Tuesday Poem: “The Foreign Office” by Victoria Broome
The Foreign Office
for Judy and Roscoe
He had two great passions and one dream,
Mozart, The Great Wall and romance. In soft
morning light he rode out on a rented bicycle
to see the Great Wall. Smoke and steam rising,
the sound of air rushing through wheels on
the broken road. He felt the hard saddle, his feet
in the pedals, he felt hopeful.
The breeze coolly lifted the hair from his neck,
every now and then he turned to watch autumn
colours bleed and fade out in his trail, people
flowed past, their voices washed over him.
A river around an obstacle, a moment in time.
A young woman who would become his wife,
is travelling on a train to Peking, a very English
girl, with fine auburn hair and eyes like Audrey
Hepburn’s, she even has the same long swan neck.
( That was his memory, she was still unaware of herself.)
On the rocking train, in the vast landscape,
she is attempting to roll up the hair of her Chinese
girlfriend, it is a thick black mystery and hairpins
spring from it like coiled dragons.
It was an exotic world then, travelling through
the orient and the old silk road, eating apricots
in Persia. Life in the Foreign Office in the 1960’s.
They don’t meet yet, they are still travelling
towards their futures.
(c) Victoria Broome
Published in Flap: The Chook Book 2, 2010
About Victoria Broome
Victoria Broome works as a social worker in Older Persons Health in Christchurch, she has been writing since childhood but more seriously in recent years and was awarded the Louis Johnson Bursary from Creative New Zealand in 2005. She has been published in anthologies and a variety of New Zealand literary magazines and most recently in Flap – The Chook Book 2, which is the second anthology from a group of women writers called the Poetry Chooks. Victoria was an inaugural student at the Hagley Writers Institute and completed a two year course, 2008-09, with Tutors Fiona Farrell and Bernadette Hall and supervisor Frankie MacMillan. The manuscript completed over these two years, Big Red Engine, has just been shortlisted for the Kathleen Grattan Award.
Note: The other poets featured in Flap are Catherine Fitchett, Barbara McCartney and Christina Stachurski. I hope to being you a Tuesday poem from each of them over the next few weeks.
The poem I shall let speak for itself, which it does eloquently, I feel.