Thursday, May 7, 2015

For Scotty - Alpinist 49


A glacier is like a tree, you said
as I hacked its melting skin
carving glass steps for tourists,
air bubbles escaping folds in the ice

In kaupapa Maori
everything has a story
Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere, they called it
Tears of the Avalanche Girl

Her lover Wawe fell to his death here,
the weight of gravity too much,
before Cook sailed south
with his empty map

Along this angry coast
choked with thick greenery,
he remarked on two curious clouds low in the valleys
Strange how their paths almost mirror the other

You pointed out ice rings like tree rings
blue within blue, the story of the glacier
Cameras can never fully capture it
Timetables never quite fit

At lunch the clients fidgeted with impatience,
Franz Josef groaning quietly beneath
Your face wrinkling into a thin smile
the depths of a crevasse

Each day the glacier dies
just a little bit from sunlight, you said
Bedrock uncovering like treasure
quartz crystals nestled in the mud

Tears of light momentarily exposed
But when it rains you laugh
Look!
Today the glacier grows.

I remember how you took up the offer
of my offhand dinner invitation,
your hand on my shoulder
two weeks before you took your own life

+++

At Okarito I sit in coarse sand
the grey sea churns
dusk's half-light stealing memories
till I've nothing more to give,
to the go-home sound of waves
hushing in retreat
and the distant lightning
that ties ocean to cloud

Then I'm next to your mother
in view of that great, fallen trunk of ice
and she says
'No one can hurt you now.'





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