RECURSION THERAPY


For Fiona Pardington, Arthur’s Pass, January 2015

The Kea in jade and verdigris armour clings upside-down,
to mountain rock like a crazy blue-arsed fly.
Its head bobs up and down as it leans back,
smelling with carved nostrils for blood on the air,
its wings unfold, flashing the whore-rust underneath.
To the parrot there is no reality beyond its own feathers.
It doesn’t care; it caws derisively at the plains.
It bobs up and down like something hysterical,
balancing cautiously; a Chinese acrobat,
a dark blot against the sapphired ice.
Framed in those wings, on the tree-line
a tramper treads around loose scree carefully.
Further off are the hut and the respite of sanctuary
and wood smoke.
Below, the river stones are menstrual with lichen mosaics,
and the close, high, maternal hills, subtle
with shimmering pounamu gradations of beech trees,
Baudelaire’s Brobdignagian fantasy lover,
and yet more distant
are the great ramparts of basalt and ice,
the disapproving mountains against horsetail cirrus.

Beyond the mountains, the invisible holocaust
of the city set in its plain.
Without mountains the empty sky grows spacious
and the details of the landscape swell in significance:
a house, a road, a goat.
An illusion of a city on a plain, mere potter’s clay
and sparking alluvial gravel where all wheres are equivalent
and borders difficult.

It is a reflection of another city that is somewhere -
but this is not certain -
A dream city of no earthquakes where there are markets
overlooked by a terrace of cafés
wherein newspapers debate politics, a city
where the cinemas smell of salty oranges and gunpowder,
a city of gothic cathedrals and baroque opera houses
where flutes and mandolins celebrate into the night.
A city of bosky parks,
oriole windows,
stone angels and marble stairs.
A city in a prospect of orchids,
exulting in terror and delight.
The archetype.

Beyond the city is the sea, the great amniotic contusion
of the ocean, whale-road, ploughed
by ships spreading out their white tails for
the casual lenses of satellites.
The bruised sea rests suspended high
over its interior altitudes and distant abyssal floor
like heavy clouds over a monochrome landscape
in an amateur watercolour left out in drizzle.

Beyond the ocean is the broad limb of a landmass,
and a city that is also a reflection of an ideal city,
the serrated vertebrae of some mountains,
a hut of wood and corrugated iron,
a man adjusts his knapsack, and steps
on some loose scree,
slipping and cursing at Huey –
startling the Kea, carnivore alpine monkey-parrot,
which, with a shrill, brazen shriek
wheels off like a random thought
uncertain whether its flying or falling
into azure space.

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