Jilly O’Brien

Jilly O’Brien is a Dunedin poet and psychologist. She has had poems published in The Spinoff, the Otago Daily Times, Blackmail Press, anthologies such as Bread & Roses (UK) and Penguin Days and Ice Diver (NZPS), as well as being part of the Dunedin heritage project, resulting in a poem etched into one of the benches in the warehouse precinct. She recently won the Robert Burns poetry competition 2017/8


My Engagement ring belonged to my mother

and her mother
and her mother’s father
as a tie pin.
Nobody asked how he got the diamond,
a Cornish coachman
riding country lanes, blind bends
– buddleia, butterflies, blackbird eggs –
he knew it well, the
hedgerow’s stony heart.

The setting is old
high and proud.
It catches on your clothes
causing a run or a pull.
It hits a table
glances off a wall,
that sort of thing,
and torques the finger.
I had it strung on a chain for a while.

When I’m running
– and I’m often running –
I twist it round
so the stone faces the ground
and can’t be seen
from the air.
Then I turn my palm face up,
cupping the diamond

like it was a little cockerbully
I found in a rockpool.