Miss Bowerman and the hot water bottles
‘Tiny maids are strongest,’ the housekeeper said
when my mother was interviewed for Government House.
‘She looks too small to lift a mouse’
but for screwing on Royal hot water bottles she was queen.
The thought of a flooded bed was too much
for any major-domo to bear. ‘Fetch Miss Bowerman
and let her apply her wrists, child-sized,
to the bladder of near-boiling water
to warm the sheets, the vice-regal feet
or rest against the spine that stood
bored and rigid in a receiving line
and listened all night to boring speeches.’
Next morning she was called again
to undo the work of her marvellous wrists.
‘Miss Bowerman, can you let out the water?’
from Night Horse
(Auckland University Press)
Writer and prolific poet Elizabeth Smither has published numerous novels, books of short stories and poetry collections. Her wealth of awards is too extensive to list, but includes the Montana New Zealand Book Award for Poetry (2000), Te Mata Poet Laureate (2002) and Sarah Broom Prize for Poetry (2016). In 2004 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and was awarded an honorary DLitt from the University of Auckland for her contributions to literature. Smither is also a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in poetry. She lives in Taranaki.
Elizabeth Smither’s Choice: ‘Almost a Buddhist’’ by Rob Hack