By IAIN BRITTON.
hung up by threads of luminous particles, these eyes fossilised in rock
transfix the visitor to the jawline of a hill. yet no church sings. no one praises.
i turn to a coded farewell practice, that you should react to the wind’s howling
its free-spiritedness where once i called your daughter to live in the same paddock
same house under a hunched-up hieroglyphic god counting backwards the days
the years to a bustling summer of permissiveness & youth.
sun lovers share my verandah. they smile at the guardians, the painted saints
the messengers, who live in harsh inhospitable places. they share the chaos
of colour, the blood-mixed recipes, the breeding formulas for all weathers. they
share names tightened into knots, shrivelled up & dangling like small wooden skulls
they share the flaked & jittering weather-vane on Harvey’s Hill, on the jagged
horizon of an early dawn. i leaf-pack the trees. i listen to the weather-vane
spinning for this maker of fierce metaphors. i listen & solitary windows
are splashed by the Pacific. salt grains liquefy, gannets drop suddenly. a fragile
peace shades in the disparities between first thought first utterance. gannets drop
into the surf spraying out like bullets.
today’s tributaries plunge through gorges. forecasters hunger for deluges
to clean up the yards, to transform lifesaving tricks of delivering meals on wheels.
a neighbour’s Ford slumps heavily on its punctured belly. the rain wears at the rust.
my family sidesteps the slush, the shivering blue sheep & under my letter box
freesias suck in their lips
night illuminates a fresh complexion. water spouts up & pierces the sky
skittling groups of stars. a thermal mist dissolves. people stare at geysers
fuming from rocks. i’m here to witness my daughter’s birth, force-fed through
fissures, to witness a child gripping at her father’s breath. i’m here to nurture
wild flowers, to ensure the botanical survival of a new moon’s offspring.
shellfish which once dragged or oozed across rock pools through fields of foam
now decorate walls. a man & his wife open their doors for the gilled Magi
of ghosts bearing piscatorial fruit. the couple feast on the flesh of their religion.
i observe them bringing home the sea
hills inspire the sudden silhouette of a church, an art story unfolds & apostolic
characters spring up with hot coals for eyes. the countryside turns into a festival.
a cult circus constructs its city of tents, prepares fish & bread, roast lamb for this
is the season of tearing down scarecrows conspicuous in the tall yellow grass
for living the idea, for acting the converted. a clown rushes into the sunlight
juggling crossbones made of wood.
in every room
in every room in every mirror an eye stares at a picture of human encroachment.
from every dark space, hotel guests like me shuffle towards Happy Hour.
heads lean against windows. a guest list propagates. buildings climb over buildings
on concrete stumps. regulars cling & grow into the hotel’s façade. outside
the street’s graffiti is wet & distorted, commuters shelter under canopies. a city’s
sprawl muscles in on a neighbourhood’s sanctuary of backyard retreats.
this heartland of youth punctuates my habitat. mortar-maimed with fragments
of a daytime’s surrender the graffiti has learnt to walk away on its hands.
Iain Britton is an Aotearoa New Zealand poet and author of several collections of poetry. Recent poems have been published or are forthcoming in the Harvard Review, Poetry (Chicago), The New York Times, Wild Court, New Humanist, The Scores Poetry Journal, Stand, Agenda, Bath Magg and Poetry Wales. The Intaglio Poems was published by Hesterglock Press (UK) in 2017, preceded by Liquefaction (Interactive) in 2009.