Chris Parsons


Before Matins

Sailing over smoothly ironed
asphalt cloth,
sheets out to the wind,
she descends.
Comes down
from her front steps
to extravagantly sweep
glittering doilies
of broken glass,
and carefully rearrange
the polished silver
of gas containers,
like tiny scuba tanks.
Mrs. Patterson is setting
the sidewalk
After washing the world,
she’ll be ascending,
in watercolor auras,
for an early morning tea
of absolution.



They said it
was a ‘Cloud of Unknowing’.
All I knew was lost
anxiety swirling
in chest cavity, echoing like childhood caverns. Toes feeling
for grasping tussocks,
for the patient  undulations of the ground, folding
away beneath  my blind feet.
No shelters on the shrouded mountain top,
no-where to put an ear to ground, to listen
for reassuring murmurs of mechanized things.
Noses sharp with the freshness
of moisture and wash of dung and sea air hanging
in the unseeing mist.
They said it was like a
‘Beatific Vision’.
But when the light came,
I startled like a forest beast
and missed the anonymity of cloud.
All I saw,
in the squinting brilliance
of tears in the shredded mist,
was a familiar house, come full circle,
warm with knowledge,
waiting at the end of the valley.



Chris Parsons taught English as a second language in Japanese Colleges and Universities for six years and now works as a psychologist in schools. He has had a poem published in Snorkel #1 and was a finalist in a city competition for sonnets in Christchurch where he lives with his family, writing poetry when he should be doing other things. Of the present poems, Chris writes: “The pioneering American Psychologist William James once wrote “Compared to what we ought to be, we are half awake.” ‘Descending’ and ‘Before Matins’ try to capture what can sometimes be dimly glimpsed through the morning-eyed fog of the mundane and everyday. In this case wandering over the Banks Peninsula hills in the former poem or imagining an artist I knew as a child cleaning up the street in the latter.”