new zealand electronic poetry centre


Albert Wendt

online works

The Mountains of Ta'ū


Mountains wouldn't be 
mountains without the valleys      ravines
and sea level they rise up from
They are
the rising high of sight propped up by stone
earth and sky
They can't be
any other thing (and they know it)
They are
the eyes of the earth      gazing out
gazing inwards      contemplating the future
on the horizon line and in the deptths 
of the whirling retina

These mountains      the mountains of Ta'ū     are
locked arm to arm      blood to blood
and live in one another's thoughts

They hum
like spinning tops or Maui's endlessly
inventing mind      on fine mornings
when the mist lifts and the horizons open
to the promise of what may be

They creak and crack
like old aoa trees      as they dry in the sun
and the river dives and digs
for its roots      and 
fat pigeons nibble the day away on 
the sweet black berries of moso'oi      and
in cold rock pools Atua wash off
the night's stale smell of sex and perfume
their twisting hair with laumaile leaves and 
for dear life trees and creeper cling onto 
sharp slope and cliff and the air
is thick with long messages of death
in the falling

They whisper together in the evenings
in talk only they can hear
as the dark turns all languages
into one shape of the tongue      and
the ravenous flyingfox chases
the ripe-papaya moon      and
comic aitu squeal in the waterfall

They sleep best 
on stormy nights when they can't hear 
one another's sleep-chatter
and the wind massages their aching spines
with tender hands

These mountains      the mountains of Ta'ū     are
above the violence of arrogant men
They now fit my eyes and heart exactly
like a calm river is snug in the hand
of its bed
I am of their rising
I am of their dreaming
and they of mine

These mountains      the mountains of Ta'ū


Albert Wendt


Last updated 11 May 2001