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He Looks with Fondness

Stared at the postcard stuck to the wall. KM Te Kanawa, a moa, a marae and Mt Taranaki in the background, and the bold lettering, NIGEL BROWN. Stared at the letter from Boston from a childhood penfriend who he shared his life with, and needs to send another letter to. His name is Dermot and he was brought up in Dublin, Ireland.

Troubled times in his head. Troubles spread everywhere. He spread them between the cheese and the ham and eggs. Better. He took his jersey off and felt the ruffles in his shirt. The grey shirt that was once his best. Thought of the people who'd removed it from him, thought of the loves and friends, of the flat in Onehunga where the roaches and the dust held them in together. Other addresses. They rise like shaken scent.

He starts to shake. It is laughter he' s shaking with? Is it sorrow? Why is he shaking?

It comes out from the top to the bottom. It leaves him in yellow phlegmy trails that only he can trace. The old emotions leave their trenches and their craters. He needs reshaping.

He watches the teacher from the letters and he copies her abecedarian. What follows.

Is. A fondness is too subjective. How can the objective be served by irrelevant twitterings in the twigs eh? What are the leaves shaking around for except to get their pint of space and earn a keep eh? He propped his elbow on the bar like a log.

Fires he's lit. Fires on islands in the Hauraki Gulf, fires in the Bay of Islands, fires that cooked pipis, smoked snappers, burnt sausages, sweetened steak, fires that propped billies, stoked stories, and the buried fires of touch.

He returns to his returns. Begins his begin.


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