Birthday card from Berlin

It’s raining. How appropriate. My midwinter birthday is very weather conscious. I’ve even had snow on my birthday (when we lived in Northern Southland.) Which is the Southern Hemisphere equivalent of a white Christmas, if you get my drift – pun intended. 25th December? 25th June? And I’m sure storms, wind and sun as well. Too many to remember. I earned the distinction a few years back now of birthday cakes with enough candles to require one finger on the dial ready to call the fire engine.

A lovely birthday pot plant present from my friend Kathy

To add to the glamour, it’s my book launch day today for Upturned, my fourth poetry collection.

Diary cover

This year so far has been a momentous one. Let’s hope the second half calms down a little and some really good things happen. We in Aotearoa / New Zealand are celebrating being out of Level 4 Lockdown. We are now in Level One, with no community outbreak of a second wave of Covi. So far. Fair to say we are all holding our (communal) breath.

There has been quite the palaver at the country’s borders with a some people being allowed out of quarantine before being tested. Badly managed controls. A lot of people are seething about this. Having a general election in November is no doubt helping the pot to get well and truly stirred.

A longtime friend’s name at the top and bottom of this Council street lid. Also a word that could stand for my daughter’s name and Mum in the middle. The 124 number also symbolic of some recent good news. My shoes and my granddaughter’s claiming the ground we stand on. Symbols and good luck charms.

I opt for a reasoned approach. For fairness, not blame. I am concerned, yes, but not complaining. I just feel so damn grateful. (After all, for example, I can have my book launch). It’s back to coffee with friends and praying that there will be no community outbreak. After two weeks of no cases, we in our country have had some new cases of infection from citizens returning from overseas (hereby the reason for much grumpiness from media and politicians from the opposition.) Thankfully all cases so far are from people who are in isolation; in quarantine.

Moss finding the cracks in concrete

My thoughts go out to the rest of the world who are still negotiating the invisible minefield of a major pandemic. I am guessing Covid 19 is a practice run for more global pandemics in the future. The scientists (microbiologists etc.) have been warning us for a number of years that this is a likely scenario.

Moss on a tree trunk
Charm bracelet – black keeper added today …

Birthday rock
The day has dawned mossy,
mist-silver with rain, bird
song, the sound of a wind chime
stirred slow — a teaspoon
hitting the side of a china cup.
The silent wheeling
of our neighbour
at the bottom of the driveway

filling his wheelbarrow
from a quarry face
of truck-delivered yellow
pine, wearily trundling it all
into his garage. Crumpets
toasted one side only, upturned
for my breakfast, golden
syrup seeping into sponge.

And best of all, a small, round,
black rock shining, a shell freshly gathered,
a black doughnut
(the centre will hold!) a wheel,
a planet, an orb, a black star.

A lucky charm, a birthday gift
for me to discover upon
awakening, left by you for me
to attend. To pick up. To place.
I do love my black rock. My life. You.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

*Craggan Dhu means black rock and is the name of my novel that is at present, quietly, making its appearance mostly under the radar in order to leave the limelight for my poetry book, Upturned.
*Today (June 25th) is not only my birthday, but also my book day. Upturned is being launched tonight, University Bookshop, Dunedin 5.30. All welcome. (If you want to Zoom in, I have the password … contact me kmckcooke @ gmail . com — without spaces — and I will give it to you.)


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

5 thoughts on “Charm

  1. Well a very happy birthday to you! And congratulations on the launch of your fourth book! I hope you had a marvellous day and the launch goes well this evening.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. NZ has done an extraordinary job in containing COVID-19. Yes, there have been a few blips recently in relation to the quarantining of returnees, but here in the UK we’d gladly tolerate that in exchange for eliminating community transmission. Please can you lend us Jacinda for a couple of months? We could let you have Boris in return, but only on condition that you keep him 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amusing reply! Thank you. Rather than feeling smug re our lucky state, we feel concerned for the rest of the world and hoping & praying everything turns the right way up as soon as possible. There are still enough good people I believe to keep the balance right. Take care over there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much Leonie. Everything went really well. My birthday got a little submerged by the waves from the launch, but that was perfectly okay by me. It was a magic day.

    Liked by 1 person

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