John Geraets – RIVERSPELL17:low tide

Geraets LE P&W April

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Live Encounters Aotearoa New Zealand Poets & Writers April 2023

RIVERSPELL17: low tide, poem by John Geraets

RIVERSPELL17: low tide

The woman in the dinghy leaves puddles of radiating circles in the paddles’ wake, not recoverable. Combating the same forces, a kingfisher returns to the rock it had quitted moments earlier, shaping a U in the air. This tide is designated ‘low’, although that word has other applications, as in either/or. Meanwhile, the trunks of various riverside trees are festooned with colourful doilies and wool hangings, fair return on a season of ruddy pōhutukawas. A young dog wants to chase the kayakers on the river but is restrained by the tethering rope its master grips. Who mentions a ‘play of strings’, musical or otherwise? Beethoven’s Große Fuge complicates the demeanor of things.

The daisies Karen has placed in a Japanese vase on our windowsill are seen leaning over the path below Annette’s residence. Still-red blackberries and orange montbretia share the sloping bank. I see a blackbird sitting on someone’s letterbox, and earlier, elsewhere, a threesome of ducks frolicking bottoms-up in the ebbing tide. Where are they now? How characterise good and ill according to place & time? The blackbird has no choice but to maintain balance. The ducks—a collective—has little choice but to measure the world. How does this man know shit? Trust him—

© John Geraetes

John Geraets lives in Whangārei, Aotearoa-New Zealand. His Everything’s Something in Place appeared from Titus Books in 2019. He edits the online remake, the latest issue of which is available at

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