Each action valiant, he fenced
he swore, he laboured, gradually
shaping the steep land to the image
in his mind. Southerly busters would
see him out, warm tea with a slosh
of whisky in a bottle, assisting in
the bitter wind a birth, skinning
the dead & mothering on the living.
A refusal to suckle was a personal
failure. My heresy (they’ll only go
to the works) was ill-received, his
pride in the high percentage a cover
for exclusive acts of creation &
salvation. Felling the pines over-
shadowing the house he discovered
a magpie pair nesting. He stopped
cutting, ‘they’ll keep the hawks away
from the chickens & ducklings’ &
placed abandoned yard eggs in
the warming oven. Season after
season as water tumbled down
the bush-shrouded creeks, he
wrestled irritable Southdown
rams across the board, shore
them without a cut & then with
tenderness booted each one down
the ramp for my hot branding pot.
Great was the harnessing of
the big horse – swingletree &
sledge ready for the herculean contest.
How the sparks flew.
PORT LEVY HILLTOP
Uncoiling bracken raises
the clutched bidibid
car-high cocksfoot ripples
bees browse at clover
nesting magpies hold court
while under konini cattle stare.
Below, loomed waves
pattern the empty beach
beyond the chunky hills
and the Waimak curling
to a vaguer horizon
clear blue in the east.
Elsewhere the sky is
slashed by a nor-west arch
- Nor-west –
how quickly the wind wilted
the flowers on your grave.
Dick. You farmed land like this.