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Five am among the pine trees

I wrote this poem many years ago, about our last house. It was never quite right, and a year ago I wrote it again – a new poem, but about the same subject. Maybe I had a distance from it which helped me. It has been published in the Poetry Aotearoa Yearbook 2024 and I’ve also recorded it for Paula Green’s wonderful Poetry Shelf website. You can listen to it below.


The moon, surprisingly, is still

hanging between branches.


The last owner walked through these trees

dragging the damp air into his damaged lungs.

He picked up brittle bits of kindling

that he stacked In piles in the woodshed.


They were still there

when we bought the house

from his widow,


because no matter how much he believed

in the enduring warmth of open fires,

the bright flare as twigs caught alight,

pine logs crackling along splintered edges,

his lungs had other ideas.


I can hear him now,

his shoes shuffling through the needles,

the pause as he breathes the struggling air,

his fingers scraping out a bone-thin stick

and I pick it up and lay it on

the stack in the fork of my arm.

5am among the pine trees