The Friday Poem: ‘The New York Public Library’ by Paula Green

New verse by west Auckland writer Paula Green, who was awarded the Prime Minister’s award for poetry this week and pockets $60,000.


The New York Public Library


Josephine stands outside The New York Public Library like a scarecrow

and gapes at the Grecian urns, the guardian lions glaring from

plinths. Really, she is looking into portable worlds

but she stands frozen on the other side of the zebra

crossing, reluctant to leave the sunlight of Fifth Avenue

the sight of a red bicycle chained to a post, the pedestrians

walking in step to the sound track of a movie—

a Woody Allen, perhaps Annie Hall.


If she goes into The New York Public Library (but she doesn’t, she hasn’t)

Josephine might sit in a secret corner and out of the anarchy of thought

—the foreign hurdles, the clackety world—devise an elaborate form

to lodge her own voice (doubting, doubtful) before unearthing the poetry

section and picking a book by Louise Glück, so marvellous

in paradox and revelation. When Louise writes a poem, or so she says, she wants

it to be as though she is seeing the world for the first time.

Every poem is pulling back the curtains while buttering the toast.


From New York Pocket Book by Paula Green (Seraph Press, $25)

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