man at Oturehua
a collection of houses
where one window watches your face
one side the store - a ute, two caged ewes mew
the pub opposite - a flat tray, bales of hay
and you out riding in green thermals, no doubt
like a stick insect, changing colour
one with the tussock craw, the crag face
you take to the line of wind to turn your cheek
the same track as sheep.
Rough Ridge has no limit.
The horizon an open road.
for that extra distance
When I arrive you are in your chair
clutching the armrests like the sea is pounding
over you, on a rock perhaps, at Muriwai.
Your body does not turn
filleted like a fish to bones and bulging
eyes, you flounder out of sorts.
And you ask me to make your bed because the
inner has shifted ground, you say
leaving an empty space that does not warm you.
I pummel and shake the feathers
into shape, listening to you at the kitchen bench
guzzling morphine syrup from a brown bottle.
The next day you tell me, with a gurgle
of humour rising in your throat,
that your bed feels new, like a motel
and perhaps after all, you are
taking a break, a weekend out on the coast
listening to the roar of waves, spinning
for kahawai, weighing in the snapper
you landed when your long bones threw
a line in the surf, and you waded to your waist
for that extra distance, stretching for one last cast
knowing the light was fading and soon you'd
have to be heading back.