Tuesday Poem: poems from Slip Stream by Paula Green

Monday, 11th October, 2010

I am thrilled to be able to show you not just one poem this week but a suite of poems from Paula Green's newly launched collection of poetry Slip Stream (Auckland University Press, 2010). These are the first four pieces of the book, which "tells a personal story of breast cancer, from an initial mammogram to biopsy, operations, radiotherapy treatment and recovery. The poems chart time passing and seasons turning by procedures done, books read, appointments made, food cooked and dreams dreamed." 

I'm just going to let the poems speak for themselves, then tell you to rush out and buy the book. To read more Tuesday Poems visit the hub.


Slip Stream by Paula Green











She drifts in the slipstream

of the slim margin.























Sometimes she worries that she is not worried.

She is very calm. Like the white page before she begins writing

or the water in the cat’s bowl.

She wonders if she should yell at passing cars.

Or get wild and pull out all the weeds along the grass verge.

She just wants to get on with things.























On the first day (a lifetime ago) a diagram

is sketched to show where she is and she hears

good news (she will be cut to be cured)

although she is suspicious of the fat gape

between medical jargon and English verbs.



How to drive out into the world?

In the organic shop she thinks she is hallucinating,

the organic produce produces streams of organic colour

that match the organic voice from behind the inorganic counter.

Nothing feels solid enough to walk upon,

but she takes her apples and pears to the inorganic car

trying not to fall through organic space

or slip through to another universe.






















They fly to Queenstown but she has to bear

the weight of a phone call mid-air

(‘ninety-five per cent of women

in your shoes have nothing

to worry about’). Privately,

she laughs at her small collection of footwear,

mostly Chucks, and the way numbers seem to fall

like shooting stars and picture books

on the bright side,

according to the oncologist.

She is used to off-road driving and the weakness

of chance. They drive for hours through pillars of rocks

the burnt horizon a sleepy distraction.


It’s not a deep-seated worry,

just a flutter of the imagination.












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This is a treat, Helen, thank you. And thank you to Paula for generously sharing these new poems. I will buy the book now, enchanted by the tone - the calm that is not calm, the flutter of the imagination at the edge of dreadfulness. The awful feeling of slippage when things are no longer anchored. I love this line 'She just wants to get on with things'. The ordinariness of that.