wonderful to relate

posted by Michele

We were in Hawke’s Bay last weekend for a family wedding, a year on from the big ceremony at Matahiwi and the presentation of Jacob Scott’s laureate sticks. So it was a blast to find out some months back that my Australian niece and her Kiwi boyfriend were planning to get married in Hawke’s Bay where his large family has its headquarters. We were happy indeed to gather at Clearview Estate, just down the road from Haumoana, for the wedding which brought people from far and wide and was a high-water mark for both families.

The matua tokotoko was along for the occasion and was passed from speaker to speaker at the reception. It seems clear that the more this and the other laureate sticks go hand to hand, the greater their mana becomes. The wedding speeches were eloquent and moving, and of course the groom’s father knew Jacob Scott and is a published poet himself. These are the things you find out at weddings.

My part in the speeches was to read a poem written a few weeks ago and soon to be the last-but-one component of the collection that will be published in late June as Mirabile Dictu. It’s fair to say that of many wonderful things that have happened in the course of the laureate year and a half, none is as wonderful as the story that brought us all to Clearview for Almitra and Joel’s wedding.

wonderful to relate

my brother leaves a message    call me
something has happened    is it an emergency
or terra incognita waving about in the trees
closer than anyone imagined    a daughter
he says when I call him back    I have a daughter
and she is twenty seven years old

this takes a bit of explaining    and when
he has I ask is there a photo    did you take
some photos    the files arrive as we talk
I open them and there she is    someone
who looks like all of us    and is most surely
herself    the stranger who is his daughter
our niece    and now eldest of five cousins
it takes a long time to work out
the delicate shapes that might be    and when
it is done    she comes to meet us
more photos more talk    we have given her
our grandmother’s rings    she gives us
the gift of herself    if we will have her

that part is easy    and now there’s
a wedding in the air    they will tie the knot
with his people and we will travel again
to Te Matau a Maui    this time
with everyone on board    and in a vineyard
at the far end of summer    with strangers
who have made us welcome    my brother
will give away his daughter    knowing
she has made us into something bigger
and more precious than anyone
could have imagined    she is herself
and she is one of us    for her
we will travel the miles to Haumoana
looking at the windy sea    thinking about
long ago family weddings and how this one
is adding its quota of surprises
and serendipity to the story we thought
we knew    mirabile dictu we say
wiping away a sneaky tear    such wonders
and everybody talking    we are here
with a million champagne bubbles
bursting miraculously against our lips
wish us well    we are going to a wedding

How the story circles: our grandparents were married in Woodville in 1924 and my father was born in Hastings a year later, so there is a family connection to the Bay that just got a whole lot stronger.

Top; (left) Five cousins at Clearview, 14 March 2009, (right) Joel Watson and Almitra McQurade
Bottom: Henry Nelson Leggott & Janet Rintoul Elder, Woodville, 1924


Harvey Molloy said...

What a lovely post and poem. Thanks.

nelsonmotel said...

wonderful - well thought out, i hope you dont mind if i draw on your theme and inspiration for a poem Im writing (personal not commercial :) ) about nelson my home city