The novice nuns gather
their habits around themselves.
It's the same each day,
the cell, the tiled courtyard
with it's roses, cloisters
and the chapel by the orchard
garden. Later, the refectory.
Paradise will be like this
you mutter, lifting your
Canon EOS 500 once again:
a repetition of the repetitions,
every moment an eternity
measured by these ritual
acts, as habits and habituation
shape the pattern, life
itself becomes that habitation.
Flying into Christchurch, the evening
light sliding low and green beneath
a nor'west arch, you are surprised
to see the Waimakariri, sinuous
as an eel, looping and meandering
through swamps of flax and cabbage
trees, and the few remaining stands
of lowland totara and kahikatea.
Leaning close to the glass, you notice
a canoe on the river, slipping through
the photogravure of the shallows.
Smoke rises from campsites. And
the long river shines across the plains
still whole and single; the last fires
of settlement have not yet released
the water's braids and straitened its
great coils of ancient hair. It is not
what you expect. You are out of time.
The plane lands. As you drive into
the city, you're concerned to find it
beautiful. It will be a troubled night.