Ripe, you hover
in the closing night.
Earth’s shadow stalks
then swallows, bite
by blood-orange bite
in the slide and shift of orbit
until, safe from the hungering
beast of prophesy, you
gather your scattered light
in a slow rebirth.
HIGH TIDE WITH BOULEZ
You haven’t walked this beach, Pierre!
Perhaps instead some Mediterranean idyll
till now that is,
your scattered light plugged into
my sea-spray ears
white lilies bloom in sand, their
strappy leaves and spidery petals
like you, improvise
Hands race over keyboard,
to Messiaen and Schoenberg
Your crashing chords and baton beat
animate my seaweed step,
but Maestro, leap fast this octave
before high-tide floods
LIKE THIRSTING DOGS
wind enough to topple.
then aims its bite
elsewhere, and we
like thirsting dogs
From patient bed of sand
at sea’s edge
we scan a sky
extravagant with stars
Time stills, our breath
stolen by a hurl of sparks
their earthly death
Slick in cleavages
no semblance of civility
this briny substance
A brief reprieve, the
punching sun vanquished
I’ll don turquoise and feathers
intone the gods
zigzag through a rain dance
to subdue this swelter
Gold-furred roadside bright
vibrant in the early light.
Later, by the milepost white
I’m cut to see no sign of breath.
I’m staring at the sleep of death
The cyclone unleashes its fury
stripping, snapping, felling,
yet windfalls spill from ravages.
An open sky unmasks once hidden sea,
air busy with wings-
a scarlet flit,
a dash of white, a flutter of blue
magnets to my gaze.
Currawong, yellow eyes
fixed on me, darts
from balcony rail to forlorn tree
From silence, day by day
voices build as in a fugue-
cockatoos screech, tear
at palm fronds,
coconuts thud to ground
ibis sheers across foreshore,
signals an unseen mate
with a single eerie squawk
The magpie pair,
broken-winged survivors of
an earlier onslaught,
refuse to be silenced, their
call and response
sweet counterpoint to
nature’s brute force.
the accompanying soundtrack
to this living theatre of flight.
My heart is busy,
thumps in a danse macabre
from throat to belly,
occupies like a disgruntled tenant,
the storm in my body tethered
to the raging wind.
Sheets of iron slap the sky,
glass panes struggle
to break from constraint
like a defiant child.
I’m weak at the knees –
garden broken, heart shaken,
chance’s strange arithmetic flung
Milton in with the storm-
Paradise Lost, almost.
Slow pace, fair measure
of gluey air.
Dogs wade to
meet their mirrored selves
then, side by side in silent
stir a muddied brew
TWO PRECIOUS THINGS
The Hippeastrum bursts ebullient
from hooded sheath
to reward my daily vigilance,
its splendour redolent
as the fiery sun, its
cloak red royal.
In the paddock beyond
a pair of Curlews has for weeks
kept vigil, one nesting one standing,
three times strangely repositioned.
They’ve moved again today-
their camouflage a challenge to
to the keenest eye- to lie
branch-like, side by side.
What thrill to find one tiny chick beside.
The stars are unsteady tonight,
flick on and off
like faulty electrics.
Red and white zigzags
above Waikawa Bay
in a game of join-the-dots,
sky so full of random propositions
I can’t trust my eyes.
Little lights from a sloop below
scribble gold, something flashes
in the margin, trickery blurs
edge of hillside, end of inlet.
All night I jump in and out
of my home-stay bed, nose to
cold glass, the better to ponder
this glorious nonsense.
I tread my coastal garden
devoted as a lover,
note vital signs, plush
drooping, pale or vivid
each tree, each plant
familiar as the pulsing
of my veins.
Clouds tease, refuse to burst.
Steadfast as a faithful wife
I pore over weather maps
hose now grafted to hand.
Garden, weather, a bigamist
wedded to both!
The monsoon trough hurls rain,
overnight a crescendo of green.
I’m high on this windfall,
whirl a word of thanks
to some ancient godhead,
my weather obsession
not quite a malady,
I’m dizzy on rain!
Kookaburra probes the night
scattering silence in a gust.
I lurch toward doorway
notebook eager, ears cocked
eyes wide, morning star
like me, startled from sleep.
Early air teases my naked body,
a cricket shrills the dark,
sea and sky meddle beyond trees.
Kookaburra pitches his call
I muddle and fiddle
scribble some words with
still scratchy eyes.
Too soon for words,
I fall back to bed.
Let the creatures sing-in the day!
NATURE’S CHILD (Bargara)
Two girls abandon themselves
float downstream on tidal gush
toward a Sunday sea. Unable
to resist, I follow suit.
In thrall to this childlike pleasure
I return next day to indulge unobserved.
Muscles taut, I plough upstream
ever-deepening water rushing seaward
from salty lagoon, its sandy bed
I’m five years old, shadowing my
‘Claytons brother’ on pitted edge
of a tidal river. A hole sucks me down.
