We were looking for the lights. The Botanic Gardens turned showy with crystal growths in branches and flower colours on trees in the dimming evening. People bloomed in beds, listening as music squashed birds and bees.
When the swarms moved off we stayed a little, watched the last children burst up for bubbles. And John led us down a dark path to see something rare, unknown, as we were warned in the distance of gates closing.
There, we struck out our oblong shines to meet the quiet fluorescence of ancient creatures all around. Their constellations glowed from old banks by the way, by the tinkling stream, matched by real stars high, on the dark blue, beyond silhouetted nikau and kouka.
As if to smile at us. As if to remind us to wonder.
Joan Norlev Taylor is a New Zealander of Anglo-Danish heritage. Her writing (prose and poetry) is wide-ranging, spanning diverse genres, and has been published in the UK, USA and New Zealand. Her most recent novel, Napoleon’s Willow, appeared in 2016 (with RSVP, Auckland). She has written two other novels: Conversations with Mr. Prain (New York: Melville House, 2006; reissued with a new cover and reading group questions, 2011) and kissing Bowie (London: Seventh Rainbow, 2013). She is currently working on her first poetry collection.