26 August 2008

Lake Otamangakau (rev)


The roaring of Te Whaiau intake weir
intrudes as sleep eludes again to soar
across the lake on white-tipped, swan-
wide wings. Defiant wild cat's call, a
tuneless howl that crashes through the
nylon walls which stem the thrust of
night, comes taunting in, curdles dreams,
itching in the seams of somnolence.

Awake, aware in tented night, a flax bush
shuffled glissé tread of frond on frond and
seed-pod prattle marching on the fractious
wind surrounds the tent, and lake, and night.

Otamangakau, swamphen sanctuary in raupo
days when mangatoetoe stalks were lances
massed to hold the mountain's fire and flax
grew greedy in this hollow. Otamangakau,
the anglers bowl where fledgling streams
enticed here mingle: moaning through the
pumice tunnels roiling in the concrete tumbrel,
spend their youth in sluggish flow; alpine children
named like music – naive, enchanting Whakapapa
comes resounding from its ski-slope, snow-fed
quarters, Mangatepopo, soda waters, adding
basso tones in concert from the cratered face of
Tongariro, sprightly Wanganui frolics over lava
tangles heedless of its sluggish, adult reaches
far below.

A statue in obscenity, the dredge which gouged
the channel and disgorged the levee mutely curses
all who pass; a monument abandoned, Trojan horse
reviled in Te Whaiau’s graceful sweep: promise of
these waters draws me past this chancre, its gaunt
squat shell invites no second glance when silver
phantoms deep in the greenstone lake dance
in my eyes.
© 1975, I.D. Carswell