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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This poem is taken from PN Review 174, Volume 33 Number 4, March - April 2007.

Three Poems C.K. Stead


Auckland

There are dreamscapes
                               and realscapes.

                           This one I suspect
                                               is real
though the sun is walking on water
and the sea out at the yellow buoy
                                            is silk.

                An orange container-ship
is rounding North Head.
                           Green Rangitoto
pictures itself
and is not displeased.
                        Moehau, deep blue
insists on distance.

                              Swimming back
on my back
                               I become again
the connoisseur of clouds -
feathers and fleeces.

                            A gull drifts over
                                               a tern
                                     a gull again
white on
white
on blue.

                               A low-altitude
                                   exocet shag
                            (late for lunch?)
hurtles across.

                This is the life that goes
                                  godlessly on
a poem without words
a gift without conditions
                                        a present
without a past.


Elegy

(24.1.06)

1
'Forgetfulness'
                   that's the name of the ferry
                     but the process has begun
                   before you reach the wharf.

'Asphodel'
                                          that's Death
                                 giving itself airs -
a lovely name
a kindly aspect.

                                        Or might it be

'Narcissus'
after one who died of love
                              for his own fine face

for his own
sad story?


2
So you arrive in the dream
with a handwritten pile
                     from which the wind tears
                                 page and page and
pages -

                            so much remembered
                                                 so finely
forgotten.


3
It's the worm-eaten sheets
                             torn, stained, blotted
                                         the ferryman
likes best.

'Have a seat there.
Make yourself comfy.'

                        I hear him on the wharf
                                  the pirate sea-dog
John Silver
he his own parrot
cackling
                                    'Missing a word
                                                'a world
                                    'missing a word
'missing.'


4
'Elysium' -
have you been there?

        You pass through the needle's eye
                              cross the black river
in silence
(and I think in pain)
                                       to a sunlit field
                                               of yellow
nodding heads.

                                               'Daffodil.'

                   'Asphodel.'

'Narcissus.'


5
                                             Forgotten
all is forgiven.


6
Today would be my mother's
one hundredth birthday.
                                          She's there
somewhere
                                        the ferryman
                                           assures me.

                                          He tells me
she was reluctant to go
but silent -
                               stood in the prow
                                              no tears
and never looked back.


The Rower

Did grandfather Stead
(she wants to know)
row for Oxford

or Cambridge - or
(as sometimes asserted)
for one then

the other? These
claims for him I long
ago dismissed

but she's heard there's
a pewter mug inscribed
with his name

that proves it was
Oxford. I remember
a tall man

'well-spoken', who
came only at Christmas
and gave me

always a half
crown. Catholic, a
sinner perhaps -

everything he'd
ever owned lost or
spent - he was found

dead in his bed in
a rooming house in
Mount Eden

arms crossed
over his chest in
an act of contrition.

I tell her I think
he's rowing still
on the black river.

This poem is taken from PN Review 174, Volume 33 Number 4, March - April 2007.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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