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LAMENT FOR A NORTH ISLAND LAND ASSOCIATION
1
Virtue of it! To glisten, sleek
as covetous summer’s hoyden womanflesh,
as fecund after.
Coveted, fought over, cheated for was
covered. Horned, ploughed at,
she took seed and yielded
if not without expense in hardship, a tithe
in heartbreak. Proved, one of sisterhood
inconstant in promise, as of demand.
She more reserved to private judgment
than was taken into your accounts,
you founding fathers, who (standing
advantaged) looked around:
acres and acres discovered themselves
fit to be described in a language
sexually figured.
Also, in language fitted to deceive
investors lying abroad. Deceit was
shrewder than you counted out,
pound by pound.
In your long enough run, easy to go wise
after your events. You had
her, ringed with hills, serving her
almost as you would (her rivers,
her startling moods of dryness excepted).
What ledgers told, shrewdly
she discounted.
2
Hardihood came easier
for the stupid singleminded
as old rams, but the spiritually bankrupt
did not better than men who learned
their credit lapsed.
Perversely, she warned.
And you mistook them, her gestures
which meant she was not wholly knuckled
under.
          Drought, yes, and hillsides slipping
(in earliest season) raiders’
murderous parties over the Line,
and floods.
                  Project by project,
your reckoning dealt with these
however they renewed,
mechanically.
                       The machinery, of Law,
machinations of those who served
(they said) laws’ ends; and were solemn,
not ironic. Or engineers, shooting
rounds of angles, lacing the surface –
you thought thus to master.
Skindeep, only. You became hers.
We have heard all this before.
Facile to read into devastations
that she opposed you, dramatic,
intemperate.
                    By calamity
you were congratulated.
She did not always dignify you so.
3
Her moods were hinted even to the birds.
Firing on the frontier died out
softly. Yet habit held. Lacking nigs
suitable for targeting, you brought in
pigeons. They would not rise.
They took to earth when traps were opened.
They budged reluctantly, pelted hard with clods.
Your guns were foiled, you scarcely banged
the fowl. They were poor sports.
They would not rise.
4
She drew them, urged them, Lie low.
Hey derry down! they went. Your shotguns
married and marred, your hounds’ voices
jarred, her browbeaten tinder spaces.
She sulked. The times turned sour.
It was woman defied her, schemed to rise
on updraft of civil franchise
from Sydney Square, Hamilton:
Miss Leila Adair, an aeronaut
with parachute and balloon,
no basket. She rode up on a trapeze,
speeding and swaying. Did she kiss
her hand to the earth-bound – then hiss
untimely, a serpentine volleying smoke
from the bag, another gust like
the first . . . you panted, you sped
as the parachutes opened, silk spread
to pace return, spared from cruel fall,
landed the lady light as gossamer smack
among gorse by the Hibernian Hall.
She was not to be defied. You were hers.

                                                                          (?). 7. 71
Editor's note
Lament for a North Island Land Association : first published in Dwarf with a Billiard Cue ; KS note in Dwarf reads: ‘Such associations were exploitative and speculative.  Their characters have been explored by R.J.C. Stone. The scene generously is in  the Waikato. The raiders of (2) are venturers like those who figure in Chapter II of  C.W. Vennell's The Brown Frontieror in Chapter XII of James Cowan’s The Old  Frontier . In (3) are brought together matters from letters of William Gilbert Mair and an anecdote about the first Gun Club’s misfortune, probably from H.C.M. Norris, to  whose second volume I can confidently assign the story of Miss Leila Adair (from  Settlers in Depression).’
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