The Situation: Richard Reeve

The Situation 2021

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2021’ is a continuation of ‘The Situation 2020’. A kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

David Eggleton


The Knack

At Hank’s, Quentin just then at the table, gruff as ever

in his woollen hat, his heavy, tar-stained fingers

cradling a bag. Mushrooms, collected by him,

 

he tells us, from somewhere in Warrington’s schnitzel

of hedge and lawn. We don’t press the issue where,

gratefully receive, and later feast

 

drunk on the haul, delighting in the terroir of it all.

For Quentin has the knack, knowledge of locale,

seasoned we say from decades loitering,

 

lingering along Coast Road with the bay in tow,

cockles, mushrooms, apples seeded from the defecations

of former Seacliff interns visiting our groves,

 

Quentin attends the gullies, fringes; worries,

claims at the roadside nabbing the best of it,

while we others, holding down respectable jobs,

 

labour away beyond the mountain until evening,

retreat in late afternoon to decode our day

and drink his tales of sly grubbing before night.

— Richard Reeve


from And the Pukeko Shall Rule – Rain Poems

 

*

 

To live through the poem, be on the other side of it. Coming back

from Invercargill, turning east from Mataura to Clinton, the sky

 

flood-dark to the north, drove into a first sheet of rain, stopped

at Clinton for a pie as the rain rang down on the asphalt; went on

 

to Balclutha and the rampant Clutha, tree-tangled, brown,

its effluent-gilded floodwaters underneath the bridge

 

purging to the coast; to Milton, where by State Highway 1

pukeko on berms scratched for worms teased out by the rain,

 

behind them, a dirty inland sea slurping at the roadside;

to Henley, brown; across the Taieri, enormous, brown,

 

plastic silage bales bobbing about like ice cubes in soup;

Allanton, Mornington, Warrington; the end of the poem

 

still far off, though I believed it imminent on my arrival,

readying myself, stepped from the wheel into the rain.


*

 

A visit to your frail house. Then apart, following weather

north to its Waihola digs, rain like a boozer entrenched

 

in the lowlands before Maungatua. I consider your advice,

hover between being and being, the poem correcting itself

 

in squalls of creation,  as though a moment might echo

in preemption the pelting of words, glimmer of recognition

 

through the grey, something we labour to get back to,

the syntax at its root, prefigured in a vanishing scene.

 

I simply do not know where to go. Ever looking back,

strain forward, a knowing verb. For you, the way is ethical,

 

political, resigned, cavities everywhere having opened

in the cultivated surfaces that clothe the soaked earth.

I am inclined to agree. And remain subordinate no less

to the highway, its self-important lines, insisting north.

— Richard Reeve

Richard Reeve biography

Richard Reeve lives in Warrington, a coastal satellite township to the north of Dunedin. He has published six collections of poetry, most recently the poetry-sequence, Horse and Sheep (2019), which features as one of a bundle of six chapbooks by various poets published by Maungatua Press. Now a barrister, Reeve holds a Ph.D. from the University of Otago on “New Zealand poetic reality”, and has in the past worked as a literary and humanities editor for Otago University Press.

'The Knack' was previously published in the community newsletter Blueskin News.

Richard Reeve. Image by Marchell Linzey.


The Situation: Ruth Arnison

The Situation 2021

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2021’ is a continuation of ‘The Situation 2020’. A kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

David Eggleton


Silent lyrics

If I could sing you a love song I’d voice

not one word,

 

but play a tune over your lips with mine,

whisper a chorus of breaths in your ears.

 

If I could sing you a love song you’d hear

every caress in my silence,

 

fingertips outlining your face with a hum,

lips crooning over the creases on your brow.

 

If I could sing you a love song I’d tell you

without sounding a note,

 

toes entwining in a melody of moments,

fingers gentling in harmony with yours.

 

If I could sing you a love song I’d murmur

not one bar,

 

but scale your body with a rhythmic touch

signing these lyrics.

Ruth Arnison


Driving to Wanaka’s Festival of Colour

Roadside cabbage trees stand like costumed Polynesian performers

while pylons, hands on hips, feet wide apart, await their zumba class.

 

The Manuka Gorge bends and snakes between shadow and light.

