Letter to My Sister

Written for ‘Given Words’, August 2020

Do you remember that summer
we stayed with Grandma in York Bay
                      Aeons ago

Two cross-country children
I’m sure it was your idea to map the stream
from the bush to the sea
We were obsessed with tunnels and found at least four
zigzagged back and forth under the road
and through the neighbour’s gardens
hands and knees through stones and broken bits of concrete
Weaving around civilisation but not of it
trespassing through respectability – crouched –
with heads just below the bank
Burrowing ragamuffin maggots

Explorers and pirates we were,
greedy for fresh discoveries and booty.
We documented our finds in careful calligraphy then dipped the finished product in the teapot for the authentic look

Remember the phase of trying to write each other letters
– in code of course –
with seagull tail feathers?
It didn’t really work

Then at night we were cocooned in Grandma’s snug sheets in our red spotty nighties
dreaming of secret passageways or invisible writing in lemon juice
Pesky little flies we were,
into everything and persistently grubby
always hatching up new and potentially annoying plans

Childhood imagination
so elusive
As soon as you notice where it’s at
it’s gone – only to reappear like magic
out of reach
at the top of a curtain

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I’m a piano playing, mountain climbing poet and nature lover. I’m married with two wonderful children. We share our time between Auckland city and Tongariro National Park and other wilderness areas.

10 thoughts on “Letter to My Sister”

  1. That ‘Letter to my sister’ brings back memories of when I used to stay on my Uncle’s farm in Whenuakite, just north of Tairua. I loved exploring round that area especially following the creek that eventually would end up in Purangi, Cook’s Beach.
    Interesting mode of ‘Escape’ My mode is to listen to a Douglas Lilburn Symphony which evokes in most cases the South Island though he once admonished me- ‘This is music, not a postcard’.


  2. It was so good to read that poem Linda. It’s still reverberating in my mind with good feelings. I read it out to mum last night as I was fixing up an old duvet cover on her sewing machine, and she enjoyed it too. Yes, completely reminds me of the same kind of adventure that Katherine and I had up there once at grandma’s.


  3. I’m glad your Mum enjoyed it too! There was a morepork up in that bush. I haven’t managed to share the poem with Suzy herself, yet, as she is still in hiding up her own creek!


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