Autumn Voices says welcome to Gerrie Fellows. Gerrie has this to say about herself:

I got hooked on language early. Shakespeare, my dad reciting Coleridge: I loved the music before I fully understood the meanings. And the English language, subtly altered, crossed the big divide in my life – the move when I was eight from New Zealand to London. At 18, I opted for art school but once I'd left, I set out to be a poet – stumbling about in dark, finding my voice. I moved to Glasgow in 1983, began to meet other writers, met my husband (a climber and journalist) and in 1990 had my first book published.

I had always felt at home in Scotland. It was here I found the open spaces that seemed essential to life but the self-questioning of the 1980s and 90s made me look at my own identity and fed into my second book, The Powerlines. In the mid-nineties I had IVF, an experience which knit together body and science and became my third book, Window for a Small Blue Child. While our daughter was small I taught part-time and the poems accrued slowly: poems of family life which appear in The Body in Space.

Now I have lived in Scotland much longer than in England or New Zealand. In my mid-sixties, I have a sense that the world is looking elsewhere but I continue to write. Uncommon Place, a collection of poems about walking, was published this year. Time has long since begun to appear in my poems and yet there's time now to be immersed in place.


The Night Maps

the plane lifts
We are a small independent nation
(the bird creature raises its wings)
the multiple lights of the airfield fall away
into midnight beside the Manukau
We are aswim on the southern surface of the globe
Auckland ablaze and still talking to itself
on Bell Atlantic and Ameritech
The Capital of the South Pacific
its global signs
KPMG Peat Marwick Minolta IBM

diminish beyond us eating
into the dark star of the pumicelands
woodpulp stacked on the wharves
and wrapped in night along the fronds of coast
the black stain of the Tarawera
its bouquet of foaming ponds
by Fletcher Challenge
and the lifeline of a river
brought to you from the nub of an island
steel hearts pumping it into power
into Auckland ablaze and carrying a torch
for Aiwa BP Citibank
We raise a jug
to Mobil Price Waterhouse Elders IXL
We are a small independent nation

The plane slides into thinning troposphere
South of us a woman twists on her bed
and the ponies snort in the paddock
The country dreams in the backbeat of the dams
and a bird creature raises its wings over
the tumble of a harbour the buried cables
of the Cook Strait Link
the cropped vineyards
the Mount Hutt ski field
picture-postcard alps blanked out by night
the plains where Fran sleeps dreaming of grandmotherhood
toward the blood of Aramoana
the smokescreen of the Alcan smelter
The spun melody of the powerlines
30,000 gigawatt hours per annum
cradles the sleepers
stirs the small furred animals, the heavy cattle
and at the margin of a stand of bush
a morepork bright eye alert in leafcurl

This is Farewell

Now you will enter
the night maps the unknown
formations of crystal

Over the Pacific the constellations will rise
a solemn mirror
to the ocean's hidden phosphorescence
fire-encrusted slip

over the equator in their Greek names
towards the daylit miles of tundra
and magnetic north

from The Powerlines, Polygon (2000)

A Map Showing Interior Space

She must entrust herself
again to their gloved hands give up
consciousness and speech
her heavy body: a heavenly body
afloat on a screen a map
showing uterine fundus Fallopian tube
ovary pierced by an aspirating needle
each membrane each blood-tangled lining
punctured each oocyte dehisced
into a fluid whisper of pale honey
retrieved from what lost place
as if the gynaecologist gathered them
to the lab’s glass follicles from empty space

Seven oocytes afloat in their bubbled glass
those that were visible and those
that were hidden
beyond the ultrasound’s blind echoes
folded in the body
of the woman who wakes now
The sun, she sees, falls on the windowsill
on a lily in a vase
on an aspirator in a gloved hand
on the glass that flows in the frame
They are playing catch as catch can
the oocytes in their medium
with what might be in a cupped glass

from Window for a Small Blue Child, Carcanet (2007)

The Miraculous World

From a bothy
spun around a pole odd tree
in a place without wood
its sills, shells its windows
onto water and the cliff
where our men lean outward
roped over waves

she watches her father climb
through the sheared air
holds him in her sight
out over the dark all I saw of the minke
triangular fins of coasting sharks
the gannets’ dive the explosion
that comes to us across the water

At the end of his route
he’ll show her a pinioned boulder
triangle of air she might
step through: we’ll hold her
in the net of our observation unroped
in a place sheeny with quartz and salt
that slants away

to the waves’
white rushing and falling back
the sharks’ dark fins
the ballet of gannets
their light bones their perfectly
aerodynamic skulls diving into
all around us
the miraculous world

from The Body in Space, Shearsman (2014)

A Measure
(on Creag Mac Rànaich)

In bright cold we notch up
a rusted tally the wire's lost measure
over knolled and shoaling snow

The only players here
ravens coasting on the wind's
boundaryless transparence

and bolting, distant deer
their lace of hooves cut sharp as tin

Our tracks are pinned
on water frozen in the shape of a wave
diviners' rods cast to the wind

a compass invisible
except as a quill of bird or snow

The weather's inkling
vitrified to blades of ice
shivers with a ring
higher and lighter than glass

The lop-sided fence posts magnify
in gaps and angles the odd

human certainties
that set them there resonant

Salmon Nets and the Sea
(after Joan Eardley)

A trailer, tipped up identifier
by nets stretched to black frames, lit vermilion
a yellow flicker out of browns wheeling into gunmetal
as gulls might do inhabiting a band of foam and grit
a hurled transforming density of being

The nets are lines flying across the field of vision
into the creamy spill and drip of ocean
sucked back to a blue deeper than translucence
petrol and the sky oily dark
(and the wheeling invisible gulls)

yet nothing of steel
in the lowering spray, the flung moisture I stand in
cut by particles of the minute invisible and indivisible
self dispersed and coalescing
a bodily coherence in the grit and oil of matter

from Uncommon Place, Shearsman (2019)