Princes Street, Auckland, on the Shortest Day

The sky, a sodden Carrara ceiling, can drip anywhere, anytime.
The root-rutted pavement disguised by slippery leaves
Can let you down, anywhere, anytime, and it won’t be softly.
I’m rugged up and wearing a frown.
Auckland’s untrustworthy in leaky mid-winter.

But I have a bag full of poetry from the 821’s at the library,
And a book of Matisse drawings to go with Leonard Cohen songs,
And I’ve looked at some Lois White faces in the Art Gallery
For far too long. I got lost in there. Everyone does.
Even that warm haven is untrustworthy.

Now I’m in Albert Park, with its hedges of clipped box,
How upstanding, reliable, Victorian and trustworthy.
But the park is full of grassy marshy open spaces
As well as grasping statues, and clumps of struggling begonias
Amongst which a tourist sinks lower, wetter. Her hand shakes
While she focuses on her partner who’s posing like a marble Laocoon
Fending off untrustworthy writhing pohutukawa snakes.

Now a man in a little cherry picker, like a man in a flowerpot.
Even perspective today is untrustworthy. He presses a button
And up he goes, with cloth and bucket, to stand face to face
With Queen Victoria on her pedestal. He is wearing overalls.
Oh nothing today is in its proper place.
And now, now he is wiping the smile from her face.

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