by Christopher Ruthe


Oh happy day

Oh happy day

That Edward stole my heart away.

 

A septuagenarian  (called Septo For the purposes of this poem).

Looking youthful for his age

And with a glint in his eye

Espied me

As I laid bored in a box

With nephews nieces brothers sisters

All iridescent yellow balls.

Not just any balls

But tennis balls.

So large

We were for giants really.

And of us all, Septo

Picked me.
Lifting me gently out

He paid a lady to set me free

From the box in the store.

I rode in the front seat of Septo’s car

So smooth the ride.

So lucky not to be

Dumped in the truck.

Once home I knew That something special

Was about to be.

I shook my coat

So I really shined.

Then I was sensitively wrapped

In non colonial wrapping

To make me full of well-being.

(Septo told me his friend Jacinda told him it was so).

A while later

I heard a scratching

And a pulling

And out I burst of my well being wrap.

To see a young lad

Who introduced himself as Edward.

Having spent months

At Labour Parties

(Not Birthday parties)

I came to love the name of Edward.

And I knew the joy of fondling

The high spirited bouncing

The balancing

And even the little kicking.

And Edward said he loved me

So.

I was a happy happy ball

Maxed out on well-being

Jacinda, Septo’s friend’s, favourite phrase.

Then Edward was called in.

Suddenly the balancing and bouncing stopped.

All was silent.

Where had my lovely Edward gone?

I heard from inside the house

Laughter and cheers

A jolly good time

Being had by all.

 

And where was I?

The former belle of the ball?

Stuck in a garden.

Sitting in blood and bone

And coffee grinds

And sheep poo pellets.

Forsaken.

Forgotten.

Like at a Labour Party

My well-being

No longer important.

And as the rain comes down

As the gale screams

As a kindly ball I still say

Happy Birthday

To my Edward.

Will you remember my well-being.

And not the Party’s?

“This poem was inspired in part by He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction [2018]. It blames colonialization for mental health illness, promises prevention of mental health issues and sets out the formula for permanent well-being in NZ.

“It is also a story of the child’s response to a gift in the 21st century, raising the question of what is genuine ‘well-being’.”

Happy Ball Sad Ball