Above, a reaching arm lifts me to
Fearless and canny, we conspire to
keep a secret from the grown-ups,
freedom already a precious commodity.
My three-round game begins.
Belly down I play the stream, drift to shallow.
Swirling leaves feather my body.
Face to sky, Casuarinas sigh toward me,
tide sucks ever stronger. The surging
energy pivots me side-ways. Sandy banks
whispering trees, dark-faced rocks, a
cerulean sky roll by as in a movie.
Final frolic face down. Fingers clench
as hands sink deep, toes dig in, arms
and shoulders strain to resist the force.
On the beach at stream’s edge, current
slowly undercuts bank, tiny cracks widen
millimetre by millimetre under my patient gaze.
In a slow plonking rhythm sand calves off
scalloping the edge as roiling brine races
sand-laden to expectant surf.
A LITTLE LIFE
I give him to the branches
Above, his jaunty sibling preens
parents coax, yet flight
remains beyond reach.
His family shriek and swoop,
I duck and scold,
we’re jittery in our collective failure.
Blighted wing revealed
he’s put to sleep, I weep
at his demise, bring him home –
his sole inheritance, a tiny grave
in summer’s earth.
Foliage shudders in motionless air.
It makes no sense until I spot a furry thing
streaking down banana leaf, it’s tail
delivering a semaphore message.
Confident in its momentum, it leaps
to frangipani branch, skirts across limbs
gnarled as an old man. I concentrate to
keep pace with this diminutive speed-freak.
Before me, a virtuosic flying machine
airborne time and again as it scales
the treetops of its perpetual playground
then dashes down a sturdy yellow bamboo
and out of sight.
Overhead, all shimmers slowly to stillness.
Salt-wet, ocean- fresh
I lean into wind. Its surging
force glues towel to my
sodden breast streaming
flag-like, hands and arms left
free to play the air.
Sand swirls, currents whirl
waves froth and shout their way
to shore, the horizon transforms
to an unfamiliar bumpy line of white.
SEASON’ S TURNING
The humid tease of rain awaited
thirsting garden thief of time
spirits flag till it awakens, from
deepest sleep its song now calling.
Listen, listen, lightly falling
plants and creatures can you hear it?
my ear attuned from months of silence
the measure of it, tin roof sounding.
Running naked through the darkness
4 a.m my night has ended,
scooping soggy leaves from gutters
water gushing, tanks now filling.
Potted plants hauled out from cover
showery flush to freshen foliage
the slaking mineral-laden liquor
first taste of rain, the season’s turning.
DAY TRIP TO PUNAKAIKI
The day strode from deer
Pasture and dairy flank the road,
a magician pulls a stunt-
cows vanish, alpaca and deer
appear like apparitions.
At Punakaiki the ocean thuds,
unearthly sounds ricochet from caverns,
arcing rainbows spurt impetuously
Fault-lines shudder and jerk this land
thrown up, buckled and chiselled
in another epoch, these Pancake Rocks
today silent witness to a babble of tongues.
A seabird, still as death, rests on stone slab.
Far below, dolphins slice through water
unseen by tourists tangled in selfie sticks.
Beyond, track follows river. Nikau palm,
Rimu and tree fern blanket the escarpment,
mosses cling to rock face. I’m in Hobbit country,
silent but for ripple of water over rocks,
birdsong and a sotto voce chorale of insects.
No need of further walking, stillness now
a better lesson. But if I were the Dancer
with single bound I’de leap these giant rocks
and sit mid-stream, hand grazing river
while dolphins play the nearby ocean.
Dancer refers to documentary film about Sergei Polunin
Impatient for dawn,
I crack open the night,
another voice replies,
a mere beginning-
we are a multitude.
By day I am scattered everywhere-
main street steps or foraging
earthworms on grassy verge
inured to whizzing traffic;
you see me on a gravel path
cushioning my new brood beneath me.
I peck leftovers on a sandy beach,
lead my young across foreshore
to campsite and nearby food van,
At day’s end, I thread my way
through tables and chairs where
crumbs have fallen or kindly folk
have thrown me scraps.
everywhere becomes somewhere.
Impatient for dawn
I steal the 3 a.m. silence.
WILD PACIFIC TRAIL
Swaddled against biting wind,
the path winds me through rainforest
undergrowth tamed to hedge.
Below, driftwood logs splay on
stony beaches, jam in narrow inlets
like pick-up sticks scattered by
so many random throws.
Jagged expanses of rock thrust black to sea.
This is no place for complaisance.
A sign reads: Caution You Are In Wolf Country.
Having gathered my wits, they scatter
again, when by the roadside we spot
tsunami warning signs!
It’s life on the edge within the ring of fire,
the sleeping giant never far away.
Ucluelet, B.C., Canada,