“Otherwhere” is a play of/on words inspired by “Otherwise”, a poem by New Zealand poet Cilla McQueen. The poem – with two people separated by distance – is all about things being “otherwise”, opposites, inverted from the normal, unexpected in contrast to what one is used to. Although “Otherwise” never specifies what kind of relationship the two people in it have, it reflects the reality of long-distance relationships, of the nomadic experience, of global migration and living elsewhere from something/somewhere that you are connected to and have left behind.
from an opposite country
to yours, where water spirals
and the moon waxes
my stars assemble in unfamiliar patterns and I watch often
not traffic or television
but hour by hour the huge tide
absently fingering rocks and small shells and the wet brown kelp
where fish go sliding through.
if you were with me now
on my favourite beach
we’d watch the distant seismograph
of silver peaks darkening to indigo
and walk on the breakwater
towards the harbour mouth,
disturbing the flocks of terns
that wheel up shrieking in slim wild voices to land again behind us
renewing their conference. I would slip my cold hand in your pocket,
you’d look at me and grin
and we would walk together quietly
right to the very end,
where big chained rocks hold back
the same Pacific ocean, lumbering in.
From: McQueen, Cilla. Axis: Poems and Drawings. Otago University Press: 2001. You can get this brilliant collection of poems and drawings here.