Breath of Life


We built on a rocky outcrop
near the top
where the wind had hollowed out
a sandpit for its pleasure
with intent
to rifle wild flowers
to its heart’s content,
or simply to find relief
having run out of breath.

Is it any wonder then
that having been deprived
of its playpen,
it should retaliate
with intemperate
displays of bloody-mindedness,
tossing trees and other furniture
about the sky,
and anything that’s breathing
and will die.

My dear one, hold tight.
remember the pair of waxeyes
in the peach tree,
how side by side
they defied
every assault of the wind,
returning every night that week
to ride the selfsame branch
until the final dawn,
the wind having finally collapsed,
they flew away never to return.

from Gallipoli & Other Poems (Wai-te-ata Press, 1999), © Alistair Te Ariki Campbell 1999, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004.

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