After efforts to persuade the editor of the Friday poem, Ashleigh Young, to run a new work by poet Ashleigh Young in the series proved unsuccessful, The Spinoff Review of Books is launching ‘The Monday poem’. Here we present Turn Out to Be Something by Ashleigh Young from her brand new collection How I Get Ready.
Turn Out to Be Something
I can wait! I can vanish from the fossil record
for twenty-five million years, as long as an amateur fossil hunter
someday finds a large and puzzling chunk of my jaw.
I can wait to become a writer
only to turn out to be a small writer
with stubby wings and a feathery appearance.
I can wait for someone to collect me from the sickbay when I’m five,
wait so long I’ll be fully recovered and grown when they come.
I can wait for a layer of sandstone to form over me
and freeze and thaw and freeze and be shattered
and be piped into the sea as long
as that turns out to be something.
Each minute moves in a slightly different rhythm
to the others, like tiny flowers rippling at high altitude
or heads gathered around an archeological dig.
I can wait hours for the plane to come in
only for it to land and someone else’s dad to get out.
Definitely another New Zealand dad, but with
different colouration, different call. I’m still waiting
and that’s something
though it might also be nothing.
When you say kererū I can wait for you to realise you mean kākā
only for you to carry on for the rest of your life
saying kererū when you mean kākā.
I can wait for the unkind person to turn out to be unhappy
wait for them to ask forgiveness and then
punch someone new in the throat and ask forgiveness again.
I can wait, as long as forgiveness is withheld.
I can wait at the table until my hunger turns me
into a barnacle searching for space on an overpopulated hull.
I can wait to behold the great alien snowscape
only for it to be a pile of weevily flour on the floor.
I can wait as long as it still turns out to be something.
I can wait at the bottom of the crevasse with you
as long as the glacier shrinks back someday and we are found.
I can spend all the livelong day patting a dog that turns out to be a coyote.
I can wait years for news of a bizarre specimen washed up on the beach
only for it to turn out to be a person.
I can wait, as long as they turn out to be known to somebody.
I can wait for as long as I live, only to die
as long as this turns out to be something.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.