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THE CANOE COMES

Yes, there on the far horizon
it is coming,
the canoe without substance;
huia feathers humming in unison
with the pipis,
opening their arms
in the joy
of the coming home.

Taniwha, Taniwha
the seagulls call,
the sand dunes
shading white faces
in the dreadful light,
as the prow of the canoe
surges in strange beatings,
down the soft breasts
of the chanting sea.

Yes, the very land is calling
deep unto deep,
while ghostly paddles
rise in salute;
the navigator laughing
in great noise
as the prow cuts
the last breaker,
and hongis the land.

The first corner post
thrust hard and inviolate
into the glistening rock;
Maunganui sighing with love
feasting on the soft caress
of your feet, coming home.
Her nakedness covered
in the mantlet of pipi shells,
the feast of thanksgiving
and the laying down of the wave-sticks
for the last time.

Warriors are running on the sands
glorious and naked in innocence,
thighs rippled by the sucking
of the mud flats of experience,
feet bleeding with their hearts
from the ravages of war and sharp places
but in the end they wheel and circle
the great rock, Maunganui calling
their wairua safely home.

The canoes are empty upon the sands,
huia feathers laid down upon the crests,
brown breasted mothers, hands thrust out
toward the islands on the rim,
come home my son, come home my son,
to aroha by blackened rocks
and the pounding of the sea,
the warrior sons and men of grace
and, turning still, the mountain's face.

John A. Moller
Whiskey Two Company RNZIR

 

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