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SOMETHING IN THE AIR
Dust perhaps, or pollen. You have to live
with it, like taxes; it costs, being a nation:
a rash, some puffiness, itching, some troubled breath,
streaming nose. what to commemorate
on a day like that, no laughing matter?
You never know when you’ll be overtaken.
So near to Christmas, before the rush,
purpose need not be specified. Unit by unit
the motel wakes. Children complain as birds at their singular business.
Men put bait and beer into chillybins.
Motors announce, offshore on a good ground
with a useful breeze Marsden approaches.
He has tidings, he will make you fishers
if you follow me. Fast after sunrise
high humidity turns to sluggish drizzle.
If anyone went climbing Maiki they wouldn’t be able
to see across Rangihoua, the outcome, let alone
further. Go fish in unacknowledged waters.
This is not something to sneeze at
however racked, or sceptical. Nor to blame
air alone.
               Papers reported wells contaminated,
thought to be an unknown factor in the soil,
or, merely a version of a human effluent.
The Shell Lady met walking over the hill from Opito
     will be startled at your outburst but merrily
wish you "Gesundheit!" It’s going to be
that sort of day, with a nod and a wink.
                                                                                ..? April 85
Editor's note
Something in the Air : first publication; the setting is the Bay of Islands; Maiki: also known as Flagstaff Hill, where Ngapuhi chief Hone Heke cut down the flagstaff carrying the Union Jack on four occasions in 1844-45; Rangihoua is where Samuel Marsden preached the first Christian service in New Zealand on Christmas Day 1814; Opito: in Bay of Islands, Northland ; Gesundheit : good health, the appropriate German response to a sneeze
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