Saturday, June 13, 2009

Near Kaeo


Hills are lit as for McCahon, mangroves
reflect the slanted sun, tourist coaches
race across the reclaimed flats while placid
Friesians graze between the arum and the flax.

Near here, early Wesleyans, their wives as well,
sought by action to turn their needs into belief –
also profit. Did they pause to watch the evening
hills lit like this? Diaries tell of tribal alarms,

shipwrecks, forbidding peaks, obedience, sermons
and the fires of hell; letters speak of muskets,
flour and faith, of planting acorns, sinners,
schism and defeat. By all accounts a dour people.

We their heirs, must judge with much less haste
lest our descendants be equally unkind to us,
their unrepentant forbears, who haven’t sailed
half a world nor ever tried to build Jerusalem.

This poem is from my first volume Against the Maelstrom.

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