I’ve written before that I like poems with an imperative voice, urging me to listen, to do this, try that. In such uncertain times, I am always interested in a poet who has the courage to write “Do this and you will be ok…” It doesn’t matter if I agree or not, I always enjoy the gesture.

I just read Sarah Broom’s recently published book ‘Tigers at Awhitu’ and can recommend it most heartily. It contains meditations on our vulnerability, the disasters that follow allowing ourselves to love, and the very-human drive to live…to stay alive. It is a terrific book.

Well-known Northern Irish poet Medbh McGuckian said of this book (quote borrowed from Booksellers website):

“A book for our times; specifically a woman’s, and more specifically, a mother’s book, it is ‘about time that wears / as ragged as storm-blown wings’. Poems of deep poignancy and unflinching tenderness are presented against a backdrop of encroaching tidescape in which a fierce beauty burns all the more brightly, the more it is threatened.”

Indeed. I especially liked this one, with its reassuringly confident first line:

Not yet, not now

by Sarah Broom

Hush now, I know what to do.
Find the place that always waits.
Is there sand there? Bury yourself deep
in its sun-stores. Lie there as long
as it takes. Are there waves?
Let them dump you. Is there a creek?
Sit and listen. Smell its closeness
to your body, the intimate trickle
of water through leaf-rot. Is there snow?
Fall into it, face down. Feel its aristocratic slap,
the clarity of its sting. Are there mountains?
Climb them, press your body against
the rock’s indifference. Is there a river?
Stand in it. Wrestle for your footing.
Feel its urgency, its desire for you.
Are there hills? Walk your feet
all over them, smell the brawny reek
of sheep dung, lock your ear to the whirr
of the wire fence in the wind.
Now – are you here? Are you here?

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