From Our Bush Mansions Facing the Sea
From our bush mansions facing the sea,
bathtub boats, castaway clouds,
crinkled fragments of tinsel
and the pressure of water reflected
in rippling movements on panes.
Popping sequins, tiger lilies, spotted slippers,
flowering manuka, hibiscus curls,
all bedraggled in a blurry dive
into the drowning rip tide, the colour of whiskies,
awash on the rocks beyond inland watersheds.
A flux pulses on land back, on leaf rib,
on thrashing fish spine as
some hawk hovers, a hairline flaw in the blue crystal.
Wooden webs of rooms and stairs
on yellow cliffs of exposed clay.
Fretted sea lace like Edwardian picnic doilies,
barbecue smoke, steamy hangi weather,
kids hotfooting it across sand.
Dank denim of drunk swimmer wading from
ringing sunshine and ultramarine announcements
towards ballcock verdigris, giddy upper stories.
Cloistered ridges, ranges and volcanic rims.
Opulent hill breasts nestled in early, voluminous
mist gauze, pockets of lush native bush
stretching well-endowed fragrant armpits
across upholstered escarpments.
Drops noisily splashing down gullies
where eels stir from underwater caves
to break the surface in masses of tiny bubbles.
Sweating, spitting, scanning the shiny horizon
as luminous summer’s shallow clarity laps
shell curves, threadbare cotton and frosted beer.
Soporific, armchaired afternoons
on grandfatherly verandahs half-sunk
in varnished domains,
in the greenish oil sap essences of sticky stems,
in tasselled toetoe and spangled magnolia.
The evening’s dusky fingers peeling away
the thin silvery membranes of light,
leaving the dolphin-sleek waterbirth
of darkly blubbering waves, seaweed ravines,
rock spires, dwarf cathedrals, salt basilicas,
pebble-dashed rearing organ pits,
cauldrons boiling long fat strips of kelp,
the hit or miss brilliance of starry surf,
the eyesocket of a beached cow skull dribbling foam.
From People of the Land (Penguin, 1988)