Image by F J Neuman

Turangawaewae

Turangawaewae

I left my life, held captive by a dream,
and stood in the middle of the Californian
Spanish Mission Revival beachfront
learning how to build cumulus clouds.
I saw Napier’s blue sky pour it on
in the high noon calm of the sabbath,
and become an electro-furnace bolt-on,
whose countrified backwards centrepiece
shone above the tremble of summer’s edifice.

Then I trudged the autumn moa-bog;
to honour the Treaty did a handjive dodge,
snapping Hau! Hau! salutes at Britannia -
a majestic barge bearing Victoria,
though hard to tell she was, from sour
bars of soap, black billy tea, rock flour,
all that candlepower burning pure oxygen
of ideas at Grand Theory Hotel, demolished
after Hell’s Gate fires of the last earthquake.

A tui’s hesitant song waltzed around
the rainforest silence of bush lawyers,
and love planted flags on icecap pinnacles.
Profiteers through envy and greed careered,
going by feel, their heart muscles pumping.
Rutherford for the atom was still searching,
in a photograph on the milled edge of town.
Tahupotiki Ratana gave us that winter,
a kumara, a tiki, a gold watch, a huia feather.

In hand to hand combat farmers got closer,
leafing through leaves, rolled ever-looser,
until gardens erupted from Vogel’s ears,
his beard of spring clematis cut by shears.
As bush began to fill with supermarkets,
as skies began to puddle with vapour trails,
as seas began to poem with stress-marks,
I undid the rusty clasps of an old century,
and stared down into my life turned to dark -

Turangawaewae, Turangawaewae, Turangawaewae.


‘Turangawaewae’ from Rhyming Planet (Steel Roberts, 2001), © David Eggleton 2001, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004.

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