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Hardboiled eggs, cold sausages,
tomatoes, with mouthfuls of a hot
afternoon like a bad habit
peppered by sandy dust. Pursuit
of liberty, a pursuit of seaways
misreported on a map. When we got near
they went elsewhere, discarding
salicorn meadows or tussocky swamplands.
We peered between fragments
of eggshell cloud and sausage-coloured
grass fringes, perspectives flattened,
beaten smooth with sun strokes. One hit
smack on the wen of the harbour’s south head.
Beyond (you know) is Ocean, the Great Eater,
who once, out of sight, almost beyond credit,
into her maw took my not-so-old father
to crack a thighbone in one foul bite
but spat him out, slack on his barque’s deck,
so that he should live to gender me.
Everything looks so benign, pleasant,
however sticky hot. I have not travelled
this way before. I doubt that we shall
travel this way again, having a quite same
persuasion of the casual inconsequent.
This paper has a plan we cannot read
because sun’s too strong perhaps,
the waters snake-eyed, or because
whitened cloud is smudging slowly
while three furious girls drive past
an elderly black Jaguar, wrangling
over a map which looks like ours.
                                                          9. 1. 68
Editor's note
Consequences: first publication: salicorn: sea asparagus; the setting is probably the Kaipara Harbour on the west coast north of Auckland
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