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MICHAEL KEITH

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Far North

in memory of FSK

 

The Hokianga was the furthest north we went together.

We never reached Cape Reinga, Te Rerenga Wairua

a journey that you wondered if you’d make

in spirit form – take

the local flight path, then bank left

head west for Africa and the Rift

that was your birthplace.

This summer I turned my face

 

to the Far North again

retraced our tracks and then

chugged across the Hokianga on the ferry

to Kohukohu, where fiddling with the radio I nearly

ditched the car in the mangroves

– the only stupidity I committed (I think) on the road

in two weeks’ driving, you’d be surprised to hear.

Oh wish you’d been there, wish you’d been there.

 

Come with me now from Ahipara on the trip

up the vast tombolo to its rocky fingertip.

Stand before Te Kao’s white-plastered Ratana church,

– remember how the Binney painting made such

an impact? That pair of towers

like sturdy parents with a brood house

locked between them. Glimpse the Parengarenga spit, its sand

laundered an impossible white, ghost land

 

floating on a glittering sea.

Walk down the hill to the beach at Te Werahi

through the sooty shade of kānuka

the cracking stridulations of cicada.

Suddenly surrounded by aromatic sweetness – is that you?

Or honeydew?

 

The final switchback to the Cape, up to the broad

point where State Highway One runs out of road.

 

 

 

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