In a foreign field
(for Steve and Eriko)
In order for our son to plant
the garnet-coloured placentas
of his babies, both times Gentaro-san,
his father-in-law, carried them
tenderly wrapped many times in plastic,
from the hospital on a train, travelling faithful lines
home, where the deep-blood
of them could be buried
later, inside ancient family ground
there in Japan and each time
under new trees; a magnolia, an olive.
So what past hand- sketched this future
for our son on this stone I look into,
gathered by my father long ago
with its dark-red sky of trees?
The story it tells is of a pale trail of stars, the moon,
petals or branches in the snow. Rivers or veins.
Of jet trails across a sky darkening to puce, tracks
that follow our son as he is drawn
to this other country and culture
and where part of him and so part of us too is now
buried under new trees; a magnolia, an olive.
Commentary by the poet:
This book is a poetic memoir – a chronological documentary of my life from birth to present – and the poem I have chosen to send to you, is from the last section of the book.
Each poem in the book has a title that is either the name of a song, or a line from a song. This poem’s title, ‘foreign fields’, is a line from the song, ‘Viva La Vida’, sung by Coldplay. It is a song chosen by our son and his wife (who is from Japan) for their New Zealand wedding celebration.
The poem is partly in memory of my son’s father-in-law, but also a celebration of life, the continuation of family lines and the precious gift of cross-cultural links. It is also a link to my own father from Southland, new Zealand, who collected beach stones from a beach on the southern coast and used them to decorate a set of stone steps leading to the front door of my childhood home. The home these steps led into has long-disappeared, but the gemstone-encrusted steps were rescued from the ruins. I feel fortunate to have them sitting in my garden. The stones on these steps tell me stories, one of which is described in this poem.
This poem follows a beautiful poem that I posted two weeks ago as a tribute to a friend who recently passed away. This week I’m so pleased to have another beautiful tribute to the memory of a person. Another celebration of life. Thank you Kay McKenzie Cooke!
Tuesday Poem is a collective of poets who share poetry on a weekly basis across borders and time zones. At the TP hub this week, you’ll find ‘Symbols that make up the breaking girl’ by Helen Rickerby, posted by Hub Editor Mary McCallum, plus poems by the various TP collective members. Look down the left-hand sidebar and click on each one to see their weekly contributions.
For more Tuesday Poems, go here.