OTIRA ON A GOOD DAY



Is there room in the world for another poem about Otira Gorge
with Petrus van der Velden huffing and puffing away at his canvas,
muttering colour is light, light
                                                            is love,
                                             and love is God.             But the cheap bitumen
in the paint has darkened everything
on an already pewter overcast day. That’s not my Otira.
The harsh light down here doesn’t permit
those subtleties,                                           nor the pastel-hued
                                                                                          watercolour landscapes.
Here all tones are gleaming, lapidary,
hard-edged, cubist, chiselled and fractured
into crystals and facets of schist, nephrite, peridot and garnet
where the fault fracture goes all the way down to the molten soul
of these islands.                                           Any minute
                                             the earth may stir and shake itself awake

                              or a mountain push its bowel through its side.

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