Monday, November 19, 2012

Tuesday Poem - The Landscape by Mary McCallum

The Landscape
My father serves lunch, lifts
the salad with servers, offers
a dish of olives,
the muted light stroking his
hands, head bent as if
in a pew, paler
than I think of him.
On the pergola
above, the leaves of the vines
are ecstatic and lime-bright,
a scribble of veins,
tendrils, shadows - a reminder how light
both clarifies and complicates -
how a simple landscape of skin, let's say,
can become a whole atlas.
Here the x-ray,
there the scan.
The chickens
pant in the hedge.
He chops bread

and chunks of cheese, lays
one on the other
passes it across the table
to my mother,
his hand a plate. She's feeling
the heat, longs to be cool
 inside with a book, is looking
up, grateful

for the vines, for the lean of the tree
beside us, its pollen rising rapidly like small fish
in a vertiginous sea.
The olive dish

is passed around again. My father
sweeps crumbs
onto the grass with his hand. (He asks
the surgeon now and then, 'When it comes

again how will I know?') All this
light and still the incomprehensible
scrabble of things,
dark scribbles

that dim
the bright falling. Above,
the sky's open palm,
supplicating leaves.
While I was in NZ, staying out at Eastbourne with Mary and her family, rejoicing in  the view of Makaro Island, she gave me a copy (number 59/100) of her amazing little book - The Tenderness Of Light. The first book out from her own Makaro Press. 
Oh well - it is just a little stunner. One of the poems - After Reading Auden - won the Caselberg Prize two years ago.. 
Bad luck for you, the book is all sold out. But I have a copy - number 59.
I chose The Landscape because of its tenderness, because of its light.

Youtube reading here:


  1. Beautiful poem, thanks for posting Jen.

  2. Thank you, Jen. I remember how much you enjoyed the view out to Makaro Island - it made me love it afresh. And so glad you enjoyed the book too.

  3. How light clarifies and complicates, where love simplifies. This is a deft and touching poem. Thank you for posting it, jeanne

  4. A really beautiful poem on so many levels. Pity the book is sold out!