In this intimate vast mountain
the landmarks are my family’s story
A safe place
even in its wildness
even its ever-present perils are beloved
Our feet know the way
so our spirits are free to go wandering
Gentle layers of noticing and knowing
Repeat repeat repeat
Growing a map of connectivity and love
time space imagination happenings
deeper and richer
as we walk, sleep, walk again –
Huddle against storm
or swim in some gurgling pool under a summer sun.
We name the rivers
We remember our adventures
We notice a diving karearea
or smoky blue mountain orchid
Everything goes into the map
Wasn’t it right by Three Tarn River, that Easter,
that my boot fell to pieces and I had to cross four ridges in just a sock…
Peter met me with another pair of shoes…
Walk, sleep, walk
Heading north, heading south,
knit purl knit
Weaving a family fabric of story and land.
Paired impressions in the dark damp earth lend me downhill.
Someone else uses this place but they are not human.
Someone meeker, possibly pronged.
I discovered this spot a while back – camping out.
A secret stream, hiding in forest and flax, quiet and flecked green and gold with river grass –
criss-crossed with black submerged forest flotsam.
Gaze into maps of golden deep, edged by oceans of dark shade.
Twiggy reflections walk down into a wobbly mazy wonderland of inverted roof.
Dragonflies both red and cobalt blue zoom in pairs or hang, wagging up and down.
It’s hard to reach down to the water.
I have to wedge both feet into recessions in the bank and dip one hand to guzzle the cool water, while hanging off a bush with the other. I’m an orangutan!
Having sloshed down as much as I feel like, I can now pause –
pooled by warm sun, gold water and increasingly damp bum.
A single reed curves out over the surface cupping a hollowed out cove.
Watch that floating bit of stick.
It tries to beach itself going against the reed but is batted away and caught in an eddy.
It circles around past my useful bush, back against the mossy bank and my wedged foot then repeats the process, batting that reed back into the eddy and round again.
Four times it does this.
Look closely and the eddy is made up of a series of spinning whirls of water all circling past the curvy reed and backwards round the hollow like a series of juggling balls or spinning moons orbiting – except they lack a planet.
I’ve been so busy watching the tiny emerging threads of water-mills that I missed the fact that my stick has finally managed to escape and vanish.
But here’s another one, trapped in the same cycle, like one of us doomed to keep facing the same dilemmas and responding in the same ineffectual way –
till eventually mere chance lets us spin off and float downstream to the next adventure.
It’s a potter’s wheel that’s spinning ever whirling never stopping
and the potter’s supple fingers that are gliding round the clay
It’s a spider weaving spindle threads which find the sunlight glancing
on a web of thready spirals curving up to meet the day
You can pull it out in funnels, ease it out to purring rumbles
or release a tide of silence where the singer is the song
You can spin it out in circles like those children turning cartwheels
on a shoreline rimmed with breakers that the wind has blown along
Feel the fullness now of gravity, that’s warm and strong and thrumming
like a hive of golden bees or honey dripping off a spoon
The potter sends a whoomph of pulse to a wheel that keeps on turning
for a song that’s softly humming masquerading as the moon
Oh it’s spinning on a finger wearing shoes of sparking copper
lifting off like kindling fire that’s smoking with the beat
Vision misting no resisting and the dance is moving faster
so it swaps to sloppy running shoes and tears off down the street
It’s a theme that’s full of mischief, unexpected dodging turning
and it won’t conform to anything they’re sending the police
hard hats chasing, music racing and those shoes are getting hotter
It’s a band that’s being arrested for disturbance of the peace
Now it’s heading for the mountains to a place it’s been before
escaping to a land of ice where forest parts like hair
Receiving tangled lines of harmony the moss is sifting, seeping –
the song is like a river combing through the cooling air
Gazing down the Makatote to a rusty railroad crossing
and a train that sounds like sandwiches and chocolate chunters by|
Makatote, Makatote, chuntering, chuntering, chuntering by
Now the song is sounding longer stronger deeping down a pathway
to a lonely glowing mountain you can see through to the sky
to that lonely glowing mountain you can see through to the sky
From polyphony and harmony we’re down to just one strand
It’s a tune that you can pick out with the fingers of one hand
The stars ping out in blinking chimes as day falls to the west
and the rhythm’s softly sinking, fading out into a guess
for my mother
I will put up the red tent under my apple tree
and imagine a new world:
Here I am in wild Fiordland again
where the kea cry out their songs of fire and anarchy
ringing from mountain to mountain –
Where the whio coo and clack their haunting love duets
and korimako chime like bells in the misty forest
Where robins sit pertly on my boots
kiwi scream in the night
and owls echo
While here in this world we wait for the daily count of new infections
We queue like sagging puppets for food
Spaced out around the Countdown carpark
passive obedient confined
I will put up the red tent and steal away
The wildlands are still out there
The rivers still run clear
Morning mist still rises
and mountains do battle with the sky
Even the weather must do their bidding