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Riemke Ensing, New Zealand
Riemke Ensing is a Poet who has distinctively synthesized European and New Zealand influences. Born in Groningen, Netherlands, she arrived in New Zealand in 1951. In 1977 she edited the first New Zealand Anthology of women poets "Private Gardens" (1977). Her reputation as poet and scholar has grown, especially with three books published in 1995: "Dear Mr Sargeson", written in homage after visiting Frank Sargeson's Cottage; "Like I have seen the dark green ladder climbing", a response to paintings by Eion Stevens; and "Gloria-in-Excelsis", an edition of the poetry of Gloria Rawlinson. Ensing's latest book is "Talking Pictures: Selected Poems" (2000) which includes her best poetry from 1984 to 2000.
Riemke has just been awarded the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship for part of 2002. She is currently in residence at the Sargeson Centre.
The migrant returned to New Zealand again
for Sophia van Delden at 75

"without stirring abroad, you can see the whole world.
Without looking out the window you can see the way to heaven."
- Lao Tzu

After all the journeys
starting and departing and beginning
again, you are here on another passage
finally in your own harbour
at home, the sea also
a creature of arrivals
always on the move
living with stories
and seasons
ageless in memory
where all time is now
and shelter
an open space

Fisherman at Castlecliff

'Like jogging on the spot,' he reckons,
pulling his skiff into the breakers.
An arctic explorer on a sledge
disappearing into that shook silver
blueness. A longline barbed with hooks
wedged in the bow. It runs
towards Easter. Three gulls cry overhead.
Their flight writing the signs of the cross.
In the distance Taranaki
watches in silence.
Already it has seen too much.


This blue has nothing to do with darkness.
It is Arabian nights remembered from childhood,
the sky watching the Nile in fairy tales.
It is mystery of mountains
so far out of reach and high they can only be imagined
dwelling in deeply dark waters
lambent with passion angels revere. In their light
gold mantles of blue they enter now
the magic imaginings
floating between sea and sky - that space
where all the world's blues
sing electric.

Blue Window

To hold the sky
in your hand for just one moment
as though your heart would break.
All that devotional blue
swirling the 'Oh!' out of breath
promising such a morning

roofs of mosques
stretching their azure curves

a mountain
startled into purity -

in these heavenly vapours
of air.

Always the knife

glinting on the blue table.
Ghosts coming to wound
in poems writing themselves
as fragments of pasts
that are never other than now

putting the point
to that hollow where life pulses.

The sky Tiepolo blue
but clouds out of focus
feathered with rain.
Small consolations.

Waitakere River Valley
for Derek March - painter


Lost, you say, the songs of the forest
where the light never shone and listen
to the wind remembering adventures
through trees smothered in liana.

See how the water flits over stones
and all the colours of darkness suddenly
speaking. The currents swirling
in great swathes of sound.
Clouds make a choir
rolling their sadness through a sky
heavy with rain and mist.

Where the sea curves and breaks in land
spirits roam in the drift of waiata
shivering through bones of trees
dank with grief.


Hill hunker down and slide
into the bellies of eels excavating
sites older than winds finding no resting
place in the remembered past.
Silver slips into the light
clouds glimpse flowing through water
searching out landscapes
furrowed with sorrow and loss.

Morning Glory

The neighbour's out
with his binoculars.
He's having a good time
watching the birds.
This one's in the shower.
I lean out to open the window
wider. Let out the steam. His.
I wave. My boobs dance delighted
with such abundance. He fumbles
to adjust his focus. I shout him
joy of the world.

All works copyright Riemke Ensing