The Clothesline

The rotary clothesline had stood
In a moat of water and mud
Ever since the day it was delivered
On the ute, when the wire lines had quivered
Like motion lines of helicopter blades
Threatening to lift the car above the traffic lanes,
White flags on the metal bar tips waving a fond farewell.

Ever since then it had not quite landed.
On a concrete stub of an island it was stranded
While the cavity of the surrounding earth
Had filled up with rain.

The installation job was left unfinished
And the act of hanging out washing was diminished
By the water trough hazard, as in getting too close
To a drain.

Symbolically, the notion of cleanliness was incongruous
With this marriage of soil and unsoiled, a congress
Of mud-filled depths and fresh sunlit air
Arranged.

Til a year later the hole was filled.
The clamourous cry of opposites was stilled,
And the worms slept gently under a conventional-looking line.
Hanging out the washing was a safer task.
The cool wet clothes, and the eyelids basking
In the warmth of reaching up to feel the sun.

And though the pole in truth was no shorter,
Only less exposed at the base –  in some quarter
Of heaven the angels dimmed the lights again.
For before the clothesline had been an axis mundi,
A Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, not just for Sunday
Washing day, but a place betwixt earth and heaven.

The serpents slipped away from the chthonian moat.
A plastic basket was placed where a castle had stood.
The rod of light sent no messages to the starry skies above.
No boots lapped the edge of a clift by the waters.
No horizons were scanned, no king’s ransom or daughters
To rescue, no moats to cross, no quests for love.

No  fear in reaching skyward  with branching arms.
No helicopters in heaven in a day-dreaming balm.
The stretch between earth and the angel’s roosts was ended.

Ten minutes it takes to peg out a load of washing.
I’m thinking ahead not dreaming, and my shoes not sloshing.

25th September 2014

Wellspring Parau Retreat


The land with stand of kauri, crown of copper leaves
(That rests on brow of Parau headland), weaves
From understory and undergrowth, a cloak
Of green that drapes on shoulders, gentle slopes
(The cloth of rimu, kahikatea, miro, and ponga grows,
Harakeke flax and grasses fall like fringe below,
Nearly touching where rocky toes reach into the sea,
Mighty Manukau’s tidal waters keep soles of the feet clean).
And in the soft cloak’s embrace is warmed the heart – those
Drawn to take a part in (what the future only knows
Will be achieved) – the path of Wellspring Parau Retreat.