When we meet, slippery when frosty, next 5km, we slow down,

nervous skaters new to the rink.

 

A passing truck tattoos the windscreen with gravel, luckily it’s not

a full piercing. Not so lucky is the April-dead hawk, feathers stark

against the tarmac.

 

Approaching Lawrence a relocated house looks dislocated, stranded

mid muddy paddock, base boards torn away exposing beehive piles.

Sheep gather shade from rusted off-road abandoned stock trucks.

 

Sacks of farm gate sales - pinecones, kindling and horse poo – slouch

against disused school bus shelters. I’m given the ‘don’t even ask’ look

as he notes my eyes stalling on the compost possibilities.

 

Nearing Roxburgh, gorse descends on discarded orchards. Fleecy clouds staple

the sky and sheep yards, patiently waiting to go metric, stand empty. The hills

contort and crease with rocks balancing like tipsy macarons.

 

Max’s recomposed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons carries us onward, bypassing

Cromwell where two years of my life lie drowned beneath Lake Dunstan.

 

Now the hills are honey coloured and paddocks shorn of sheep. Fat hay bales,

stacked like ripening cheeses. Wanaka beckons, enticing us onwards

with further performances.

Ruth Arnison

Ruth Arnison biography

Ruth Arnison is the afternoon Administrator at Knox College — a student residential college in Dunedin. Her poems have been published in literary journals, anthologies, and ezines in NZ, Australia, the UK and US. She has curated five PoARTry exhibitions in Dunedin with the sixth one, Tools of the Trade, taking place at Mercy Hospital, Dunedin, in March. She’s the editor of Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ), the instigator of Lilliput Libraries, and supplies Dunedin cafes/businesses with free Pocket Poetry cards. Her passion is to take poetry out of books and into neighbourhoods, schools and playgrounds.  With her “step sister’ Sheryl she is responsible for the Poems on Steps project around Dunedin. 

Ruth Arnison. Image provided. 


Travels with my Tokotoko

On the 10th of October 2020, at a powhiri on Matahiwi Marae, my Laureate tokotoko, Te Kore, finally found its way into my hand, after a six-month delay to the ceremony forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. By the 10th of December 2020, I had appeared in public reciting poems and talking about poetry about 30 times, all over Aotearoa. That evening, helping launch the 100th issue of Takahē literary magazine at the Sign of the Takahē restaurant in Christchurch, I read three of my poems included in the centenary issue.

Man on a stage with a carved stick.
David Eggleton and Te Kore at the Little Theatre in Picton. 

At Matahiwi, kaumatua Edward Timu and Des Ratima, along with tokotoko carver Jacob Scott and tokotoko presenter John Buck, emphasised that Te Kore would help me rise tall in oratory, and Jacob also suggested the hardwood staff, made of heavy, dense maire, would help protect me, like a taiaha, from the consequences of reciting some of my more provocative poems. Well, so far, touch wood, I haven't needed it for that protection, while the dramatic appearance of the dark-stained rākau, cuffed and reinforced with stainless steel circlets, has drawn all eyes.

Carving on a hardwood stick.
Close up of carving on Te Kore. 

Te Kore means the Void, or Nothingness, out of which arises creation: the Void is charged, full of potential — from the cataclysm of a cosmic joke to the tremble of a tiny leaf splashed with rain. Te Kore has a cored-out knothole within its haft, through which you might glimpse Te Ao-marama: the bright light of day. I travel with Te Kore dissassembled, bundled up in a tapa cloth bag, sewn from the edge-piece of a large tapa mat presented by the fanau of my Tongan great-uncle Mateo Halafihi of Namoli, Tongatapu. The specially-designed bag has a zipper and a strengthened inner lining. The surface of Te Kore itself is delicately embellished with references to my Rotuman and Tongan whakapapa.

Tapa cloth bag with handles.
Te Kore in travelling tapa cloth bag. 

