Drawing by Judith Wolfe
D. S. Long

Poem


      TUMATAKURA

      it's like this

      you know when the tide comes in
      the way the clear water covers the stones
      and the words we have for such things

      for me it's the long ferry crossing
      cold winter nights
      a dark harbour, the uninhabited islands
      in our dreams

      and it is also a kind of rheumatism
      passed down
      so that when we wake in the darkness
      we curse our grandparents

      perhaps you have not fully understood
      that I'm talking about the way words come and go
      while others simply haunt us

      I know that you live far inland
      so the sound of the sea does not scare you
      but I too have turned my back on old age
      only to watch the days disappearing

      past the locked gate
      over that cattleguard of old songs
      and then the unsealed road
      that works its way down

      through gullies, through our ancient family stories,
      past coastal scrub, its understory of forgotten phrases
      the words we've never heard
      this matagouri tangle of thorns

      these poems
      in which nothing quite seems to exist

      isn't it the way words are exposed
      as we say them


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