New Zealand

We present this work in honor of Waitangi Day.

James K. Baxter
Kiwi
1926 – 1972

 

These unshaped islands, on the sawyer’s bench,
Wait for the chisel of the mind,
Green canyons to the south, immense and passive,
Penetrated rarely, seeded only
By the deer-culler’s shot, or else in the north
Tribes of the shark and the octopus,
Mangroves, black hair on a boxer’s hand.

The founding fathers with their guns and bibles,
Botanist, whaler, added bones and names
To the land, to us a bridle
As if the id were a horse: the swampy towns
Like dreamers that struggle to wake,

Longing for the poets’ truth
And the lover’s pride. Something new and old
Explores its own pain, hearing
The rain’s choir on curtains of grey moss
Or fingers of the Tasman pressing
On breasts of hardening sand, as actors
Find their own solitude in mirrors,

As one who has buried his dead,
Able at last to give with an open hand.

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