To reach Dante's earthly paradise in the Garden of Eden, you must climb the nine circles of Mount Purgatory to the top. I've imagined the tor at Torbay, North Shore City, Auckland as representing Mount Purgatory. A local Maori myth has a young woman waiting for the return of her lover as she sits on the tor watching the sea. Paua is a New Zealand shellfish with a highly iridescent shell.



There you are Beatus 
grey star on a dusky scarf
the moon halved by a cloud
& us sun-bathing in your palm –
airy, toe-toe, blond feathers
staked like javelins
thrown to mark
a harbour – you are
the harbour & the yachts
in full light at full tilt – or

Orion, sword upside-down
spread-eagled on night blue –
you’re the ninth step
of the ninth circle round
the tor, where a girl plaits
& waits for sight of your canoe,
paua eyes on the masthead gleaming
up from under as do those
of swordfish or marlin
or of a sea-god leaping.

from Dante’s Heaven (Puriri Press, 2006), © Jan Kemp 2006, used by permission of the author.

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