Mount Maunganui Pier
On a wooden pier
Rising and falling with the swell,
From which blue and yellow ferries
Cross the harbour to Tauranga,
Fishermen are gathered
To the seaward side;
In T shirts, shorts, cotton hats and baseball caps
Faded, bagged, slouched,
Comfortable in the litter
of beer cans, lines, nets,
The baggage of sea fishing
In casual orderliness,
Across the rough, oil stained, salt rimed slats;
Underneath cormorants bob and preen
Waiting scraps; moving in and out
Of the planes of sun and shade.
Two fishermen tense to cast;
Two-handed they hold the long rods
Above their heads
Military in silhouette
Against the reddening sky
As if waiting a seaward assault
Braced, stock-still, disciplined
Then pivoting sharply
And whip forward the twitching
Drawing a slow indolent
line across the sky;
White spray flowers bloom and wilt;
The fishermen relax back into the day
And their easy chat.
The Time of Mysteries
The year is winding down in this wood,
Challenging in the slow rot all senses.
The earth settles back into its folds;
There is a damp cold breath
Hanging sour and sullen over the shorn fields.
This is a time of mysteries
In the balances struck:
The plaid of light and dark;
The play of growth and decay;
The soft reluctant dying into the promise of life
Held in suspension in the cooling soil.
For now day and night are equal champions,
(I have seen, specimen-pinned,
A moon in a blue sky).
Cock beck, unraveling a lined page over stones,
Moves a browning bracken patch;
Hooded under a slash of red-berried hawthorn,
A single white green fiddlehead uncurls.
Rooted in tilth of leaf and fern it is optimistic,
An Autumn latecomer.
I sit and eat bread and nuts under the shelter
Of a crone-backed bush.
I line up acorns;
Place pine cones in circles.
Maybe there is a rightness, an equilibrium,
In my stopping here, in this wood.
The grass is bent, my footprints clear;
How far ahead is the open field?
I have a journey to make through this wood
And no fern will sustain me past the first frost.
The View From the Hotel Il Nido
Looking from Sorrento, the bay
Flattens into a double-bladed axe
Astride my sight line to Naples;
Twin edges honed bright, shining in
The break of wave against distant beach.
Each morning the city emerges from the mist,
A grisaille: bleached and monotonous,
It is a model city;
Faking perspective and depth,
Cheating the taking and holding of a view,
Later in the sun shimmer,
An impressionist landscape, it offers slabs of colour and shadow,
Stacked and angled defiantly against each other.
A new city appears for the day,
Teases, obscure and unknowable, before
Returning to the darkness spreading up the mountain.
And out of this art history my mother’s face suggests,
A shifting emulsion,
Shimmering oil on the water;
Five years dead she comes to me
In the makings of a face
Believers might con from cloud pattern to be comforted
At home I display photographs of her in rictus poses,
Suspicious, only the record of a moment in a landscape or room.
Held stiff, as if a lapse in concentration might discover her;
The picture and the person immiscible.
Each morning from the balcony
I have raised the camera and sought focus
I cannot fix these images.