Memorandum of Understanding

BY BILL NELSON

Understand that we will be working together / and this means / we do not have to
like each other. / Understand that we have common goals / and aspirations, we
have aspirations / most of all. / Understand, that in the end, / the unspoken is
always spoken / and usually by someone not qualified to speak it. Understand, /
the rhythm of this agreement is not always symmetric, / sometimes the drummer
starts to lean / on one thigh, slowly sags to the side, / and as a result the song
can sound like mud and honey. / Understand, that I love you. / Understand, that
this doesn’t necessarily concern you. / Understand, that this is a bridging
agreement, / just a place-holder / until the full programme of individual projects
that need to occur to realise the full potential of the programme which addresses
all the individual and specific concerns and develops a full and proper
understanding of all the aforementioned concerns / is in place. Understand, / that
there are no place-holders. Understand, / that between two place-holders is a
river of uncertain places. / Understand, that the most interesting thing about the
river / are the bridges that cross it. That bridges / always cross something. That
bridges always burn. / That bridges can, and often are, / rebuilt. Understand, the
gravity / of all this / and how I’m waving my arms about / to indicate the All of
This. Understand, / the specific weight of at least / some of it. Understand, / the
specific body is important. / Understand, that no one can really understand
gravity, / it exists only on a piece of paper, / as in, like, an equation, / as in the
things between the things / we can understand. Like a bridge. Or the complex
science / that goes into a bridge. / Understand this. / This is a bridge, quite a long
one. / Understand, that we should be wary of long bridges. / If we find ourselves
seduced / by long bridges, we should strip off, / stand in front of the mirror, /
squeeze all the wobbly bits. / I understand / that’s what you do when I’m not
around. / From now on, let’s do that together, / let’s squeeze our secrets, / but
only with one another. Let’s understand the wobbly bits and squeeze them. /
Let’s be wobbly, let’s be squeezy. / Let’s remember what it felt like to be
memorable. / Let’s stand under this understanding and marvel / at her structure,
the curve of her thought-bearing hips / as she takes our concerns, / one by one,
without complaint.

[NOTE: Bill Nelson read this poem at the Wellington LitCrawl on Saturday. He read it in a strangely expressive monotone – I wish I had a recording of it – and it was my big highlight of the LitCrawl. I was sitting behind Bill and when he returned to his seat I prodded him appreciatively in the shoulder but I don’t think he noticed, so this is my chance to make my appreciation more boldly known. Obviously Bill is a writer of poems (here are three great ones: ‘Giant Steps’ and ‘The Evidence’ and ‘All the love poems’) but he also writes for the brilliant NZ outdoors journal Up Country (which he edits with fellow writers John Summers and Thom Gower). He is also a player of squash, football, hockey and possibly tennis. He is on twitter. Bill’s poems always hit a real nerve with me. They have a tone and a temperature unlike anyone else, and his stuff tends to stick in my head. Like the line: ‘She had legs like a Saturday night movie’. And they’re often dazzlingly uncomfortable. Once, at Te Papa Marae, Bill read a poem that featured masturbation and I have never forgotten it.]

About ashleighlou

Person, usually on bike
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2 Responses to Memorandum of Understanding

  1. David Geary says:

    Stellar poem. Bill Nelson sure knows how to squeeze the wobbly bits… thanks for sharing.

    Like

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