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Writing Wellington: Twenty Years of Victoria University Writing Fellows

Kapiti Coast

page 14

Kapiti Coast

You do not need to depend on the location
to gain the poem: it is, perhaps, enough
that a general sense of sea or sky persist
or nag the memory to put you here
in the mind's eye, gazing out on the specific
ominous island you are told rises like ruin
from an ocean haze of blood-soaked history.

Interpretation begins. You can close your eyes
if it helps to establish earshot and anguish,
the heard and tasted tears that were real
as stone and as hard to swallow. Not only
a place, but what happened here. Each
detail part of a map of pity you need not
be intimate with because you have domesticated hurt.

And yet you know. There is that current
of water and air, electric, conducting the sense
a louring sky might attempt to conceal. Houses
whose inmates look out for the stranding of stories,
miraculous mammals beached for their glory
and anticipation. All to be handled and put away
at day's end with bloodsports and entertainment.

The place does not matter in detail if you remember
there is terror best not recalled when nightfall
crackles and flame blinds the beaches. Black stones
from former feasting, and a set of kneecaps
for cupping the springwater. Drink deep. Look
again. Pray that rain might squall; obliterate:
memory be cleansed. Hope to reopen eyes, and see.