Maris O'Rourke, a pākehā New Zealander, attended a poetry course with Siobhan Harvey in 2008 and that was it. She decided to ditch her consulting work for the World Bank and write fulltime. Since then her poems and stories have been published in NZ and international journals and she has published a collection of poetry Singing With Both Throats and two children's books with Claudia Pond Eyley in their Lillibutt series.
Sometimes I wake and look up to Ruapehu’s five peaks, tinged with sunrise pink, and know it will be a perfect blue day where I’ll ski my feet off. And at the end of the day, for the last run, I’ll go to the top of the Far West, traverse across to Black Magic, wait until the slopes are clear and ski towards the Tasman Sea, glittering sunset gold behind Taranaki, all the way to our hut.
Or sometimes I wake to a white-out, the mountain mysteriously cloaked and only there in my imagination, and my knees as I ski from memory, tilting my head back to suck snowflakes onto my tongue every time I pause to get my bearings.
And sometimes I walk down to the Chateau via the Whakapapaiti Hut lifting ice-panes entire from puddles and gazing through them to create sparkling icescapades of colours against the frosty ferns, twisted trees and clear, cold rivers.
Or sometimes I’ll stay in my bunk all day reading trashy novels (never literature) between naps until it’s ‘five o’clock somewhere’ and time to get up for a glass or two of Glühwein ’glow-wine’ by the fire.
And sometimes, on the right day, I’ll climb to the top of Tahurangi or Te Heu Heu or Paretetaitonga to have lunch at the Crater Lake and ski the Whakapapa Glacier all the way back to our hut by evening.
I’ve asked my sons in a poem to scatter my ashes up there with a karakia and then have a Steinlager with a bacon, onion and Marmite sandwich the way we always do.
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Deborah thanks Rangimarie Kelly and Pikau Digtal for website design and artist Karen Jarvis for her image ‘Writers at the Devonport Library,’ (2023)