Tuesday Poem: ‘Coming of age in New Zealand film’ by Helen Rickerby

Coming of age in New Zealand film

Setting the scene

The shot pans over a barren
———————————- landscape
———————————- townscape
———————————- waterscape

a dark shape on the horizon
enlarges     and becomes
a girl

Her clothes are daggy
she is not self-conscious

———Her family
is small——– but close

if she has two parents
really matters

The wolf

She is minding her own business
doing whatever
is it —— that girls do
—–even weird girls like her

When the stranger strides in
larger thanlife
————————–And there they are now
————————–talking to Mum
——————————————–or Dad

the stranger
and finds them
————————–strangerly attractive
———–both at once

No wonder she is confused

————–She begins to rebel

There goes innocence

She has reached menarche
———she reaches down
—-and finds her fingertips
————are red and sticky

She refuses to accept this

but finds she is uncontrollably drawn to lipstick
and mirrors
and possibly boys

———-She may see
———-one or other
———-of her parents
———-having sex with the stranger

maybe through a partially opened doorway

She will probably run away

———-The woman
———-will scream as she climaxes

Happy endings

Her family pulls together
as they sometimes do
———in times of

————The stranger is expelled
———————————–flung out

——————oil and water
——————chalk and cheese

The girl
——who is almost a woman
is embraced ——-like a child

———–because by the end of the movie

somebody is dead

copyright Helen Rickerby. Posted with permission from the author.

Cinema-cover-front-for-webVery glad to post this poem by Helen Rickerby, whose most recent collection is called Cinema. This poem was selected for inclusion along with 24 other poems in Best New Zealand Poems 2014. Coincidentally, my daughter was doing a study in spacing in poetry last week, with the Iowa online poetry course, and this is one of those poems that makes use of expansive space and pauses, so it is also an excellent one to study for that purpose.

Thank you, Helen Rickerby, for sharing your work!

More about the poet:

Helen Feb 14Helen Rickerby is a poet and publisher from Wellington. She has published four collections of poetry – her most recent, Cinema, was published by Mākaro Press in 2014. She runs Seraph Press, a boutique publishing company with a growing reputation for publishing high-quality poetry books, and she is co-managing editor of JAAM literary journal.


Tuesday Poem is a collective of poets who share poetry on a weekly basis across borders and time zones. Please check out the other poets and the main poem at the TP hub this week — ‘Taken’ by Jo Bell, brought to us by Hub Editor Kathleen Jones.

Tuesday Poem For more Tuesday Poems, go here.


This entry was posted in Other People's Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘Coming of age in New Zealand film’ by Helen Rickerby

  1. Helen Lowe says:

    I chuckled, reading this, because it evoked “Vigil” so strongly. 🙂

  2. I haven’t seen Vigil but the poem is very evocative of the change in New Zealand life in movies, television and which occurred seemingly quite suddenly a bit like crashing the car and getting out to find that the world had changed. It’s a poem that needs reading and re reading. Thanks for sharing it Michelle and Helen 🙂

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