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Decorating the present

You retired from
life? No, only
your own: the girl next door knew more
so you saw red
when she did, paused
before the same story, the same
then thought better
and left the newspaper to curl.
Outside you stepped
because the day was not yours. Yes
the wind missed you
the tree shivered
for your initials: what were they?


In a moment
exiled from that moment
you were just

one more boy who thought
architecture into air, who guessed
the silver of a birch was enough
to keep the frost

off. You were wrong.
As you reached the tree, reached
through its rings for—what?—your shoulders

under the weight of a dark bird
with a darker song. Before you knew it
by heart, the song

dropped with your eyes.


in memory the song
shimmers with the impossible
distance of the girl next door

more alluring than real
she is friendly with the children
you never had

leaving your fingers
free to ease
through vein and stem to

air turning over
the new leaf
the years together
cluster under roots
you have forgotten the taste of


The years together are the years

apart. How many
steps, how many
memories decorating the present?
If this earth is a grid over
air the stars are
touching. Surely.
The girl next door, her eyes
colonise your body
with borrowed light, with foreign
affairs: little bits of nowhere
making you taking you



You retired from
life. In a moment
exiled. In memory the song
shimmers. The years together passed

the years apart will last.
Yes. From this to this to that
and then? All those connections

missed. You did. Take the car
and skid through the skyline—
why are there no stars
why are there so many

you still can’t answer?

21.6.1993, Cathedral Square – April 1994, Rue Balguerie, Akaroa


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