D A V I D E G G L E T O N
I left my life, held captive by a dream,
and stood in the middle of the Californian
Spanish Mission Revival beachfront,
learning how to build cumulus clouds.
I saw Napier’s sky pour it on
in the Sabbath calm of high noon,
and become a blue, bolt-on electro-furnace,
whose countrified, backwards centrepiece
shone out above the tremble of summer’s edifice.
Then I trudged the autumn moa-bog,
dug the handjive out of the Treaty,
snapped paper flags at Britannia,
a majestic barge bearing Victoria,
though hard to tell she was, from proverbial
bars of soap, goosefat of dictionaries;
all that candlepower burning pure oxygen
of ideas at Grand Theory Hotel, demolished
after holocaust fires of the last earthquake.
I heard a Hesitation Waltz, guarding silent
bush lawyers deep in the beech forest.
Love planted flags on iceberg pinnacles;
profiteers careered through envy and greed,
going by feel, their heart muscles pumping.
Rutherford was still searching for the atom,
in a photograph on the milled edge of town.
That winter Tahupotiki Ratana gave us
a tiki, kumara, gold watch, and huia feather.
Farmers in hand to hand combat got closer,
leafing through their histories of gorse.
Spring’s Botanica erupted round Vogel’s ears,
strands of patriarchal clematis cut with shears.
Then the sea was poeming in stress-marks,
and the sky was puddling with vapour trails,
and the bush was filling with supermarkets,
as I undid the rusty clasps of an old century,
and stared down into my life turned to dark.
From Rhyming Planet (Wellington: Steele Roberts, 2001)