new zealand electronic poetry centre

John Puhiatau Pule

online works

From ‘Thirty Songs of Love and Life by the Nineteenth-Century Poet Tomai, of Liku’
in The Shark That Ate the Sun (Penguin, 1992)

As I walked out of the forest one night
I saw a young girl quiver like a bird
under God’s servant the pastor,
his robe was freely given blood
transparent in his holy sin,
the girl’s eyes sucked in by fireflies,
her lips cried into the earth.
I let a dove loose from my mouth
sat down and watched the stars
migrate into her black hair,
the pastor gave a final jerk
and moved leaves into a final storm.
I parted the flax so to see new voices
that wept like a river down two seedlings
and as if to say goodbye
he threw what looked like Jesus
into her hand.
His shadow, all that was left of
the night, crushed the morning
sun hiding above his head.
The girl examined red ants
soaked in blood.
I followed her back to Liku
past worker eating the garden
past mothers calling their children
past young men drunk on loku wine
and before she entered her house she
saw my shadow stop her dreaming
and when we ran to each other’s eyes
she said, did you see?
I gave her the crabs I caught that night,
only because I hunt close to your legs, I said,
and rather than go home I
watched the men fish off the reef.


John Pule

Last updated 25 September, 2005