Proposal at Allans Beach
thrust into the sea, the sea
curls back intimately
into the land, celebrating
a moody marriage. The wind here
saws into flesh like cord
but just around the sandhills
a small inland sea
dotted with maimais calmly sends
the sun back to heaven.
Even in winter you can lie
on its hard white beach
naked as if youíd just crawled
up from the sea like a fish with legs
and were looking around for a mate.
But up there above the ridges
itís always going on: the air
dividing, and pouring mist
down ngaio gullies, making sheep
get up and move, unveiling contours
taking them away again.
The whole place is a test site.
Iíve been bringing
people here for 20 years Ė
sometimes with a hard question
mostly to see how we match up
to its absolute background.
It never fails. Walk with someone
from the flax-hung cliff at one end
to the tidal creek at the other
and youíll know for sure
whatís biting both of you
whether you could be friends for life
and lesser domestic truths. Of course
I had to be brought here once myself
on a particularly uninviting day.
Squinting up the dark green slopes
I knew Iíd come home. Later
I sat by the lagoon a whole
sunfilled September day and planned
the work of a decade. And once
I came here with a friend and the rain
blew back into our faces and told us
we could never be the lovers
we thought we wanted to be.
Iím never alone here Ė
the place is full of ghosts.
With luck, you might see one
swimming naked in a rock pool
on the greyest day of the year.
It is a place for strong attachments:
friends, lovers, children.
I canít promise much
but you wonít forget having been here
nor who you came with, and all
that followed, if it followed.
[WWAM, VUP, 1991]
© The Estate of Iain Lonie 2004