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That sort of place where you stop
long enough to fill the tank, buy plums,
          perhaps, and an icecream thing on a stick
while somebody local comes
          in, leans on the counter, takes a good look
               but does not like what he sees of you,
intangible as menace,
a monotone with a name, as place
          it is an aspect of human spirit
(by which shaped), mean, wind-worn. Face
          outwards, over the saltings: with what merit
               the bay, wise as contrition, shallow
as their hold on small repute,
good for dragging nets which men are doing
          through channels, disproportionate in the blaze
of hot afternoon’s down-going
          to a far fire-hard tide’s rise
               upon the vague where time is distance?
It could be plainly simple
pleasure, but these have another tone
          or quality, something aboriginal,
reductive as soil itself – bone
          must get close here, final
               yet unrefined at all. They endure.
A school, a War Memorial
Hall, the store, neighbourhood of salt
          and hills. The road goes through to somewhere else.
Not a geologic fault
          line only scars textures of experience.
               Defined, plotted; which maps do not speak.
                                                                                    11. 1. 68
Editor's note
Colville: first published in Westerly 3 (October 1968), 33; also in Earthquake Weather and Selected Poems; a town on the Coromandel Peninsula
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