M a t a r i k i f r o m T a k a r u n g a, D e v o n p o r t, 2 3 J u n e 2 0 0 9
Auckland’s monster brain, even asleep, pulses
with electric flashes: a live volcanic field —
urban magma, glowing, larval, wormy,
while Skytower blazes like a firebrand to flush
out werewolves, except there’s no moon beaming,
just a black vault thick with glitter, celestial
frost wheeling above the summit of Takarunga,
Mount Victoria, eighty-one metres above the harbour;
and I’ve walked its spiralling road in the dark to keep
a vigil, be a stargazer, a look-out posted in the prow
of a waka, scanning the skies for Matariki’s eyes.
I lie on my back against the lip of the crater,
to gaze up like an anti-gravity bungee-jumper
at the star-trek of spaceship Earth in bigger-
than-Imax glory, with 360 degree sensurround;
am gathered into spiral arms of the Milky Way;
then for a moment feel light-years from home —
consciously amid the cosmic laboratory a specimen —
and the closed throat of the vent below me hums.
It might be a hangar where raupo kites are stored
that can duel with the hawk, whose cold plumes
coast without lull from Ruapehu or Ngauruhoe.
Hill leviathan, fit for temple or observatory,
this scoria lump, pitted and terraced, once wore
a cloak woven of fern, bracken, flax, manuka;
then was a site for palisades, stratagems, ambuscades,
flag-raisings; for signal masts, cannon to warn foes
emphatic as war god Tumatauenga’s stuck-out tongue.
Now I stalk across its carpark a nocturnal weka,
looking towards Rangitoto, Tiritiri, Tikapa Moana,
below Maui’s fishhook, the anchor of the Great Waka,
the moko of some mighty face streaked with stardust —
the wink of tiny eyes sparkling like lures of paua.
Go tell it on the mountain; let its green bell chime
above cemetery’s melancholy, stoplights, roofs.
New tides of day roll in: Te Ra dyes the sea blue,
and floats of a fishing net form islands in the Gulf.
All is flux: shadows boiling; a mad whirl of gulls
chasing ferry’s backwash as it departs for the underworld.
Trypot’s bubbling anchorage is a cauldron of dolphins
surfacing, or black-shelled mussels steaming in a kitchen.
Curtains go back on a villa window, and a behemoth
glides to the container port like a horizontal skyscraper,
orange as ripe persimmons in winter’s leafless orchard.