FELIX CULPA



Somewhere on State Highway 6
between Timaru and Te Anau, between
zero and ‘n’ on the timeline,
lost in the thick syrup of a hundred Km/h
in the smug hermetic cell of the driver’s seat.

Lines of poplar samba in the breeze,
shaking their gold coins; from the gorse
cicadas raise a triumphal pizzicato
and the macrocarpa windbreaks
like giant scattered blue-black Lego bricks
gesture suspiciously.

The quilted plain spreads out from the mountains,
no stone meets the sculptor’s chisel yet,
alluvial clay turns another cheek to the potter’s slap
and all otherwheres are equal to imagine,
all points equal on a plain
in shades of hessian, russet and blonde.

I spot a rabbit carcass, waffled down the middle
where a car felled it,
but I can only just see it under the bobbing wings
of shellshocked Kahu the harrier,
like a fallen angel
scorched dun by hellfire, fastidiously
doing triage surgery with secateurs,
swallowing gobbets of flesh.
Startled, the wings unfold, with a shriek
the harrier takes off in an asymptotic
hyperbola into an expanding gyre as if
to prove the limits of flight, anxiety and vertigo of hell,
terror and remnant beauty of forgotten heaven.

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