HIC SUNT DRACONES



We do not exist, we New Zealanders, we Australians.
To believe us is heresy, by papal fiat
ex cathedra we are not: Pope Zachary (prone to meddling
in Merovingia and theological hot takes)
wrote in a letter to Saint Boniface that there couldn’t
be an Antipodes, another Earth
beneath the Earth.

That was twelve centuries ago; someone tell the Aborigines.
Supposed Papal Infallibility leaves the Nuncios
in Wellington and Canberra something of a problem.
Eppur si muove!
Oh how we waved when Scipio orbited overhead dreaming
like the International Space Station.

Saint Augustine was similarly sceptical
that any Son of Adam or Daughter of Eve
could survive a crossing of Equatorial seas a-boil
to put the soles of our feet against the soles of theirs
and besides, how would we see Christ’s grand encore
if we couldn’t even see the Pole Star?
Lilith’s brood, perhaps, or Lucifer’s?
Perhaps the Dove, the Crown, the Altar and the Cross
in the firmament
were overcompensating.

We were very surprised to learn
when Dante popped out of a hole in the ground
that we were, in fact, Purgatory… And then that little English girl
Alice: Please, Ma'am, is this New Zealand? Or Australia?
We have a plague of rabbits, none of them white.

Chrétien de Troyes says Arthur
was made our king before departing for Avalon.
Joseph Hall might have been slightly more accurate
satirically dividing our hemisphere into the human vices:
Moronia abuts Gluttony, Intoxication
borders the land of Viragos.
We’ve long been mirror of the world
where wives lie uppermost.

But here we are:
no bosom-eyed faces in our chests, no legs fused
into a giant foot to shade us in the torrid sun, not even
the vast unexplored prairies and cordilleras
of Terra Australis Incognito counterweight to Europe
preventing the world tumbling in space like a dreidel,
no golden Kingdom of Beach
no Maletur, nor Locah, no Region Psitacorum
loud with motley parrots, no Eendrachtsland,
no Regio Patalis migrated down from the Indus
no Java-le-Grande of sorcerers and spices, no Magellanica,
nor Tierra del Espíritu Santo roamed by Mastodons,
no cities of silver, no Lost Tribes of Israel,
just two small continents above water,
Australia and Antarctica, mostly barely habitable
and one submerged, Zealandia,
with an aesthetically-pleasing archipelago
doing its best to keep head above the brine.

But even that wasn’t enough,
there wasn’t even a hole in the Southern Pole
leading into whatever
tropical paradise of Neanderthals, Nazis, UFOs and
tyrannosauri you care to imagine.

Really we’ve been disappointing people for forever. 

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