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Outfall, and downfall for more than
you’d easily reckon. Wayward raiding
clans bound for home passed over, Marsden
passed over, a handful of traders later,
canoes like flax pods let sift and shift.
Now the first white settlers’ party,
that’s another story. They found
bland face of the land turned against them,
fell into the tides’ mouth,
were chewed and spat miles away, years ago.
Not many remember Sophia Pate.
Or those after: one called Posthumus,
one Resolution, one Daring,
mere handful of those were called to the bars,
sifted, strawed. Smashed, and sank.
A tally of wreck. Some are unlucky.
Forests cut out, their mills stopped singing.
A few more years They closed the harbour.
Keepers walked out of the light at the heads.
There is promise and that which is not
promised. Futures are only possible.
Fishermen thrive by taking shark livers,
crosscutting waters schemed for nuclear ponds.
Farms need their chemical shot in the arm.
Otherwise they don’t dream well.
A dry time in the city, a bad time.
When rains finally come, winds come too.
Downtown it’s hard to keep your balance.
Nothing is promised. Look down another
harbour, another season. The clock on
the Ferry Building has nothing to tell you
you may possibly want to know.
The evening paper tells you
authority cannot afford to heal the Building.
It’s sick, polluted. All of us, maybe.
Some people call it, being alive.
                                                                       26. 3. 77
Editor's note
Harbours : first publication; Sophia Pate etc.: ships wrecked on the heads of Kaipara Harbour in the mid nineteenth century
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