Ruth Arnison

Ruth

One of my poems has appeared in the poetry cards over the last five years so I added it to the poems offered anonymously to the artists. I have to admit I was quietly chuffed when it was selected! I’m not going to interview myself so will give you a quick bio and a couple of poems.

I was born in Oamaru and spent the first two years of my life in nearby Weston before we moved to Riverton. Riverton has always felt like home to me, it was a terrific community for a child to be brought up in. When I was nine we moved to Timaru and after five years there headed south again to Stirling in South Otago. Why all the moves? Well my Dad was a Presbyterian minister. After leaving school I worked for three years at the Dunedin Public Library before moving to Cromwell where I was the Librarian for a couple of years. The library is now well under water but luckily for me scuba gear was not required during my time there!

I then worked and travelled in the UK and Europe for a few years picking up an English husband, Barry, along the way. That sounds as though he was someone else’s husband when I picked him up, I assure you he wasn’t! We lived in Windermere for a while before deciding to return to NZ. And Dunedin has been our home ever since.

Barry and I have had three children – Jenny, Chris, and Robbie. Our wee Jenny was diagnosed, soon after birth, as having Edwards Syndrome and only lived for 16 days. Chris and Robbie are terrific sons, both in their twenties and studying/working in Otago. Barry has recently retired and I’m working at the University. Poems in the Waiting Room happily consumes a large proportion of my life so part-time work suits me fine!

Vicarage kids

The vicarage lolled on the other side of our
hedge. We slashed a go between hole
inventing our own church union.

We reckoned if living in the vicarage made
their dad the vicar, then our dad must be
the man.

Their dad had a moonish face and always
looked puzzled. He would peer at us
over the top of his glasses,

as though he couldn’t quite remember where
we came from. And we saw him
every day!

He had a gold tooth tucked down the side
of his grin. Our dad said the bank was the
best place for gold.

On rainy days we’d weave flax mats in the
wash house. When their mum got sick of
the mess she’d shoo us off

to the TV room. We’d sink into the darkness
of the tatty leather sofa absorbing Lassie,
Gentle Ben, poachers, and

deathtraps – a world away from Riverton. And
then after scattering thanks we’d head
back through the hedge

to mum’s warmth in the coal ranged kitchen,
baby in the playpen and bible readings
after tea.

On the Millennium Track

On the Millennium Track

White cobwebs float protectively over autumn vines.
The breeze gently lifts and flips leaves like
golden pikelets.

A freelancing Huntaway joins us. Dogs must be
on leads, mutters a passing walker. We shrug
and smile, not bothering

to explain this loose connection. Distracted by
a rapid moving cotton ball, she scampers away.
This is NZ’s Lake District with rabbits

so prolific, even Beatrix would despair. Around
the corner she lies across our path, tongue
dripping from the chase, tail

wagging false recognition. Poplar candlesticks
encircle the lake’s icing smoothness
yet it reflects

a yacht’s mast as a shimmering squiggle! We
turn back into the evening, observe
our guide attaching

herself to new clients. Beached for winter, a kayak
lies upturned. He laughs and says why bother,
it looks the same either way.

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