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NORTH AND WEST
Butcher, baker, storekeeper maybe,
the man who has the Post Office contract,
deliver along that road which has next
to nowhere to go and all day
to get there. Metal fades,
offhandedly turning into a beach
overshadowed by a State Forest’s hills.
The quarry no longer crushes
anyone’s hopes.
Each prospect in landscape opens/closes
invincibly sown with salt.
Sawyers, blunted, rust; they become
shapes of old men, irrelevant
as stale news. Both sides of the road
abandoned schemes look like brokendown shanties
unable to resist winds’ polishing them
paper thin. Action is
virtually an act of contrition,
visited on those who are heirs
to farms under-capitalized,
their acreage uneconomic.
Often, confused about titles.
They milk few cows, graze not enough sheep,
breed too many kids
for a depleted county. A school shrinks
from rowdy seas roughly a mile
before the nominal end, near a Catholic church
with a hall. Above, a burial ground
on a sandy knoll. Between a marae
and an ocean, dunes expose
middens which reflect intently.
Responsibility and authority lie together.
With the dead, tested or ceded by
those who live in clichés,
hanging on to a language which may
not comprehend, patois of leached earth.
The young envy Stormtroopers,
longing
to wear uniformly gear like leather
jacketed habits, to speak with voices
exciting as twin chrome exhausts.
Whoever published a dream
(on an oil drum at the front gate
where bread and meat are left
and the mail comes in
from a State house enclave in town)
made gesture work, words failing.
Six or seven whacks with a paint brush
did it, a hakenkreuz. They do not
understand. We do not understand.
                                                          8. 3. 71
Editor's note
North and West : first published in The Seal in the Dolphin Pool ; the setting is west coast of Northland; hakenkreuz : swastika
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