very unexpected poem. Thank you.