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GETTING TO SLEEP
Sleep, make your compacts,
versions of how to cope
with your antiquity, its conflicts
with whatever your situation is.
There is an art in dreaming well;
therapy, in practising at arts.
That much I heard somewhere, thought it
over, dozy in a hot pool at Waiwera.
Steaming clouds, like dreams among hibiscus.
Owls called beyond, lights’ circles
blurring dropped rumoured mortality
phrase by phrase, like dropping the one
stone in the one pool, resonant.
Not dreams’ fantastics or grotesques
you find hard for treaty.
The other night I dreamt solid,
three dimensional, with colour, tonality,
texture: a chapel, seen through fieldglasses.
Its plan octagonal, starshaped;
its walls cream, enormous timber roofing
dark-brown as almost black,
folded and pleated. At the star-points
vertical planks met the roof.
Everything wooden was carved
to tell: a Maori Adam, a Maori Eve
in a Maori garden, falling. A Michael
who was Maori wrestled a taniwha.
A bearded Maori Father watched,
approving the outcome.
And so on, a Creation wholly reasonable.
Whereas, on the Orewa beach front
in that same evening a middleaged couple
followed a Siamese cat on a lead –
where the cat went, they went, watched
by a young camel with a reddish-brown coat
grazing near the conveniences.
The camel was startled from time to time
by cough of seal, outcry
of sea elephant, at Marineland.
Then I was not easy in myself
ailing of some antique state
or of offence, unnamed, to reason.
                                                                          25. 6. 71
Editor's note
Getting to Sleep first published in Lipsync 2 (December 1972), 20; also in Dwarf with a Billiard Cue and Selected Poems ; Waiwera and Orewa : beach settlements north of Auckland, the former having hot pools; KS’ note in Dwarf reads: ‘The dream was vivid. Later I realised how much it owed to Mervyn Taylor woodcuts made in the ‘forties. The encounter with the camel was on the same evening as I saw the dwarf with a billiard cue. The cat is a friend of mine named Kodiak’; Mervyn Taylor : E. Mervyn Taylor (1906-64), New Zealand artist who specialized in wood cuts and engravings
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