Best New Zealand Poems 2002
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Eternity is the traffic lights at Huntly –
before they change from red to green
I am lost in the enchantment of an ancient entertainment.
A wraith-like old wooden two-storey hotel
a war memorial hall with a padlocked front door
the sour taste on my tongue of a dust and diesel railway station
miners’ cottages pale as mushrooms in the mist
a seesaw in the playground of a primary school
like scales that tilt toward injustice –
all become fantastical and floating
like some surreal craft now cut adrift by phantom boatmen.
Tilted on the river’s broad traverse
the topsy-turvy of its history
down a surface cross threaded and riddled with mysteries
wide from its flashing underbelly
its streetlights like a gorse bloom’s yellow carnival
through coal black waters voyaging this corridor of stars.
Do I merely chance to catch a glimpse of Mum and Dad
after a day out at the races
waltzing on the balcony of the Waipa Hotel –
Dad with his pockets full of fancy
the town’s wake of champagne corks and ribbons
Mum laughing as he murmurs something?
All these years later in a midsummer night’s dream
as I’m saying hullo and saying goodbye to them
waiting at the traffic lights as Huntly floats downstream.


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