Guest Poem by JanFitzGerald

Jan FitzGerald (b.1950) is a long established NZ poet with publication in all mainstream NZ literary journals and several overseas including The London Magazine, Acumen and Orbis. Jan has been shortlisted twice in the Bridport Poetry Prize and has three poetry books published and a fourth coming out in July 2022.

The Warning

A hi-vis hangs from a billboard across the road,
flashing in the wind like a warning
against an invisible enemy.
No one’s claimed it
though it’s been there for days.

I retreat to the back of the house to make bread.
Maybe some kid will yank the vest down
while I’m watching yeast bubbles rise
and lumps of butter skid around the bottom of the pan
like tiny dodgem cars.

If I roll silky dough around the breadboard
and knead it with vigour,
dusting myself off before easing it into the oven,
maybe I’ll think of that painting by Jean-François Millet
of a woman in a head scarf guiding dough
into a bricked hole in the wall –
and I’ll be thinking long enough
in a way that’s actually not thinking,
to forget the hi-vis billowing in the wind
as if a man had slipped clean out of it

and how people are disappearing