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Lake Okareka


Voices across Lake Okareka from waterskiers a kilometre away.

I am half in love with this place already

the boardwalk to myself, thick wooded hills steeply


down to the water’s edge, the constant burble

and call of distant wild birds, past raupō, tōtara, toetoe.

Now in the shade of tī kōuka, Cordyline australis. The cabbage tree.


It is not like a cabbage, its bark is like the hide of an elephant, its trunk

like its trunk. It lives here, beside a lake born of Tarawera’s fire

with mild wildlife and power-walkers who lower voices as they pass.


Something is eating its leaves. Around its base, dead leaf stalks

I drink tea as a black swan in front of me honks for some reason, dives its head deep

its bum points to the sky while I write another poem about a cabbage tree.



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