Day 24: Pōhutukawa

On the downslope from solstice
our true December trees

are brazen, bloody-bright. You can keep
your dark, doomed pines, all smooth tradition

for the baubles – sadness-
-in-waiting beneath fake snow –

that never worked out here
on the edge. Our festive day is gaudy

with the tinsel-glare of sun, we grew up ripe
to glut ourselves on light this time

of year. The young, the old, they really crave
the exact same simple gift. And pōhutukawa,

she shows you every year how to age
shamelessly. Carried on her auntie’s back

toward the squalling new year, you’ll hear
her last dirty old laugh with your eyes

open (none of your damn grace required), flinging
all that made the new gods whisper scarlet wanton

to the hot south wind, spreading fierce
naked claim and delight. Every path,

every last road out of here, it pants
with spent red. It’s so easy

to get weighed down trying to make light
for the whole family. Oh, it’s not what you give.

It’s what you leave,
it’s how.

The Pōhutukawa is the Aotearoa New Zealand “Christmas Tree”. This poem is by Ankh Spice. I find his work extraordinarily moving.

Ankh Spice is a sea-obsessed poet from Aotearoa (New Zealand). His poetry plays with natural imagery, environmentalism, identity, myth, magic, and mental health, and insists on being written despite him. It’s surprised him continuously over the last year and a half by being published almost a hundred times, mostly in countries far away from his beloved island coastlines. Two of his poems have been nominated for Pushcarts and two others for Best of the Net. He’s a co-editor at Ice Floe Press and a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine, and was a guest reader for the Deep Time edition of Black Bough Poetry this year. If he’s not out running and brewing poems by the Pacific, you might find him online, talking in flat Kiwi vowels about poetry and goats, surrounded by his sea photography and macro shots of weeds and flowers.Twitter: @SeaGoatScreamsFacebook: @AnkhSpiceSeaGoatScreamsPoetrySoundcloud poetry readings: https://soundcloud.com/user-448322296 Linktree: https://linktr.ee/SeaGoatScreamsPoetry At the time of writing this, he’s working on far too many collections of poems at once, recording more audio and video readings of his work (because people bafflingly seem to enjoy them) and getting nervous about his second feature poet slot at Cheltenham Poetry Festival. He’s also attempting to write his first CNF for a solicited publication, and sitting on a couple of exciting but as-yet-secret poetry-related announcements, one for later this year and one for 2021.