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A darker purpose

Thomas Kendall 1778–1832

Moreporks pick at robbers’ corpses
(‘to publish the glad tidings
of the Gospel’) on the Roman cross
over Kawakawa River

while a Maori dyes flax
black with hinahina berries
for basket-work
or….

When mackerel cloud swims
over the moon
Reverend Kendall’s campfire spears
the river’s eel.

A heron’s leg measures
the shallows. A skipping stone
‘moves in mysterious ways’
to cripple the bird.

Concentric circles
clone the missionary’s shadow;
every curve refers
to its centre.

31.5.1983-1.5.1984, Clifton Terrace, Wellington.
1st Prize, The Gordon & Gotch Poetry Competition, 1984

 


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