Writing a great poem is rather like being struck by lightning a handful of times after a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, the American poet Randall Jarrell reckoned. With its polished, beautiful dark grain, sombre as a scorched firestick, the slender and carven branch of a mighty tree, Te Kore would encourage any poet to write so as to make the familiar strange, questing after the transformative poem, the lightning flash. And so as I stand in front of the big poetry parade for the time of my tenure, I feel Te Kore is by me to keep me up to the mark, alert to metaphor and symbolism, the richness of living in these islands of Te Moana. Fai'eksia! Noa'ia e Mauri!

— David Eggleton


Te Kore presented to David Eggleton

Poet Laureate David Eggleton received his tokotoko last Saturday. On a bright sunny morning with a southerly wind keeping things fresh, David, together with whānau, fellow poets Michael O’Leary, Jenny Powell and Kay McKenzie Cooke, a group of us from the Library and locals, were welcomed on to Matahiwi marae near Clive in Hawkes Bay. Our party was guided by Charles Ropitini, who also spoke (and sang) on our behalf.

After the powhiri, artist Jacob Scott, and John Buck, of Te Mata Estate winery, who initiated the Laureate Award in 1996, presented David with the tokotoko Jacob had made. Christened Te Kore, it is a tall, imposing piece of maire, with a naturally occurring hole near the top – hence the name, Te Kore (the void of unlimited potential). Poetry followed the presentation as did songs from Taradale High School students Makayla Purcell and Isabelle Lorch, then a fine lunch.


On Saturday night the poets read, and Makayla and Isabelle sang again to an appreciative gathering at Toitoi in the Hastings Opera House for Poet’s Night Out. Chris Szekely, Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library, was on hand to announce that David’s term as Laureate will be extended by a year, until August 2022, in recognition of the impact Covid-19 has had on David’s public presence as Laureate this year.

The evening concluded with a spontaneous addition to the programme, when the Matahiwi whānau presented David with Te Kore for a second time and Charles Ropitini led the way in a lovely version of Whakaaria Mai.

We returned to Matahiwi on Sunday morning for breakfast and poroporoaki, then a light-hearted gathering in front of the house for photographs, before people headed off in various directions, home.

There was a sense of relief that we had made it to this important moment in the Laureate calendar. Originally planned for April this year, it was yet another casualty of Covid-19 and was postponed indefinitely, until last weekend, that is.


More media from the day


NZ Poet Laureate (Video) — Hawkes Bay Today


— Peter Ireland, Exhibition Specialist, and Poet Laureate ‘minder’, National Library

Voltage

A wavering green lizard tattoo
rides a tsunami out of the blue;
daylight swims through yellow leaf veins,
bouquets of scratches gifted you by thorns

Seeds arrive on a hawk's feathers,
sailed away from tussock fires;
rivers writhe and fall in thunder to boil
through rocks riven open to heaven.

Night's lightning plays hide and seek
in a tree, then blows apart the bark;
seven barbed wires, closely battened,
lead to a five-barred gate, grey-lichened.

This braided beauty is a mystery,
stealing along a turquoise tracery;
bruises of apples, stabbed by wasps,
mauve mountains count the cost.

Bitter leaves that cure, tea to brew,
berries eaten, a tongue to rue;
inside the tower of kauri heartwood,
a single window opens outwards.

Count zero in red to break thin ice,
shatter mud glaze to free your eyes;
glide a millennium round and round,
over Rūaumoko's stamping ground.

Buds of purple thyme scent warm air,
harlequin geckos gorge on bush nectar;
an ant dreams locked in amber gum,
white clouds shine crystalline in the sun.

— David Eggleton

Unleash the power of poetry

‘…I want to write a poem

                        like an impetuous kiss;
                        a poem like a sloth,
                        reaching for the last jungle branch
                        before the plantation begins…’

These lines from I want to write a poem, are from one of the two new poems by David, posted here for Poetry Day 2020. 'Clocks, Calendars, Nights, Days' is a recently revised version of the poem of the same name which appeared in David’s 2015 poetry collection The Conch Trumpet.

Thanks David, and more power to poets and poetry out there on poetry day. And every day.

