H  O  M  E    &    A   W   A   Y      2  0  1  0
   n z e p c
Michele Leggott   
march | september

All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney             


for Susan Davis, Frances Edmond and Judith Binney


January 2010

spirits bay

the joker in the orange vest
is baiting up an electric kontiki
his mate is in charge of the line
has been up here three years or more
working on the roads    Saturday off
and they want to try this side    the kontiki
is good though sometimes the breakers
hammer it    twenty five minutes
in the battery    enough to get a fair way out
fish for tea plan a or plan b    their mate
is surfcasting from rocks below the point
their ute has an orange light on top
the kontiki a little red flag    up on the ridge
a black horse watches us
then walks off into the manuka

she went back to Te Paki    turned south
for the run down the beach    a comedy
with driftwood and tarpaulin under the wheels
tide coming in and they got the car out
marching chocolate and toheroa leaving behind
the swish of vague stars above ti tree
scratched out lines on Exquisite Bond    trying
to see the flying off place    the pathway
of spirits a rope and basket affair
pretty near worn through twenty years
back    trying to see past melancholy
love is your overwhelming theme    yes
but why leave it to the horse and the stars
or the line of white plumes shaking
out there where the currents meet

the gateway has been shifted
the buildings erased    only the lighthouse
remains near the end of the spirit pathway
where the prophet heard the snuffling    peropero
of the dead as they passed and saw
a great house above the cliffs    crash barriers
write on the cambered bends
of the new road    sealed now from the top
working back to the junction and perhaps
ten kilometres to go    the three capes
wrangle as they have always done
and down the cliff comes that old kahika
still holding fast to the rock and refusing
ever to flower    a destiny and a song



pihoihoi the spiralling song    a pipit
and who will give the skylark a name
to fling against the cliffs    I cannot see
but my ears are open    have been opened
to the song and its destinations
spiralling backwards into the abyss
from which we will emerge    shining shocking
ready to start on the long walk south
alpha and omega I am with you
but I have changed hands    ostriches
an olive farm big windbreaks small chalets
unwinding the bird in my throat

in the city of words the wild man
wakes and knows he must leave
the warm bed the arms that detain him
where he has always wanted to be
this is not romance but death    the city of words
plunged into darkness    swans clattering
into the sky above the lake    which gleams
and turns back to the beloved head
at rest in the room before dawn    the wild man
ungovernable and meek as milk
all in the opening of one eye    has left
us now    he is near the on ramp and won’t stop
even for the lament his brother makes
from wood glue a guitar and a kick drum
even for the voice that has held him
so long where he wanted to be
and now reaches into the sky    wordless
black wings crying    love pain hunger
I have changed hands alpha and omega
unwinding the bird in my throat

kotare out the car window    here
wraith blossom and scrub cattle    there
dustclouds on the way to the fish farm
gone bust by the shallow harbour
one kotare two kotare three kotare four
songlines for idiot ears    everywhere
velocity in the November sun
dog snuffling its way around a bend
gamboge yellow    not sure how much
to take literally    and what can be left
for the others    orange cones
fill my eyes on the road south    alpha
and omega changing hands    unwinding
the bird in my throat


fat buds

Oihi and the little rose   
that drew us back to the museum
the historian’s papers and Richard Taylor
boating along to Te Puna    the journal
on its cushion under creamy light    the abode
of civilised man in ruins again    already
strange carvings sunk into lintels
beside the shingly beach    over his shoulder
the ink drying slowly    whales on the sand
somewhere else and thick description
of the new everywhere tendrils    curving
across his page    all the children but one
on the ramble to the deserted bay
Hikutu eyes following    another historian
measuring footsteps over the hills    vanished
to Hokianga and the little rose hanging on
at the corner of the house    now you see me

but if you don’t write it down
I will disappear    and if you squint
at the inscription without reading glasses
the wrong word will start down its road
a gambolling dog making for Great Exhibition Bay
wrong way wrong word wrong name
I saw something    he said in the land
waiting to invent its people

the dog led us to Oihi
and a pair of paradise ducks on guard
above the valley to the sea    there was a rose
where the rose had been torn out    shooting
green and defiant at the corner of wind
whacking the hillside    absolutely where they were
said the historian looking at our photos
and was there one by John King’s grave
tiny pink flowers    no scent that I did smell   
pūtangitangi wheeling overhead

fat buds appear on trees
as the rose dreams itself again
from cuttings on a windowsill    Mangungu
Ohaeawai    coffee and muttonbirds at Te Corner
too late for The Trainspotter in Kawakawa
yes said the old rose grower’s daughter
the council knows it’s there    they invent
new reasons for cleaning up the reserve
and the historians keep bringing out
their boats and their books    they dip
their pens in black ink and draw parallels
across the pages and between the lines
a fig sucker at the pa site    an old lemon tree
in a fertile corner of land by the stream


degli angeli

I saw my angels    they were beautiful
beyond compare    flags snapping above the headland
combed blond by wind    they were sitting
each with disaster in a small pocket and they were
so beautiful in their resistance to the idea
of letting it fall into the world    they were meeting
in a room with light powered by small engines
perfect examples of resonance    and the distribution
of energy to this evolving flute    that tapering cup
in the hand of something like god    or the sound
of wind across hillsides    how to say it    they were
complete they were not defined they were still
and they were moving each moment    closer
to each other and further away    I saw them    they were
beautiful    they were the winds of heaven
in a small cup    unbreakable and looking at me


never dreaming

they came in a wave cloud    in bonnets
in gowns ballooned by the westerly flow
the slow circling of isobars    clockwise
counterclockwise    each with majuscule
definition    turning to the others
as sail pilots look for the marked channel
marvellous sarabande    starry gavotte   
points on a map drawn by geometers
forgotten or disappearing into the beat
of a warm pulse    they call out
Dinah Elizabeth Hannah Jane    each of them
huge against the sky and turning around
to hook another’s arm    Hannah Elizabeth
Dinah Jane    my daughters I left behind
will you forgive me    my sons I will bury
on the steep hillside    lend me grace
and a strong heart around the new house   
sisters angels    clockwise and counterclockwise
we turn on our passage over the sea    behind us
the biggest iceberg yet to escape circumpolar
currents    ahead the three capes wrangling
beside us voices crying    Rina Heni
Irihapeti Hana    and our hands folded
carefully around the green shoots    sweet briar
crimson china    our undocumented fingers
weird with grief and the future    rose wreaths
floating with the tide on a harbour of jade
voices on the deck    playing draughts    playing
the governor    making a cartridge case
Rina Hana Heni Irihapeti    bring your feet
across the sky    looking back looking
ahead    makers of wreaths and small shrouds
ladies of the wind    come ashore
we have you almost at anchor again
almost between the heads and beating
into the westerly flow    fiducial angels
never dreaming where your names
will take you as the seas begin to rise

First published in Southerly 69.3 (2009)

©Michele Leggott