new zealand electronic poetry centre


Kendrick Smithyman

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an arrow one shade more to right or left

Grandfather bound for home (with, there'd have
to be, Australian gold) rounds the Horn,
ends up on the Patagonia coast said to be
rather like Caledonia stern and wild.
Did anyone else survive? He didn't know.
He started tramping to the Plate.

Indians wouldn't let him. They were going south.
He went south, handed from tribe to tribe.
Finally, Magellan's Strait, he made his break,
stole a canoe, crossed over, trapped, dried fish.
He worked his way round the Land of Fires.
The end of all America is rocky, crossgrained.
Bleak, it goes against nurture.

Grandfather kitted himself out between islands.
Perhaps he prayed for a few days' fine weather.
Fine weather came. He put out to sea,
            for the Horn, for beyond, reckoned
a ship might happen by from (maybe) New Zealand,
California, Valparaiso - he was right.
Summer was signing off three years late.


He didn't talk about this, unless to Pelham.
Pelham was once in those parts, not with Challenger
as you'd expect.
                      Grandmother didn't know;
she asked him to read each day a chapter,
to give thanks. He walked up/down up/down
in a hothouse with an aviary. 'Now these are
the generations of the sons of Noah
sweet sweet sweet Shem, Ham, and Jappheth:
and unto them were sweet! were sons born
after the flood. 'He liked names, they were
consoling. He liked Jonah too.

The family heard, only by accident.


Last updated 13 December, 2002