Monday, 1 September 2014


Holly Edgecombe

I was born in Tauranga in 1982. My parents were made aware in the following year that I had been born with some sort of neuro-muscular disorder (type never known) which affected all my muscles including those of speech.

At the age of five I travelled with my parents to Hungary, the first New Zealand child to attend the Pető Institute for Conductive Education. Within a few months at the Pető Institute I was able to stand and walk for the first time in my life.

Since that time I have learned to do many other things including using a computer, which has proved to be invaluable in helping me to express myself. I have enjoyed completing several papers in creative writing both at Whitireia and Massey and intend to continue writing as long as I can.

Umpteenth Specialist Blues
So how can you describe her?’
He asks 
wanting to understand.
to weigh her life 
as if it was bread to be broken
and flung without a qualm 
the hungry masses waiting.

She thinks...
It’s a slow, winding dance
one partner always changing
a fixed pattern of steps.
The same brief nod, eyes half closed 
the same questions asked 
over and over.’
Reach out and touch my hand,’ he says’
And ‘How many fingers am I holding up now?’

She wants to say, 'four’.
She wants to say, ‘piss off!’ 
She wants to scream and rant 
and dig her fingernails into his arm.
A stream of abuse fills her head 
pours out through her skin 
her eyes,
her wordless mouth.

Up there
a fly is circling the ceiling
a rose petal is floating in the breeze
an eagle soars above a barren plain.
Below her.......
the voices drone on.

But she is an eagle.


London then, 
a childhood memory
cruisin’ in my buggy
down the busy city streets
impressions form of buildings
grey upon grey
pollution ridden taxis 
belch out diesel
into the turgid atmosphere.

Kelp-like legs 
wave around me
grey legs, black legs
pinstriped everyday legs
the urban population
spreads its sprawling tentacles
across the city pavements.

Looking up attainable 
a rectangle of blue
a distant dream of the Antipodes
I scan the faces rushing past
eyes carefully averted.

In child-bereft streets
I blaze the way
my flaming chariot
the girl in a bubble 
seen yet unseen.

Bumping down the steps
into the concrete 
graffiti-covered subway
we hesitate 
wait for a smiling face...over,

A helping hand 
not forthcoming
I scale the twelve 
mountainous steps
rail in one hand 
my stick in the other.

mouse-like Londoners 
scurry up and down
in plague proportions
refusing to acknowledge
this slow-moving impediment
keeping a safe distance 
between us.

On reaching the top 
I gaze down 
at my hand-knitted
bright yellow socks 
a trendy London black.

From distant years
I seize the moment
stride down the stairs 
weapon at hand
in giant letters 
I spray

On an imaginary concrete wall.

Last Journey 

Who’ll pay
for death by suicide?
no questions asked of you 

Who’ll pay
for grieving families?
two years' free membership
for those you leave behind

after thirteen months
who’ll pay
for your last journey?

Have your credit card handy 

The Way of a Whisper 

Does life begin with a whisper, 
a secret that’s shared between two?

Within a circle of lies a whisper is hiding.

On the strength of a whisper a head was lost.

Whispers are mail for a million ears 

Louise’s fart whispered its way around the room
At the Bridge Club winter tournament.

DNA binds us with whispers to the past’s past.

The politicians provided the yarn
and the whisperers weaved their tales.

At night, within the Olive Grove 
near the soldiers’ cemetery 
whispers abound.

Does life end with a whisper 
a nod and a wink from your God?

The old woman and her cake

Ms Elsie McVeigh took her plate with her cake
a sultana and hazelnut square, 
she turned off the light, put out the cat 
and climbed to the top of the stairs. 

Ms Elsie McVeigh climbed up on her bed, 
which was sited exceptionally high
by the use of a ladder, made by her father
and handily hanging nearby. 

Ms Elsie Mcveigh stared out of the skylight 
as shadows played over the walls 
and all of a sudden, sleep claimed her unbidden
and the cake made its way to the floor.

In her dream, from her bed, Ms Elsie McVeigh 
saw a girl in the sea, skirts held high, 
as she waded in water, waves came up and 
caught her and she let out a terrible cry.

Ms Elsie McVeigh looked around in a panic 
her face was a pale milk-white “Help help” 
she screamed loudly but nobody answered
for in truth not a soul was in sight. 

Two figures appeared in the distance 
and Elsie with dogged persistence
was off up the road, shoes pinching her toes
in search of some urgent assistance. 

