Panoply

Panoply

Take the long lines of caribou
and their stately purpose
south from the arctic circle
in a world stark as rubbings
and muted by sepia tones

take the tundra where animals are scattered
all over the floor of the world’s
biggest rumpus room

take the acres of wild flowers
one for every dead revolutionary
lying in sheafs of unanswered questions
all over the steppes

take the buffalo herds
long gone from the prairies
and the prairie grasses
that whispered in the winds
long gone

take the eagles soaring
over the uplands
and the arid and dusty valleys
where streams once burbled
and rivers frolicked and ran

take the great bears
devouring blueberries
in the autumn
and the salmon
bar-coding every headwater stream

take the cathedrals of sky
the polished bells
the tents of air
open to the trades and every other wind

take the ice bergs and floes
and the south wind that blows
one storm after another
for the rest of our lives

take the moa and the huia
extinguished by a taste for meat
and a love of ceremonial cloaks

take the poppies
red as embarrassment
their ardent brief reign
rage for the end of summer


from Taking Off (Victoria University Press, 2001), © Brian Turner 2001, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archives 2004.

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Books & cds by Brian Turner