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the nineteenth century rests on kauri piles,
emptied of the industry it once accomodated,
men sleeping outside on their backs
like spirits from the old tales, the sun
setting and rising above them, faded skins
in a circle of mangal skeletons, coasts
kept together by tides and ferry crossings,
keeping time for the sake of memory,
tourists, in packages and at Christmas,
in Christmas packages asking questions
any local could answer pointing to a rock
saying whose historic bottom sat there.

—Thomas Mitchell
   © 1997