 – Peter Ireland, National Library


Team Spirit

Cook Strait narrows and widens what we see.
Some possum tail curls into a quivery koru.
Moa bones assembled dissemble their origins.
The combed-over snow flurries off bare slopes.
Flickers of eyelids open on eyes bright
as new nailheads in rusty sheet iron.
We raise our phones till they vibrate in unison,
we save our bungy jumps for a mega-upload.
He's done decent time; he was once dog tucker,
and he's exited still breathing, but she was beaut
in an oil skin parka, out in the storm;
so then and there we all came through, more or
less as ordered, good as the apteryx.
The rains ravish ravines till wet slopes slip,
the back row rips it from the ruck in a rush.
Boots sink in mosses soft as rabbit fur.
At Skyscraper Park, they release the owls
to rouse bats that roost in the wrong places.
A good clean ball has been fed to the scrum,
they responded with oodles of niggle.
Lugged from Luggate to the Land of Mordor,
plucked from the maul, he legs it over to score.
That bloody go-getter's upping the ante,
squinnies into the wind, then steps backwards,
runs forward to pot the pill between posts.
Ball's lobbed to line-out, like an apple
with a grub inside thrown at the mongrel
worrying a sheep carcass to say, get lost.
A maggoty young barfly springs skywards
with the apocalyptic strength of ten.
Greasy ball moved fast as a passing glance,
a butterfly slides sideways in the breeze.
There's ample time to get a kick away.
The insider's insider receives ball, takes a punt,
follows like a hunting dog that's bailed a wild boar.
He's taken down, the ball's a headless chook
under the arm of a legless thinker.
A shoulder charge in a crowded beer barn
knocks wool from heads, brushes tea-tree from hair.
He's shaky as a lean-to in a southerly,
offers fifteen ways of saying, really?
Now ant turns antic and slug turns sluggard;
a try's been converted in extra time,
under doleful eyes of the losing side.

— David Eggleton

Clocks, Calendars, Nights, Days

Bitterness of bees dying out,
honeyless clouds, forest drought,
lights red, yellow, charcoal’s grain,
eyes smarting from a world on fire,
air thick with grit; cleave to it.
By clocks, calendars, nights, days.

Bog cotton frenzy of winter
dances erasure over hills,
leaf-litter's corrected by snow;
fog's quick to swallow the sea,
then start in on the shore.
By clocks, calendars, nights, days.

Skerricks of twigs skim high,
flung far from grips of fists;
remember to dip your bucket
deep into the morning sun,
but don’t drown in apathy.
By clocks, calendars, nights, days.

So, down in the earth’s mouth,
a slow song about the rain,
as you heave from the dark
to hear a thunderous beat
drumming on the old tin roof.
By clocks, calendars, nights, days.

By fast, by slow, by high, by deep;
by song, by dance, by laugh, by sleep;
by climb, by fall, by jump, by walk;
by chance, by breath, by cry, by talk;
by clocks, calendars, nights, days.
By clocks, calendars, nights, days.

— David Eggleton

I Want to Write a Poem

I want to write a poem
                        the colour of paracetamol,
                        the colour of Pinot Noir.
I want to write a poem
                        like an impetuous kiss;
                        a poem like a sloth,
                        reaching for the last jungle branch
                        before the plantation begins.
I want to write a poem
                        like a tight-rope walker
                        between the Twin Towers,
                        lit up by the rays of another sun
                        and a heavenly host of planets,
                        announcing God is great.
I want to write a poem
                        like a box kite,
                        a poem like a blue sky day,
                        a poem like a nor'wester in summer.
I want to write a poem
                        like a rusted car wreck,
                        like a collapsed bridge,
                        like a random punch,
                        like a sly foot-tap,
                        like a Māori haka,
                        like a fresh death mask,
                        like peel-off future proofing,
                        like the smile of a stolen girlfriend,
                        like the scent of Adieu Sagesse,
                        like gravestones, like time-bombs,
                        fractal geometry, orchestra tom-toms.
I want to write a poem
                        like the twilight zone,
                        like righteous incarceration,
                        like the steady pit-pat of the rain.

