Poetry

Kupe

Moana! It’s me…
I’ve run from Hine-nui-te-pō
to hear the waves break in the twilight morning
and see once more the waka pulled up high
on the beach, their tauihu standing
like warriors, proud amongst the gulls
and scuttling crabs.

I dig in the sand,
two lengths from the great pohutukawa,
until my lonely hands touch what we buried:
the waka huia I carved
with our bodies entwined on every side,
mouths open, tongues hungry.

The edges of the box
have softened over time, but the embers
we placed inside still glow, which we can use
to light again a fire in the dunes
that will burn like the one Ranginui
and Papatūānuku lit in the beginning.

Standard
Poetry

A memory

your summer dress I remember:
orange, green, a touch of turquoise

was it?

how it clashed so madly
with the dull buildings

dulled by a sky-full
of grey clouds

pressing inappropriately
around you

and your smile—dashed off
as you ran past in the light rain

bright as the sound
tyres make
on a smooth wet road.

Standard
Poetry

I would love an apple orchard

I would love an apple orchard,
with goats kept at bay by a fence,
with pigs, snout-ringed, allowed
to sample the windfall fruit

only, not my perfect darlings,
hanging ripe from heavy, drooping
branches, waiting for a hand
to appreciate them, like I surely

would, if an orchard were mine―
but I’m old, and it’s too late now
to plant stake-bound saplings in land
I do not even have a lease to own.

So, there’ll be no late evening
dalliance with the fruit of Eves,
just apples enough from one tree
planted, wisely, many years ago.

Standard
Poetry

I’m an unknown tulip seller

I

I’m an unknown tulip seller
wasting along empty streets
delivering sweet-scent bouquets
to locked-down city doors.

II

Why did I take this chance
to walk away? I remember still
that night; the shooting stars
shot through our wilted hearts.

III

I place a weak-stemmed flower
in the deserted square, a gift
for you, with a note which says,
“Take my offering of regrets.”

Standard
Poetry

On looking at a statue of the Buddha

She must have been beautiful, Prince,
and your love for her as the Ganges flows.

She must have hurt you, for you to wish
you’d never experienced the dream.

It’s vanity to walk beside beauty
and trust the pleasures of the heart.
All this was well known.

Did you tear the jewels from your ears
for being so duped?
And was the pain not enough?
Did your pride demand more?

You haven’t fooled me,
I know why you sat under a tree
for forty-nine days and nights.
I know why your legs
are awkwardly crossed.

The serenity chiselled on your face,
the laugh lines sanded away―
your own hand the torturer of flesh
that once caressed her…

Or was that too, poor Prince,
something which happened only
in your infinite mind?

Standard