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MAGGIE RAINEY-SMITH

Ngawhatu

On the Richmond bus to Nelson passing Polstead Road

you only had to say it, and everyone knew, unspoken

we almost dared not look, it stirred such potent thoughts

caused laughter, mocking, and a deeply seated superstition

innuendo out the window, the road that leads to there

To where? You ask?  But we all knew, we knew for sure

 

that’s where the loonies go and you’ll go there for sure

we’d tell each other, laughing, pointing, up that road

if you’re not careful, shit a brick, you’ll end up there

What’s up there?  But no one speaks, it’s all unspoken

get off the grass and up your arse with superstition

hoodackie, thingummybob, bite your bum thoughts

 

no cock crowed thrice as I denied , but in my thoughts

were you and him but tightly kept, ashamed for sure

of knowing what was up that road, alas not superstition

the halfway mark en route, bus stop Polstead Road

get off the grass, half pie inside I laughed, my shame unspoken

the loony bin we shouted up the boohai pointing there.

 

I daren’t admit in public on the bus that I’d been there

in Aunty’s Morris Minor up that road;  my thoughts

I kept inside, our weekend visits left unspoken

the loony bin they shouted but none of them so sure

not the way that I was, not exactly what was up that road

yes  I knew just how to thwart suspicion, superstition

 

Scottish names they gave the villas, avoiding superstition

Stirling at the top was called the lock-up, dangerous to be there

but more benign was Kinross halfway up a landscaped road

among ornamental conifers, the bowling lawn, some say their thoughts

still haunt the valley, patients weaving baskets, no one’s sure

just what they felt besides the shock of ECT, most of it unspoken

 

the loony bin, we shouted, yet kept the worst unspoken

for if we named or claimed this thing we fed our superstition

the potential that was lurking at this intersection meant for sure

a powerful sense of self protection; we were never going there

up Polstead Road, we mocked and scoffed … but in my thoughts

I knew the way by heart, each bend, and every valley of that road

 

nga’s not superstitious and whatu, is possibly an eye, or hailstone

(yes, I get that for sure) yet up that road my thoughts still go when

ngawhatu meant loony and both of you … but now it’s not unspoken.

 

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