— David Eggleton

The Situation: Brian Potiki

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton


two breasts of wine, both red

 

give boys words,
not guns -
and girls words, not dolls -
to play with

most important,
fill the luxury hotels;
with poets and
give each a key to
the hotel wine cellar

 

 

an exile thinks of Bluff

 

at the north end of town
the footpaths have
twisted out of shape;
Bluff, if you like,
in its singlet

hillsides bare -
the gorse blooms pale there-
and the streets
(oh my dear!)
hang from the sides
like trousers
on the line

the old cemetery
faces Rakiura straight-on,
it’s only a glance away
but a long way in
memory

i’d be there now, really
if i could - 
but i’m stuck here
in the North Island
for good

—Brian Potiki

Brian Potiki biography

Brian Potiki and his partner Jill Walker. Image Bill Dacker.

Brian is a hardcore koro, with mokopuna spread between Hamilton and Blenheim. He fishes on Lake Rotoehu from a kayak. A musician, storyteller and playwright as well as a poet, his books include Aotearoa: Collected Poems and Songs, and Te Wai Pounamu, Your Music Remembers Me: four South Island history plays & their songs.

.

The Situation: Serie Barford

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton


If you were a tiputa

 

if you were a tiputa
I’d steal you from the museum

treat and preserve you

lift soil from your shoulders
with low pressure suction

divert the landslide
that swept you away

swab you with blotting paper
parcelled in acid free tissues

bathe you like a delicate artefact

lay you in humidification chambers
rehydrate your brittle parts

tenderly lacquer your frayed edges
patch gaping wounds with kozo

drape you over my shoulders
slumber within your bark cloth folds

press you against my heart

—Serie Barford

 

tiputa poncho-like garment made from barkcloth


The midwife and the cello


I was perched amongst pīngao
contemplating a paragliding instruction

Don’t look at what you want to miss

when a woman sat beside me

pointed at the lagoon’s mouth
breaking into hazardous surf

crooned   I’m a midwife
sing and play cello

I observed her eloquent hands
sand burying sprawling feet
lines networking a benevolent smile
dreads tied with frayed strips of cotton

remembered you returning home
buoyant with the miracle of birth

the baby with omniscient eyes
you eased into this world

how she lay within your arms

didn’t cry

—Serie Barford

Serie Barford biography

Smiling woman in front of a window with storks engraved on it.
Serie Barford. Image selfie by Serie Barford.

Serie was born in Aotearoa to a German-Samoan mother and a Palagi father. She was the recipient of a 2018 Pasifika residency at the Michael King Writers Centre. In 2019 Serie attended the launch of the Ukrainian version of her Tapa Talkpoetry collection in Kiev. Anahera Press plans to publish her latest poetry manuscript, Sleeping With Stones. Serie is currently writing poems and stories about the Casualisation of Toto/Blood in the Western Medical System.

The Situation: Fiona Farrell

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton


Excerpt from: Myth and Legend

The leader

We met them at a corner
on the road. Black tarmac
buckled over rise and dip,
the tap tap of a donkey’s
hooves.The man walked
as in the illustrations, the
woman rode upon the
donkey’s bones, hand
cupping her belly as if
it were a fig, ripe to
bursting. As in the
illustrations. Torn shirt,
faded blue and threadbare,
her skin cracking under
the sun.

They appeared beyond the
mirage, floating towards
us on water, weightless and
unafraid. And then she gave
a mighty groan, slid from
the donkey’s back and
squatted under a barren tree.

And it was as in the illustrations,
the sleek black circle of the
skull between folds of crimson
flesh, then his ferocious face,
his  shoulders slithering into
dry leaf and his fists already
raised. She howled, called us
to come and see. And it was as
in the illustrations, but without
camel, sheep or the flutter of
white wings.

We recognized him.

Here was our bold leader!

Our salvation!

But it was late and the sun
was sliding, the moon its
pale shadow. So we left
them there, trudged on.

We did not have time to
wait, hoping he might grow.

—Fiona Farrell


Fiona Farrell biography

Black background, blonde woman wearing black coat with hear brooch
Fiona Farrell. Image Caroline Davies.

Fiona Farrell’s first novel The Skinny Louie Book won the New Zealand Book Award in 1993. Since then three of her five novels have been shortlisted for the award, while four have been longlisted for the International Dublin IMPAC Award. Her poetry and non-fiction have also received recognition and her plays continue to be among the most frequently performed in Playmarket NZ’s catalogue. Her poetry and fiction appear in many anthologies. She has been a guest at festivals throughout New Zealand and overseas. In 2007 she received the Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction and in 2102, the ONZM for Services to Literature.

