Flight into the Unknown (poem)

Ruru (aka Morepork)

Flight into the Unknown

i.m. Gertrude Fisher


old ruru

standing guard


over our totara

it is ending –


fly through

the tall forest


to wherever

it leads…


as you finally



crying mokopuna

surround you



Joanne Fisher


This is sort of a complete rewrite of an older poem. To anyone who isn’t a New Zealander/Aotearoan I may need to explain some words: Ruru (also known as a Morepork) is a native owl. Totara is a native tree that grows very tall. It has very dense wood, thick stringy bark, and needle-like leaves. Mokopuna is the Maori word for grandchildren. One of my favourite Maori words.

This is a poem about my grandmother who died a few years ago now. She collected owl figurines, and so I always saw her as an owl, though some in the family called her Mouse (which I didn’t)…

I’ve deliberately used some Maori symbolism here (though my grandmother was of Irish-German descent). Rurus in Maori mythology were seen as guardians with powers to protect and advise. The totara symbolises life and growth, and also social solidarity, though in this poem I’ve extended it to mean family.





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©2020 Joanne Fisher



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