The brothers Eduardo and Michael, 
were pushing their folding bi-cycle, 
when up Elsie bounded snatched the bike 
which she mounted without any sign of a fight. 

Down the sand to the sea Elsie cycled,
chased by Eduardo and Michael, 
as the water got higher. 
she was fiercely inspired
to rescue the girl and revive her. 

The forest of kelp was a wonder
which Elsie weaved over and under,
the girl in the skirt with her red spotted shirt, 
floated out through the foam and the thunder.

Ms Elsie McVeigh beneath her duvet,
in her dream was regretting the fact,
that she’d chased in the water 
some other fool’s daughter  
a truly impetuous act.

On the shore stood Eduardo and Michael,
who were worried about their bi-cycle, 
they waved and they fussed
for they knew about rust. 
and they thought they might have to re-cycle. 

Now Elsie was stuck in the sand 
and she turned the bike back to the land,
as she peddled to shore
something nipped and she saw,
a shark nibbling her toes and her hand.

Ms Elsie McVeigh woke up the next day 
with horrible shake and a shiver, 
when she opened her hand a toothpick lay there 
and all that was left, was a slither. 

There’s a rule in the house now of Elsie McVeigh,
which keeps her a little bit trimmer,
if you have to retire, in a bed that is higher,
then you never eat cake after dinner.

A summer song 

I gaze 
hardly daring to breathe
at your half-shadowed face 
eyes gently closed, 
mouth - a new moon 

could this be something
truly unique 
all that is made / is re-made,
so they say

yet here I am
of your grief-filled life
and whatever part of it
that’s not quite revealed

if only we’d discovered 
with truth comes distance
walk right in
the power of a lie

your body here, in my arms 
and there 
through the window 
her song drifts across the bay 

like two birds,
constantly migrating 
one to warm, one to cold
the cycle goes on. 

we live / we die
and a poor girl sings
her summer song

Lake Rotoiti 

Have you ever known a place
where a Taniwha is hiding
managing to shelter
behind a stranger’s eyes 
and a woman’s secret glance 
within the witching hour
tells a very different tale
from her motherly disguise?

We lived in such a place

Have you ever known a place
where water shines before you
and the bush rolls down like curtains 
surrounding you with green
yet underneath this beauty
there is a certain feeling
an edginess; 
the strangest sense
of something not quite seen?

We lived in such a place

Have you ever known a place
where you feel completely helpless
and sickness can surround you
an impenetrable cage
and the fist-holes in the walls
though they’re papered now and plastered
still bear silent witness
to a former tenants rage? 

We lived in such a place

Have you ever left a place
when you felt so numb and broken
yet all that you could see,
was the lightening of the sky?

We left such a place.

Holly Edgecombe, poet

There's lots more of Holly's writing. Another example was included in a posting on Conductive World five years ago –

A pantoum about fear and pain of sound

The fire siren sobs in the night
purples the air with its voice
wrenching the innermost child
caught in the hands of the dark
purples the air with its voice
like the rise and the fall of a tide
caught in the hands of the dark
squeezing the oxygen down
like the rise and the fall of a tide
gauging a path in her skin
squeezing the oxygen down
adrift on an ocean of sound
gauging a path in her skin
curled up in her roughly-made shell
adrift on an ocean of sound
like a mother at loss for her child
adrift on an ocean of sound
like a mother at loss for her child
adrift on an ocean of sound
like a mother at loss for her child
adrift on an ocean of sound
like a mother at loss for her child
adrift on an ocean of sound
like a mother at loss for her child
curled up in her roughly-made shell
blind to the touch of a friend
like a mother at loss for her child
shackled by senses untamed
blind to the touch of a friend
wrenching the innermost child
shackled by senses untamed
the fire-siren sobs in the night.

You can read more of the Edgecombe family's experience of Conductive Education in the collection Intelligent Love, one of a range of publications from Conductive Education Press:


Grahame, J., McGuigan, C, Maguire, G. (eds.) (2010) Intelligent Love: parents' action for Conductive Education, Birmingham. pp. 81-90

To read some more about this book, which is a compilation of what families around the world have done to access Conductive Education, and to make it more available for other families too, go to:

If you wish you can also buy a copy from the above link.

Sutton, A, (2009) 'Bravo, András Pető!' a conductive upbringing in New Zealand, Conductive World, 14 October 

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