they try to return to paradise

they try to return to paradise
as pilgrims and move gin-clear water
with scallop shells to open
the small intestine of the Mass
the priest seems wingless

when the fishing is good
some pilgrims get lost
in the mountains to hide
their ashes or cut expensive labels
off their robes to improve conditions

others attach oars and lanterns
to stolen coffins
to confirm their arrival


as pilgrims you will be given

as pilgrims you will be given
3 days’ notice of miracles

certain free gifts
include the chance
to see wrong

in the village
the praying Moor
is already fasting

he has the ear of a rabbit
and the base of a bird

reverse fold your hands
like this or this
to receive your travel instructions


the godwits’s son

left the world
in a feather bag

he left his cottage
his horse at the window
the warm wishes of snow

he left chimneys of willow
the dark voices
of dry stone flagstone

he left his mother
the whiskey maker
unable to drink

and with hundreds of others
slept as he flew
and flew as he slept
to where he was




[Kerrin is a poet and teacher of creative writing. She completed the Victoria University Original Composition Programme taught by Bill Manhire in 1976. Her poems have appeared in many journals including Hue & Cry, JAAM, The Listener, Poetry NZ, Sport, Takahe, Turbine, The London Grip, Snorkel and The Press, as well as Best NZ Poems 08, 09, 10 and 12, and in The Best of the Best New Zealand Poems. In 2008 she was awarded the New Zealand Post Creative Writing Teachers’ award from the Institute of Modern Letters. Her debut poetry collection three days in a wishing well was published by Victoria University Press in 2012. A selection of her poems will appear in Oxford Poets 2013 from Carcanet Press later this year.]

Copyright © 2013 by Kerrin P. Sharpe, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.