Selected for Best New Zealand Poems 2014
Here we are a skinny country
in the largest ocean on earth
spell-bound, windswept, lashed.
The land is like a canoe heading south
to an icy continent or heading north to equatorial islands.
No one seems to know.
On Tuvalu the ocean is rising, in San Francisco
the ocean is rising, in Sydney the ocean is
rising, in Nagoya the ocean is rising
while here, in Paekakariki, outside my window
the Tasman Sea, moon-bound, rises and falls.
It breaks up on the sea wall and falls.
The land is like a sea-bird but where
are its wings? The land is like a fish.
The fish of Māui, hauled up from the sea floor, writhing.
The ocean is a road, a table and a bed.
It takes our bodies up to air and floats them.
The ocean is an open question.
The ocean is an open sewer. So far
it takes what it gets: toxins, dead zones,
blooms, blasts, oil, waste, radiation…
Our country is asleep – dreaming of a gull
that circles the Pacific, and circles every island.
Our country has forgotten where it lies.
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