Then and Again


Then was the brown Waikato gripped by cicadas
on post, willow and paddock strumming and zizzing
harsh as sandpaper, but making the world listen
for whatever we said of love they said it louder
all in the beat and tune
of their maori chanting
ta ra ra, te kita kita
ta ra ra, te kita kita

By the river blazing with sky, among osiers
they went mad, hooked on their own joy;
to be human was to be overridden
I felt their fever crackling into my brain
Live, O day of our sun
for ever, for ever,
ta ra ra, te kita kita
ta ra ra, te kita kita

A long hot road in the fading summer,
and fruit-stalls: cloudy-purple grapes,
watermelon slices crisp as frost,
a carton of peaches, a carton of pears,
and you, love, and you, love,
in cicada country
ta ra ra, te kita kita
ta ra ra, te kita kita

Providence bottled in syrup, stored for winter.
It’s not enough. So much succumbs to the cold.
Behind the drizzling walls when indifferent fangs
rip our days apart I want to take that disc
from its sleeve in my head, and in defiance
play it over and again
to the edge of sleep
ta ra ra, te kita kita
ta ra ra

first published in the booklet that accompanies New Zealand Poets Read Their Work (Waiata, 1974), © Gloria Rawlinson 1974, used by permission of the Rawlinson-Edge Trust. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974

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