S  e  c  r  e  t  s    blackmail press 24
Helen Rickerby
New Zealand

Helen Rickerby lives in towerish house overlooking Wellington. Her first collection of poetry was Abstract Internal Furniture (HeadworX, 2001). Her second collection, My Iron Spine was published last year. She is co-managing editor of JAAM literary magazine, and runs a teeny-tiny publishing company, Seraph Press. She can often be found hanging out at http://wingedink.blogspot.com/.

Seraph Press: http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/seraphpress/
Winged Ink: http://wingedink.blogspot.com/

The wall

Ilsa Schmidt was
in particular
she sometimes
acted in the theatre, sometimes
waited tables at the club

She was an ordinary citizen
of the GDR

After the wall came down
Ilsa saw the twenty-four folders
of typed white pages of information collected
by the secret police

about who
she talked to, where she went
what she read

contributed by her workmates
neighbours, friends
her mother

the boyfriend who disappeared in the night

Her twenty-four folders
took up a small part
of a large shelf

which took up a small part
of an enormous building

filled wall-to-wall
with shelves of identical
black folders

that you could lie end-to-end and
they’d reach around the world
and if you piled them
on top
of the other
they would topple
and crush you

Ilsa was a suspicious person
a person under suspicion

She was known
to read dubious books
associate with intellectuals

Her subversive tendencies
were proven when she cheered
when she heard
on the radio
that it was all crashing down

She left her door
unlocked, rushing
to the wall

with joy and terror, she joined
the others

as they punched
and pushed and smashed
until they were all covered

with black folders
and  typed white pages
falling through the air

Lady Chatterley loves

She doesn’t need background
music to show it
The moss drips with anticipation
the daffodils are opening their blooms

The first time is unsatisfactory
The second time an improvement
their bodies still separate
they remove no clothes
they do not talk

Out of doors is best
and under a tree
kneeling over his lap
understanding crosses her face

Later, she is drenched by the rainstorm

She is a lady
he a miner’s son

But he knows how to warm the porcelain
spoon in
the right amount of tea
pour the just-boiled water
wait,               then tip
the teapot
without spilling a drop
Lying on her back
in the squelching mud
she is a wood nymph
She is laughing

He is laughing too

His years of silence have broken
they have learned to talk
their words come in rushes
stumble over each other, embrace
and roll and laugh together

He takes her to his
most intimate places:
his past,
his fears

This is the closest they have ever been

She asks ‘Will you come for me?’
He says ‘I will’