LAMENT FOR A NORTH ISLAND LAND ASSOCIATION
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
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
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
Drought, yes, and hillsides slipping
(in earliest season) raiders’
murderous parties over the Line,
Project by project,
your reckoning dealt with these
however they renewed,
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,
you were congratulated.
She did not always dignify you so.
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.
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