At the Wellington Public Library memorial event for the amazing Taranaki poet JC Sturm, one of her friends stood up and started her recollection: "Kermit the frog said it isn't easy being green, and Jacqui found it wasn't easy being brown either."
Some days this feels so true that it hurts. Immoral legal decisions and an inefficient but brutal police state, an especially harsh National government budget, and as I have been excitedly planning a future with a certain lovely man, two men from home have received their sentences: two and a half years of their future will be in prison.
When I posted this poem on facebook earlier today, I called it 'extreme' because this what what I sat down to write about. How is it possible to feel such extremes of emotion at the same time? How does one keep the right emotions in the right compartments so bitterness doesn't bleed through into spaces which are cherished, so hard-edged cynicism doesn't bleed through to spaces where one feels (nicely) vulnerable? So gooey lovely sweetness doesn't prevent sharp attentive critical thought when it's needed?
The poem that came out was about extremes, but I have called it 'Too' in the end. This is a poem about addition, layers, also, extremes. It's a poem which says 'me too' as well as 'this too' as well as 'too much.' (And, yes, 'Too' is a pun. Tu mai Taranaki, E Tu, Kia tu. Tumatauenga.) Too.
It’s too hot on my porch today:
a concentrated dose of Toronto sun which was gently diluted in winter months
is burning a hole in the pocket of the day,
pressing into my black clothes;
it’s too bright to read Indigenous theory off white paper here.
It’s too colonial in my country today:
Four sentences, three Maori, two jailterms, one judge, zero justice,
and meanwhile a budget which catches the crumbs as they fall off the table,
places them back on laden plates
rather than letting them fall like gentle rain from heaven
to the disenfranchised who have come to depend upon them.
It’s too distracting in my body today:
a heartful, a mindful, a dreamful of love
obsessed and smiling, I try to keep focus:
such depth of connection, such delicate urgent intimacy
such lightness of being
feels inappropriate in these too-hot colonial times.
Pick up coffee cup and printed pages, open the screen door, walk back inside
My eyes take longer to arrive than the rest of my body;
they’re still adjusted for the brightness outside
I bump into things, blind, while I wait for my whole self to arrive,
and realise this is the only worthwhile way to proceed anyway
All of me, all at once:
anger, frustration, cynicism, hope
and, in the centre as well as the outer reaches, love.