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.