Best New Zealand Poems 2001


Richard Reeve



Season of farmland reduced to its knees, blistered hills
genuflecting to the clear. In almost everything

drought has disclosed itself to the wind-hushed mind;
the udders are cracked, a gate bobs like a fallen

soldier in the stanched centre of a paddock. There is a nothing
here that forgives, ground into the habitual seepage

of something’s split head: gulls pick the otherwise
ignored mammal flapping on the road, a dead insect’s

slashed wings sway over the tar like an orchestra.
And yet there can be no forgiveness. It is always but never

now where barbed wire fences are balked by the sun,
the sky hissing through popped staples, ‘almost

but never’. And then at night, under dried-out stars,
rain features in a pantomime: swallowing the earth.


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