Sanitised air, flaying her airways with each inward breath. Ambient whispers with foreign accents curling around the English
" Mr, Mrs Wilson. I’m Dr Langley. It’s so good of you to escort Sarah here on her flight home."
Slowly lifting her glazed eyes in the direction of the strangers, then sliding them down again to the patterned floor.
" No, nothing, not a word since the accident - she’s retreated…. But then so far from home…"
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.
"Yes, lost her family….but an aunt back home in New Zealand."
Movement. Gentle, propelling. Glimpses of grey. Grey skies, grey car, grey terminal. Walls reverberating with muted echoes
of a hundred farewells.
"A long flight Sarah, but then you’ll be back home in New Zealand."
Seated, hurtling through the sky. An unacknowledged time machine of our age, crossing invisible datelines. Manufactured
air of plastic aromas.
The panic of descent re-igniting recent terrors. Images of twisted metal melds with the sound of screeching brakes, the
smell of scorched flesh, the blood. Then the comparative hush of disembarking before the onslaught of the terminal. Metallic
air filled with voice vibrations.
"Hello Sarah. I’m Reverend Cox. Your Aunt…broken ankle...said I would collect…five hour drive…then
you’ll be home."
Easing through the crowds. Being shepherded, with a gentle hand on her elbow, towards a vehicle. Figure-hugging car upholstery.
Thick air tinged with aged tobacco and goodwill. A full symphony struggling to retain its authenticity on a distorted car
stereo. Then sleep.
Climbing from the depths, forcing weighted eyelids open. Blue sky through a smeary windscreen.
"Nearly there Sarah. I thought I’d take the scenic route past Lake Rotoaira. Beautiful country…it makes me
feel closer to God."
Sitting straighter, eyes riveted to the three giants dominating the expanse, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu. Snow covered
mountains straining to the heavens. Tussock bowing in submission. The insignificance of self.
An internal bubble bursts - emotion surges through, light and filling, cleaning away the heavy painful decay inside her.
Thumping her fists on the window, shocking the Reverend.
"Stop! Let me out!" her voice cracked and rusty from long disuse. Opening the door before the car glides fully to a halt.
Stumbling and falling from her seat in urgency. Then rising and standing straight and tall, as she hasn’t in an age.
Lungs filling with air, sharp and pure, the essence of life itself. Breathing in the blue, the mountains, the space.
She smiles, "Toku kainga noho". Home.
Copyright © 2006 Marilyn Boyd
They crowd the air,
drift, drawn back still to where
they made in Aotearoa their
direct their flight
high overhead, fly north:
so small in that immensity
Swiftly over the sea
they shrink, they disappear:
their living power and beauty lost
the bush, the sea,
the air – birds everywhere:
of those departed travellers
I scan the empty sky.
Dots swimming in light grow:
no – it is mere motes in the eye,
but also, briefly, here:
why do I fear that you will not return?
draw me into
deep swells of tenderness:
good to be in that pellucid lapsing.
warm love and me
the cold caesious sea:
mountains of water drown the moon
the waves return
always. Leaves, my love leaves
and returns, returns, but only
Lightning lit up and left
the darkness still darker:
You gave all substance, now leave me sightless.
Yet borne on swift wings, minds
still meet – and mist over:
Ah, the slow passion of pain, no bodies.
My thoughts do not reach you:
flowers, trees, mountains, clouds
the air above them, cannot touch
Purple end-of-day sky
wind-brushed with streaks of cloud:
So your brush-strokes still mark long thoughts
those Chinese words
I cannot read, that branch,
that rock: left space empty for you,
Only the near blossoms
and the far mountain mists:
can my breath blow the scent across that void?
The hills darken,
the pines burn and turn black.
Moon, star, almost touching: so near, so far.
Restless rollers reaching,
reaching, reaching the land
and quite stilled past the stirred shingle:
Copyright © 2006 Peter Dane
The Cinquain Sequence was published
in Loving Art (Hudson Cresset, 2004).
Peter's fifth book of poems is to be published in April 2006.