She’s driving south in a tiny hatchback
Full of boxes and two violins.
I wish I’d taken a photo.
Every wheel turn, every road turn,
Takes her from the chuckling harbours,
Generous flat land, draped volcanoes
And the wide-open welcoming trees.
I bet the car’s swallowing the road’s white lines
Like a Waitemata snapper catching piper fish.
Shared Auckland moments will become for her,
Like carousel horses that curve away, vanish,
To return another time maybe up, maybe down.
Non-living, complete, unchanging.
Memory turns Time into re-visitable Space
Where photographs can act as road signs.
But she’s too young to use the rear view mirror
And I never saw her take a photo.
Discrete clouds, long and low, pose as though for an art class.
We are sitting on a sea wall, at the end of a winter day,
Admiring brave teens swimming at Mission Bay
We shiver in our bulky clothes and see
Babies wheeled along in a blanket-piled pram
And a girl in sequinned shorts pose for Instagram.
We promise to not argue anymore.
Slow dogs, heavy eyed with responsibility,
Guide their couples round the bole of a pohutukawa tree.
You smile up at Rangitoto. I prepare to take a photo
Just as a cloud skylight opens and throws its glow cone
On those teen swimmers in the golden sea below.
We now hope the volcano ‘s arms are wide enough
For us to be embraced, hugged snug,
Inside his warm green polar fleece.
We have made out peace.
At dawn the toddler’s fat fingers reach toward a ball
That plays music as it tumbles around her,
And my phone alarm sings a dawn chorus to me.
I turn it off and get up for the toddler
Who is crying because the ball,’s rolled away.
Starting in the East birds sing at every point
Where sunlight awakens our tumbling globe.
As each longitude line is lit different birds
Sing different dawn songs on musical earth.
The giants above like to roll our sphere
Because they love to hear the birds’ dawn songs.
What will they do when no birds sing anymore?
We are between floors.There are no windows.
A finite space. Clear boundaries. No surprises.
We look in the direction of travel
Though we have no control of our descent.
Whose face do those green sparkling heels belong to?
I think of Jonah in his whale, How at first
It must have been like entering a cathedral at dusk
But when the whale sounded, how like this plummeting lift.
Knees brace discretely. Men spread their feet.
Those green heels wobble. We stop. Door glides open.
Dante or Milton may have called it Hell, the barrier
Of bulging briefcases and Lego faces waiting there,
Inert, to ascend. Those heels tap. Someone pushes.
Every second counts. Goodbye Jonah. This is lunchtime.
Parents bunched at the start/finish line
All leaning in one direction,
Eyes on a corner of a classroom
Across the playing field
Where tall trees cast dark shadows
On such a sunny day.
They had temporarily lost all knowledge
Of the whereabouts of their five year olds
Who had run away from them
Around a much nearer corner
And gone, who knows how far away.
Some grandparents among those waiting
Remembered Apollo 8, Christmas 1968
Disappearing behind the moon
And we on Earth waiting in the dark,
Not knowing what to say
Or even how to pray.
Three crosses in the trees,
Three small white tee shirts,
The first children out of gloom into glory.
And the parents not knowing
Till this moment -Who ? Who? –
How their five year old had measured up.
The three front runners raced past, waving, winners.
Back then the astronauts had quoted Genesis,
Mission Control jumped up and down,
And Earthlings squared their shoulders and knew
Three of their own had come out in front.
Losing things becomes more dangerous the older we get
Because others assume our decline into oblivion
So we search alone.
Searching is frightening because it is time-travel, backwards,
Remembering what we were thinking and who we were
When we lost the thing.
We lose things because we have things to lose.
Our temper, rings, hair, family keepsakes,
And our dignity.
Sometimes we find something we weren’t looking for –
Coins in a pocket, faith, love,
An old friend in need.
Today I will pre-empt loss by discarding everything,
Then I will stand on the lawn and watch dandelions
All their sky-bound seeds.
In June it is not only the last leaves that fall.
Everywhere in every garden grapefruit, oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes,
Hang on thin stalks, dangling memories of summer sun,
And we are ungrateful.
They thud on the shed roof, roll in the sagging gutter,
Plash to the lawns, the berms, the courtyards, the decks, the pavements,
Their generosity too profuse, too prolific,
And we are ungrateful.
Six perfect mandarins, at the supermarket, in a plastic box,
Each one with a label to make it real.
The fruit is dry in the centre,
Segment divisions like furry polar fleece.
We say you can’t get good oranges these days,
And we are ungrateful.