new zealand electronic poetry centre

Bernadette Hall


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WAITARA CANTICLE


Someone has dug with a patu
a ditch in the sunlit meadow
of her wide forehead.   See

the ashy Lenten cross
she delights in wearing,
the shark-toothed necklace.

Her tongue extends, a sacred
vessel.   She opens her dark
throat and there’s this odd

singing of the air as it moves
through the clerestory, a white
flume.   She is surprisingly

sturdy as the wood pigeon
within the smooth musculature
of the Atlas Cedar is sturdy.

She’s Cheryl Moana
Marie, loosening her queenly
fretted throat and tiny

silver birds fly out,
their breasts plumping
as they swing ceremoniously up

and down and open
the little hinged gates
of their silver beaks; and tiny

silver keys fling out,
the neat nick where each one
fits into its lock,

all the mechanical parts
and it’s his and hers and ours
and theirs and we say

hey, hang on a minute,
we’d better all listen
this time, don’t you reckon!

 

From Settler Dreaming, Wellington:   Victoria UP, 2001
Bernadette Hall
 


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Last updated 25 March, 2005