Aotearoa North Meets South

It feels a world away.

This jagged rock face

the dry, bitter winds

whistling through thorny Rosehip and Mataguri

over tussocks of yellow moss.

Air so cool and fresh in my lungs that it

stings my nostrils and pinkins my cheeks.

 

This place, these shortened sunlight days,

could not be more in contrast

to the sticky heat of the bush.

 

Linen off the line that comes in never quite dry.

Ferns curled as Kora

dripping with condensation.

A constant plume of flying insects following everyone, swarming on the golden beaches.

Sand in my shoes, salt in my hair.

Hot, humid nights, staring at the ceiling, trying not to move.

Early, curtainless mornings with the sun rising into orange hue.

After a seemingly endless day, the sun drops slowly into the blue ocean.

Crumbling clay banks coming alive with glow worms.

The dull ache of tired bones after a long summer.

 

So different now, as I sit amid swathes of blankets and cushions,

curtains half drawn

log burner bellowing dry heat

watching the steam rise from a cup of tea.

I look at the mountains dusted in snow.

The lake, glass-like, reflects that very same sky.

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Friable.
A word used by the surgeon in a postoperative letter to me
to describe my insides.
I squinted at it, breathed out heavily.

Friable.
The soil crumbled beautifully between the prongs of the fork.
The smell of damp decay rising gently to my nostrils
‘You must be able to grow great carrots here’
I said
‘The soil’s so loose and light’

Friable.
Anger and confusion washed over me as I read the word. The bleached paper
ugly between my fingers,
clinical.
‘What exactly does friable mean?’ I had asked my father at the breakfast table.
He looked over his broadsheet, glanced at the ceiling.
‘Sort of disintegrative matter. Falls apart easily’ he had replied.

Friable.
My pale bare hands squeezed the clods of earth, broke up the chunks,
earthworms squirmed in the cool ground.
I shovel and shake the dark peat atop,
enriching the plot, nourishing the old.

Friable.
Not a word
for the hot red of my innards
where tendons and connective tissue lie, taught
like the skin on a tambourine.
Though
slowly falling apart.

Or am I more organic matter?
Lying between the turf and the clay, let me be.
I reclaim the word.
I am friable
the earth is me.

Island Home

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A dull light slowly pervades through my curtainless window, a gentle awakening. I tug on my cotton shirt and heave open the badly hung door to my bedroom, barefeet slapping against the wooden floorboards through the kitchen.

Sliding open the glass door to the deck, I see the sun has not yet broken over Ruahine on the southernmost tip of the island, the sky made up of endless swathes of milky blue and warm pink hues. I hear the waves breaking gently onto the beach and witness fishermen keen to get their boats into the water, backing their trailers down the boat ramp and wading knee deep into the drifts. Thinking of a box of cold beers and a bucket of fresh snapper.

I stretch my arms above, stand on my tip toes, yawn loudly. Morning world.

The cicadas slowly wake as the sun creeps up, casting hot orange light onto damp, dense bush. Tuis can be heard rustling among ferns, singing their most unusual song.

Metal on metal as I slam the kettle onto the gas stove, thought of hot coffee on my mind. I fill the large cast iron pan from the tap outside, the days water, only seven mosquito larvae today.

My cousin emerges, he’s been reading for an hour in bed, stomps along the deck to go round the back for a mimi. The house shudders.

The kettle boils, whistles, screams. It’s desperate to be poured. I relieve it, gladly, and the morning rolls away into endless cups of steaming tea and watching cars drop down into the bay. People living their lives, unaware of being witnessed by the bush dwellers. The smell of warm ocean and wet ferns breezes through the open windows, tugs at the cobwebs and blows through the clothes that have been forgotten about on the line for days.

Clear blue day, woes at bay.

Taranaki

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Crisp, damp air cools the thin skin of my pink cheeks

as I pick my way through the wet ferns and grasses that have grown over the track, rainwater streaked over my grey jeans.
A rich peaty smell rises from decaying wood and leaves,
exposed banks crumbling bits of orange clay and dark black soil that get stuck in clods to the bottom of my boots.
Above me, the white sky is barely visible. The whole path is a tunnel of green; moss covered trees dripping with lichens block out most descending light.
There are slippery rocks that one must take care over when picking across an icy cold stream. The water is clear and steady, having been slowly filtered though a millennium of volcanic rock and spewed from the cracks of the mountain.
Tree roots line the forest floor like a net of fresh shining liquorice, and bright orange bracket fungi cling to the base of some of the more ancient species of tree.
A plethora of birdsong can be heard among the gentle rustle of leaves and flow of the many streams.
On this, the aptly named ‘Enchanted track.’

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Home

Watching the days turn to nights
And the nights growing darker from my bedroom window
I think how I shall miss the little things of home.

The orange, crockery clad kitchen with a warm aga resting at its heart
The incompetent ‘bin’ in the cupboard, into which we play Jenga on Saturday afternoons with litter,
and Tetrus in the baking cupboard.
Mama never liked order anyway.

The creaky floorboards in the hall that tell you when someone pauses to gaze into the dark mirror, or stare into the glass bottle case.

The Christmas wrapping paper that has been used three times already and smells slightly of mould due to its storage in the under-stairs cupboard. Nostalgic, because its scent is also that of Papa’s Cinefilms.

The snug living room that has special long velvet curtains that hide French doors. Barely used.

‘The Den’, all blue, refreshing;
Dad’s room which smells of fusty books and pipe tobacco,
huge and ancient maps adorn the walls and the sound of swallows nesting outside pervade the room through large, sash windows.

The huge, hot shower in the bathroom has heard many songs and poems recited, like a recording booth.
The bath too, has healed many of my hurts.

The intimate nook in the garden
next to the pond and under the small willow tree,
where one feels eventually part of nature.

The range of obscure teas home has,
the colourfulness of home
the bone chilling cold of home in the winter when draughts blow between skirting boards and floor,
The whistling of the wind on the corner of the house outside my bedroom;
it feels wonderfully comforting.

I will miss these things of home
the familiarity and warmth.
I will miss home

Written: October 2013

July 2013

I gave you everything
I had and it
still wasn’t
enough.

I still think about out time
together even when
things get
rough.

I doubt you even felt me,
my deep and loving flow.
I doubt I even cross your mind
in the darkness
lost and low

I revel in the sadness
I touch the burning pain
I know my own damn madness-
it’s like standing in the rain

So now I must grieve for you,
not dead, nor buried and cold
but gone and tearing from my life
a huge and hurtful hole.

If I were made a river
and you- a deep blue sea
we’d forever be roaming on the earth
wanting to be free.

-BB

Spring

Silent oak trees
naked in the dusk,
still and watching,
breathing in smoky musk.

Pallid pink streaks
lay across blue, mottled skies
outside my window
bearing witness to unutterable lies.

Alone I wait,
for spring to break
from stems and branches
how long will it take?

For brown to turn to green,
for black, sleepless nights
to transform into warm, sparkling evenings,
for others to receive their deserved rights?

Birds swoop towards nests,
sheep move for shelter,
they know natures harshness
and outside they felt her.

People drive home for the day
exuding thick, grey smoke,
bustling, talking, consuming and ruling,
slowly,
we choke.

Written: March 2013