Deep South


Fog forms a wedding shroud in the trees,
the spindrift spun is the spendthrift sea’s.
A standing army of raindrops casts its pall
on islands where sometimes rain must fall.
Gentle pianissimo, pizzicato, snare-drum skirls,
then a headlong orchestral rush of applause.

The slant-told rain for which they yearned
beads the veils of shiny petals upturned,
seeds silver floodplains James Cook branded,
gleams on faces in stadiums waterbomb-stranded.

Cry a river sobbing stories of sunken dinghies,
of whale-boats bobbing above long-lost anchorstones,
of bullock eyeteeth, foxed with leaf-mould,
gnashing the genealogies of sun-bleached bones.

Waterclosets slip from moorings, cob cathedrals
buoy up their bells and melt back into the hills.
Water’s clear grain englobes black cherries,
as stealthy as fingers flogging food in dairies.

Whitewater froths like hydrophobic dogs
at tourists agog on prayer-mat rafts.
A flax taproot rots in a brain-sponge corner,
sheds grow green, creeks rock with logs.

Rainbows capsize, bulldozers sink underground.
Buckled into place, cars skid round and round.
Stopbanks fail, a lake loots a drowned town.
Rain drapes all in its pearl-grey bridal gown,
Down south, down south, down south.

from Rhyming Planet (Steel Roberts, 2001), © David Eggleton 2001, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004

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