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
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)