The Nacreous Oughts

03 April 2004

"Incident at Matauri

Shags or, they say, occasional a white
heron print a waste of beach between tides.
Like catchcries fallen from that air bright
brown are surprising seaweeds. There's no wharf
either way, miles; thread foam trails sand
below day broken on rough grazing, or a land
clipped by sheep. There no calls descend
through speculations down. Only the shell,
weed, tussock, cutty grass, scrub and rub
of the wearing wind serpentines a minute
from what we mean by it, designing bay or bluff.
Space, largely, fills vision and prospect, and could
be bare except seas flow or those islands curl.

Look out then if you go that way by the east
holding your native sense to that nothing
complete in its now estates.

A morning took
two, thought them secure, by a small flurry,
(they left their cat sleeping out the fire)
with dawn a sail away from their fished channel.
Took two, with tackle ready, motor going.
Nothing rolled down the pebbles after them.
Space, suppose largely, was before them.

Print by print or at the lost step hemmed
a morning light surprised on those beaches
thread of foam and the motor's distant rocking.
Rocking and distant the islands slept."

Kendrick Smithyman

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