This page will be devoted to the weekly poems I am featuring on my Facebook page. They are from my former newspaper column Scanning the South. Some have been published in my books Reach for a Poem and The Catlins Collection. I hope to post a new poem each week.
I wrote this poem soon after the Erebus tragedy, having stood outside in Invercargill gazing at the night sky in the vain hope the overdue plane might have come to us.
EREBUS, the ICE DRAGON
South to where journeys can have no return.
South to Scott, blinding blizzard, ice clench
where snow can reveal then conceal
what it did,
what it hid.
South was their wonder, converging direction,
longitudinal longing of so many lives.
South was their fate in the callous deception
of snow that was sky
and sky that was snow;
where white blinded sight,
where above was below.
We wanted them back, scanned the sky
on that night for the sight
of a plane overdue - blazed runway car lights
in the desperate vain hope of guiding them home.
But by then, all together, by then, quite alone
they were waiting for us
to gaze down where they were,
find their ‘plane,
see that stain.
Erebus, Ice Dragon, volcanic heat
hidden crouched in the ice,
in their path, in their flight,
thought to snatch them and keep them.
But each one came home
to the hearts and the minds
of the Family of Love.
Erebus, warm in a lost world of snow.
Memory, warm as the empty years flow.
We live on the edge of Foveaux Strait between the South Island of NZ and Stewart Island. This is often an inspiration to me. This photo shows Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island from Oreti Beach where we regularly walk.
FOVEAUX STRAIT, STEWART ISLAND
Tiwai chimney smudges clouds
as we enter ocean -
- heaving slate with sky sheen gleam.
Unknown to Cook was this slash of storm
between the south and outpost edge.
A fishing boat ploughs past us, heavy,
swallowed by the waves in wake,
regurgitated, masthead first
from folds of swollen striving sea.
Cape pigeon, mollymawk skim the troughs
til spray-soaked updraughts fling them back
to soar and swoop on tilted wings.
Approach the island . . .
rocks awash, like seals emerging
kelp-festooned to reach the air.
Near the bays are crested penguins
swimming, fishing, calling shrill,
and broad-loomed bullkelp leather-lolling
on the heavy breathing tide.
Bush-shouldered bays, a steepled church,
landfall boatsheds wade the calm.
photo: Lynley Dear
GORSE OF COURSE!
Exactly the shade of an A.A. sign,
DANGEROUS COLOUR FOR THE NEXT 10 K.
Boisterous horn-blowing plant,
flagrant amber rambles over
its own orange line.
But gorse takes over -
paddocks, hills; flaunts its colour.
Springtime’s hard-case relative
in hussy hues, it scorns
the prim of primrose, pallid daffodil
and revs away to break the rules.
This clockwork orange ticks; a time bomb,
seed pods explode in midday heat,
ignore the signs, park out of bounds.
Scottish heather swoons all over
purple hillsides, praised and sung,
respectable and staid
But outlaw gorse kicks over traces,
yellow yahoos in farmers’ faces.
Yet just sniff that dame’s knock-out perfume,
but much more in your face . . .
That’s gorse of course,
out of control
and all over the place!