The rapture of Survival: A collage of post-Waitangi mundane delights

The rapture of Survival: A collage of post-Waitangi mundane delights

Lois realises in her list of delights, there are no mundane tasks. Is she lazy? Possibly. Probably. She is surrounded by people who excel at the domestic. Lois prefers to document the domestic.

It's a real collage this Wednesday. Lois has been reading Mary Oliver's Devotions and boy, it shows:

Waitangi 2024

And there is that feeling returning --
of relief, of ease

But something else, too
Wild delight

My daughter's bedroom door cracks open
Her footfall in the hall

an echo of morning's blush, now
She's standing beside me - taller

And we hug like it's been so, so many years
Not merely a night

184 miles on this wrecked road
Yet here we are. Tītī hearts still thrumming

Tucked under her wing
As a new sun heaves high

And there's that unmistakeable feeling again*
Delight; the rapture of survival.

Then Lois' friend Nadia shared a book with her, Ross Gay's Book of Delights, and it's been pretty much downhill from there.

Sometimes it is impossible
to separate my gratitude from my sorrow.

Sometimes you have to have every last thing
ripped out of your hands
to see how wide you can throw them

And separate conversations too, with Jess and Luis, about appreciation for the mundane:

From my poem a day journal

Jess admits that, in the catalogue of mundane, she loves to wash dishes, especially pottery. She likes to admire things well made, the grit of things that have come from the earth, the beauty of function. She also likes to sweep hard floors, the marvel of dust and crumbs piling up in a corner, the transformation she has contributed her effort towards. Vacuuming could never compare.

Luis likes to chop vegetables. He describes what he loves and as Lois listens she sees his rapture and believes him. Lois hates chopping vegetables. She probably wouldn't even eat vegetables unless someone else chopped them. The exception is vegetables straight from the garden. On Monday, her lover walked her through his ripe tomatoes and she ate every last one.

His expression chided her: he kino ake ki ngā manu, you're worse than the birds!

I remember the shape of him leaving before dawn
the slope of his shoulders crossing the kitchen
the creak of the old house's bones
beneath bare feet, the sound
of a bolt shifting across
my heart

Her mother likes to hang out the washing, but when Lois asks why, she frowns like this is not the science Lois thinks it is: "I don't like it, but someone's got to do it."

Lois asks her daughter: "What mundane things do you love?"

She replies: "folding my washing, tidying my room, making my bed, then getting into it."

Lois realises in her list of delights, there are no mundane tasks. Is she lazy? Possibly. Probably. She is surrounded by people who excel at the domestic. Lois prefers to document the domestic. She is an archivist of the ordinary:

List of delights this week

Bobbie's last first morning of school forever

Trying to catch a poem but losing it because I didn't have a pen (again)

Dreaming I was flying, Darren saying: "just hold on"

Noticing how everything feels poignant after midnight and before sunrise

Swimming at Titahi Bay and walking up the beach pretending I am am a character on Home and Away

The sound of Mum's knitting needles clacking while watching the news and her comment: "I think this is the first year I've really understood The Treaty. Do you think the English wrote it on parchment paper on purpose hoping the rats would eat it?"

All the Tangata Tiriti who turned out to march. Their passion. Their commitment. Their courage. Their willingness. Their loving support.

The fulfilment of prophecy. Fear dissipating. Anticipation rising. Relief + ease.

Stacey Morrison saying "partnership is about being better together" with a knowing wink and a grin; the cute little bow Scotty gave.

Realising that Ranginui Walker was right. Sex will save us in the end. Race relations will be resolved in the bedroom, one delightful orgasm at a time.

Crying, because life is sad and funny.

Lying on the grass in a puddle of shade, waiata drifting through the crowds, Lois realises that the delight she feels most often is the delight of not being anywhere else, especially not with the wrong man.

Over there, on the other side of Waitangi Park, her ex-husband's boat floats and Lois is not on it. A near miss. Practically a miracle. She wants to shriek and tell everyone.

Delight must therefore be the reward of faith. Of holding on through the thick of it, through the darkest nights, the loneliest nights.

Delight is arriving home to yourself when you didn't know how far you'd strayed.

Delight is a lover tracing pictures on your bare skin with a blade of grass in the shade of the hot hot sun, 184 years after someone tried to raze the possibility of this love.

Delight is, as only Mary Oliver could say it, both intimate and ultimate:

For one thing leads to another
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star
Both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful
And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two beautiful bodies of your lungs

From To begin with, The sweet grass by Mary Oliver

What are the mundane things you do every day that delight you? Can you make a catalogue? Try keeping a list, then turning it into a poem <3

*"And there's that feeling returning" - this line and this poem is mine, but I also feel like I've read those exact words somewhere else before. Perhaps they've lodged in my brain - could they be a Mary Oliver poem? I don't know! I can't find it, but if you know, if you hear the echo and recognise where it's from, can you enlighten me? All art is clearly imitation!!

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