Poem — C K Stead

Back then
(but briefly)

Reading Sam’s poem
while Charlotte’s cat
ecstatic
nudges, kneads, roars her purr
in my right
ear
and the page speaks
about age
how much loved
and by how many
back
then
and ‘the force that through
the green fuse drove
the flower …’

That was Laugharne’s laureate
1957
and he ‘world famous’ on the hill
under only as yet
a white cross of wood
at walking distance
from Boathouse and pub
his Mum still brisk about the barns
his widow lawless and the kids
still to grow.

The memories of old men
are their doings when young
their journeys of genuflection
and that low light
across the estuary
reminding of Tauranga
or upper Waitemata
sun shafting
through showers
a soft western breeze
and that fatal
poem in October
a done deal, a ride, a
deadly trade
with its ‘mussel-pooled
and its heron-priested
shore…’

The boom-box that filled
the
airwaves
and stressed the stars
is hardly heard
the rain has a subtler touch
the cat has curled
on the one
available lap
and whose (she asks) was
‘the suicidal career’
if not his
your boyo from the valleys
with his nineteen straights
his arcane charisma
and his cup of grace?

 

C K Stead

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