Hills and Clouds

Clearing pathways from the brain to the act of writing can be a tortuous sail, if not perilous …

Time to say good-bye to these wee pihipihi at the feeding post. They can fend for themselves now with spring growth abounding.

I am in the throes of trying to put words to paper for a forty minute talk. Clearing pathways from the brain to the act of writing can be a tortuous sail, if not perilous (losses overboard can be huge) for all the stories, ideas, thoughts, impressions, memories and connections between.

And so – distraction helps ward off the inevitable brain block. For me today it’s hills and clouds …

Lenticular clouds Sunday 30th August 2020

Lately the ballet of clouds hovering over Ōtepoti / Dunedin have appeared rather elegant, beginning with the shape of zeppelins before shredding into more wispy layers.

Speaking of Dunedin’s hills – here is a poem composed last night and still warm from the oven.

below the 45th

Among the dark brood
of hills, I spot a landed square of kakapo-green,
a snatch and grab of sunlight on grass
caught by me in one glance through a café’s window
just as noon struck

the suburban backdrop.
At this table full of friends, we talk
of straight lines being evil
and how an arc is also one
but in disguise, scooped out of shape.
No matter where you go in Dunedin
there’s bound to be some hill’s shining flanks
to fix an eye on — a rock-shrouded cliff,

the bones of a quarry, the harbour’s overcoat-navy
smudge of peninsula, a slouching Mount Cargill
parked at the end of George Street.
Beyond this window the hills loom like ocean liners
as the conversation moves and sways to how in this part
of the Southern Hemisphere, below the 45th parallel,
it’ll soon be time to plant courgettes, celery and tomatoes.

For today though, under this present soar of clouds
in full sail, I see Dunedin’s hills, magma-heavy,
slumped into their own eternal weight,
semi-content, until some quick trick
of trapped sunlight marks land from sea-light,
rock from fluid, repose from despair.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

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