How to survive on a plinth

Hinemoana Baker

I asked a number of horses and hanged dictators of history

and some of the big-name gods and goddesses.

The dog who waited on that train platform,

a statue even then among the commuters.

When all I could find were fountains

I asked the thing with the tail and lifelike scales

glinting in the water’s fall and the small children

emptying that same water from pots and urns

and seashells and their own bladders

for centuries into the seasonal air.

I asked the woman at the top of the composition

who named the whole place

and the one whose dress is a lace of language

and the rugby team, the graveyard angels and

their loyal pigeons, silent lions.

I asked a gryphon, a huntaway, a bear,

the man squinting his open eye into his camera

and the other man who walked accidentally into shot.

The soldiers with quiet bayonets

pointing at their acres of paving.

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