this afternoon
of low-tide cloud
where the shoreline
smooths out for the harbour’s’
run into the sea that rides in
roughshod over it in
swell and surf
i was looking
for that other summer
washing my hands
from a dig into mud to
see if those cockles you
gathered in bucketfuls
were still about
was washing my hands
in the sea and the waves
drifted a feather into
my fingers, a gull feather,
down near the marae
the tainui waka buried
safe there under a rise
of earth, stones stood
to mark bow and stern
it’s said could an open
craft have been that small
to ride out pacific storms?
what do i know….
buried safe under the rise
of a people and their king,
uncle charlie and aunty dorothy’s
place was up that end of
this beach town
i would walk past the
buried canoe wondering
why the precious and
sacred is best left in earth
the best respect we can afford
every time i traipsed to the
shops for a grocery order penned
on a folded envelope and given
enough to buy an ice-cream as well
that afternoon dad and uncle charlie
out on the sandy lawn and uncle charlie
showing dad how to handle his new rod
and fast action reel when their ginger cat
swiped the dangling hook with his paw and caught
it fast and took off under the house with dad in a panic
reeling out the line to let this four legged fish like this memory
run where it would and dad and uncle charlie gone years ago now
crawling in under the house and managing to grab the poor animal
and unhook the line
such are our histories
sunk into the softest part
of us and tear whenever we
move in a false direction
i’d like to think

that summer i did not find,
only this feather of words
of a bird long flown,
found only the tide
with that mountain*
in storm that stands
at the head of the
and the waves
drifted a feather into
my fingers

december 2017
kawhia, moonbridge

*mt pirongia

Copyright ©2017 Peter Le Baige.  All Rights Reserved


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