from ON FIRST LOOKING
Make more use of your hands
and less of your tongue. Clay cliffs,
a shingly beach for bloated sheep
until high tide disturbs those blown
from over-confidence. Vinegar
ink marks the tin-plate letters on wool-bales:
greasy or washed. Watch your tongue
because it lasts even longer: harsh
words turn the dog. If you drive
a flock of shorn wethers
across Oamaru Plain, tailing
with the rattle of flax, you’ll find
language sets you apart – but how far?
And, near to this, a hall of torn-up stone.