The Situation: Albert Wendt

The Situation 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa

‘The Situation 2020’ is a kind of Poet Laureate's Choice of work from Aotearoa New Zealand poets for the Poet Laureate blog. Essentially, it will be a portfolio of poetry, posted over the next while, from a range of poets whose work I have enjoyed reading recently: interesting poems for interesting times.

— David Eggleton

And so it is

we want so many things and much

What is real and not? What is the plan?

Our garden is an endless performance
of light and shadow  quick bird and insect palaver

The decisive wisdom of cut basil informs everything
teaches even the black rocks of the back fence to breathe

Blessed are the flowers  herbs and vegetables
Reina has planted in their healing loveliness

The hibiscus blooms want a language to describe their colour
I say the red of fresh blood or birth

A lone monarch butterfly flits from flower to flower
How temporary it all is how fleeting the attention

The boundary palm with the gigantic Afro is a fecund nest
for the squabble of birds that wake us in the mornings

In two weeks of succulent rain and heat our lawn
is a wild scramble of green that wants no limits

Into the breathless blue sky the pohutukawa
in the corner of our back yard stretches and stretches

Invisible in its foliage a warbler weaves a delicate song
I want to capture and remember like I try to hold

all the people I’ve loved or love
as they disappear into the space before memory

Yesterday I pulled up the compost lid
to a buffet of delicious decay and fat worms feasting

Soil  earth  is our return  our last need and answer
beyond addictive reason  fear and desire

Despite all else the day will fulfil its cycle of light and dark
and I’ll continue to want much and take my chances

 —Albert Wendt

 

Incantation

 Over the Waitakere the sky darkens and darkens

In its belly the faint blink of lightning
Barely audible thunder a few seconds later
Then thick rivulets of rain weave down
the bare branches of the kowhai beside him

Isabella  Te Wera  Tehaaora  Hohepa  Ashley  Tahu  Sina 
Caleb  Moengaroa  Amelia  Orlando  Maika
His mokopuna’s names slip  sparkle and burn in
the heart of his tongue  an incantation
which lifts him above the storm

He turns his palms upwards
but the storm doesn’t care to read them
Storms happen and the kowhai loses its leaves
according to the pacing and intention of the seasons
What is there at the end of leafing?

Some of his mokopuna will grow into prophetic readers
some will stumble early into the irresistible darkness
some will help wash and prepare his body for cremation
Outside his umbrella cover he extends his hands
Icy raindrops tattoo his palms but he can’t read the patterns

The caves along the rugged range of his history
 are stacked with carefully labelled files of loved ones
and the intruders he can’t exile into oblivion:
His father in his khaki work clothes is suddenly beside him 
whispering  ‘the storm has no power and will end shortly’

Fundamentalist faith  eyeless analysis and courage had been
his father’s basis of navigation with an all-knowing God
as central pivot of the Star Map he had made them all live by
until he was in the ultimate court and he couldn’t decipher
in speech his Map’s purpose and the dawn of the second coming

His mother has been a decisive eloquence over the sixty years since
she died of cancer and became his most precious presence
Always he has desired her understanding of the heart’s
whispering darkness and her acceptance of the future
and the unhealable pain of separation

The dark above the Waitakere has melted away
The rain has ceased but his hands are numb with cold
The bare branches of the kowhai are sleekly black with wet
The choice is to be here with his mokopuna and parents
The continuation is that of alofa and forgiveness

Isabella  Te Wera  Tehaaora  Hohepa  Ashley  Tahu  Sina 
Caleb  Moengaroa  Amelia  Orlando  Maika
Luisa  Tuaopepe …. the incantation will continue
to shape  soothe and unread his present

—Albert Wendt


Albert Wendt biography

Smiling Samoan man.
Albert Wendt. Image Raymond Sagapolutele

Maualaivao Albert Wendt is considered internationally as one of Samoa’s, Aotearoa’s, and the Pacific’s most influential novelists and poets. He has published numerous novels, and collections of poetry and short stories. He has won many honours and awards, including New Zealand’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand.