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BooksJuly 27, 2018

The Friday Poem: ‘Night time words to Ruby’ by Elizabeth Smither


New verse by the winner of the 2018 Ockham New Zealand national book award prize for poetry, Elizabeth Smither.


Night time words to Ruby


I hold you in my arms and say

beautiful girl, beautiful girl.


You do not want to go to bed: instead

you say you’re instructed to lie between


your mother and father like a bolster

and wait for them to slide inside.


I see the fresh sheets and the pillows

the throw laid diagonally across


the quiet dark against the curtains

the hush of a lamp: intimacy after


someone’s wedding party. Your bunk

seems so high, aloof as a tower


and later when I check on you you’ve

half disrobed and put on your sleep mask


the duvet is slewed across your body.

Beautiful girl, beautiful girl in your tower


not far from the ceiling which you could reach.

I am bringing something I do not know


down to you in my embrace. An angel’s

wingtip, the first air movement of


a visitation of coming and forever grace.

Beautiful girl, beautiful girl.


Elizabeth Smither, 2018

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