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Two Poems of New Zealand

Hazel Hills

Turangawaewae: The place where your feet belong


1. Tui Close


You tell me how a kowhai sapling

you have grown from seed now prospers

on your Belfast high-rise balcony,

and laugh as you recall how, on a recent visit

to your native land,

you saw some tuis, tipsy-drunk

on kowhai nectar, tangle in a brawl.


And, as you speak, I visualize those tuis

in that patch of bush beyond the town —

that dark metallic blue-green flaff of wings,

their clownish bow-ties wiffling up and down

as they perform their repertoire of whistles,

squeaks, hoots, clicks and bells;


then further off, below the War Memorial Tower

at Durie Hill, the river lying still,

the town, the sea beyond;


and somewhere out there

in the core of things

— amid volcanic sand

and childhood stars —

your sense of home.



2. Ninety Mile Beach


Far from the tideline,

constant coaches cross

compacted sand.


Way beyond, the Tasman Sea

wider than any one of us can stretch our eyes.


Five-minute scheduled stop:

en route to where Maoris say

the spirits of their dead leave

on the homeward journey —

and we pilgrim tourists mail our postcards home.


Nearer the sea’s brink, momentarily

we leave faint imprints on the sand.


The water’s magnifying glass

displays two palmer’s shells.

One black. One white.


We hold them

lifetimes and a world away.


From Iota No 75 (2006)