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                         The edge went soured with element
where the near-dead child took in one hand
     a banner brown as foam and in the other hand took
          a deadwhite shell; he shook
               water’s least clutch from him staggering the sand
                    in his west wind’s hale sweep through a descent
all curd and cloud. Haze heaved on gull but not clement
               his coast wept him there salt, stained him whose strand
wound thirty years on and off in sleighting his watching.
                         Almost I outgrow my child
who demands me back shore-roving
      but his gust again breeds at crease and tremble
          green slakes to its white angle
               pouring a howl loud into scoured toss or waving
                    its old man’s hairs like Lear, and wild
as wise Lear reft homeless. One raw Saturday failed
               my ship home, shaped me last for leaving
a too long bided child for the walk-away gale.
                         For, however clung, it was a day
which had sometime to blow, that it spell
     off delayed years of a boy’s concealing
          in marram trove or in falling
               dune, though not all is said its last well
                    meant farewelling, nor will at a lost game play
itself meekly out by a word, be at a gesture spun away.
               Fresh as forever the breakers then, as grey
in their distance squalls cannily slipped, and drifted.
                         Losing and tossed I watched
a youngest dig as his father deep, and sprint over
     a reach which leaked first by his foot marked,
          and in my surrendering rocked,
               deeding him title to this, his right to discover
                    his own shell, wave borne, his own patched
tattered made-over windbreaker to wear in the lashed
               rail of his due, in the rant of his weather.
For all tomorrow tracked him, running his sand away.
                         Neither is leaving to be quit
whole in one day, walked into nor stalked finally out
     as man or child but in mankind’s always shaken
          hold is untimely set. Waken
               your boy in his hood back from his wail and shout
                    in tomorrow’s yesterday chopped like a bit
of timber draughting his tides’ round and about
               with gulls’ bland dispatch, and a gull’s wit
in the offsetting hurl allow print or blot its sand.
                         But cull your digged year’s oath
today off and black Lear be for too little a time
     at the climbed head pounced over that prospect
          shades away north in a seemly fact
               not distance dims out, nor scrubs name
                    off your fondest telling. Is faith
other than this, a sure unworded clutch at your breath?
               Now blackback, gannet, redbill, hawk shame
me citizen, if too meekly I drink at those miles.
                                                                                            8. 7. 57
Editor's note
Muriwai 1957: first published in Inheritance; Muriwai is a beach on the West Coast NW of Auckland
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