In the summer centre, the island on a limb,
the sun swelts the volcanic earth mixed 

with sand pushed up out of the sea. Manuka 
thrives, pink and white flowers speckle 

the near horizon. Beneath blackened boughs 
are deep pools of shade we dive into, a relief 

to skin and hot-flushed mind—such abundance, 
such hunger for contrasts given in plenty. 


Flashes of silver, consumed by hunting eyes,
somersault above the net, caught on our stage. 

The show, put on by the escapees, drags us 
from all over, as the watery world shrinks; 

the curtain drawn by long-shorted, dripping, 
wielders of the rope. At the wings, they hurl 

their catch of spike-nosed piper onto the beach
in a rolling crescendo of pebbles and fish. 


The southern wind edges the waves 
moving across the bay; white lines of static flicker 

and vanish: a jumpy picture of turquoise-blue 
blotted with shadows from dampened clouds above. 

Amidst the froth and crests of roughening seas 
birds in the distance race to a haven 

at the north end of Tokerau Beach, where the sands
curve behind the rocks marked by Maui’s net.


The setting sun, like a cut blood-orange, 
bleeds out over the distant hills. The beauty, 

this time, is in the far view and the silhouette. 
In front of the lamp the Manuka are scissored. 

The shape of things distracts from mosquitoes 
at my ankles. We forget that we are prey 

often enough to believe in a moments bliss, 
ale in hand, crunching chips and dip.

The stonewalling shag

The shag declined to be interviewed, 
wouldn’t allow a photograph, said she knew nothing
about the fish carcasses.
“Ask the throttle-and-munch-em sea riders 
who were here last night.” 

She didn't have a song,
just a certain way of puffing her chest,
of being exactly where she was:
the rock pools, the purple crabs, 
the decomposing seaweed, the curve of the bay. 

A rock higher than the high tide, an easy take off, 
these were her piper and pilchard.

“Off the record, my silence was inevitable 
considering my original disposition 
to dive down under the horizon into the quiet.” 

After a long pause, 
while still looking out to sea, she said: 
“It's like this, those carcasses were of fish I knew
in the way that you used to know the sky at night.” 

“Take what you want from that, 
I don't really care.”