He Waiatanui kia Aroha

by Michael O'Leary

twilight falls
among the large stone buildings
grey monoliths – but undemanding
to the modern eye
as we walked towards the taxi
I stopped and wanted to kiss you
And you said maybe
- then we did kiss
holding our mouths together like beaks
- but sweet, ambiguous even
and I shuddered with emotion
- my whole being shook
- with the physical knowledge
- of our parting . . .

before we had met that evening
I had felt the fear and longing
of anticipation
- the uncertainty of what to feel
I sat in a café and drank slowly
a cool glass of orange
watching you
on the other side of the road
for a few moments
as you watched and waited
for signs of me
- then I drained
the remaining liquid
from the glass . . .

I took your arm as we walked
to our meeting eating place
our time out to be together place
where time goes in split seconds
so that an hour seems a minute
- is gone too soon and forever
and out is what happens
at the end of time . . .
but those precious moments
we are there, in our time capsule,
make up for all our partings
because I know what it’s like
to be without you . . .
All the years of wanting you
have softened me up
have made me sensitive
to the moments we are together
so that I treat each one
like a treasure: taurite he taonga . . .

you apologised for crying
(about your family) as we talked
- don’t apologise to me, Winsome,
you have probably not given
a show of emotion
(I was going to say weakness –
but I meant vulnerability)
private or public, too often
but I have cried openly
for the want of you
for the fact that we must be apart
- so don’t apologise to me . . .

twilight brings
its gradual descent of the night
on Seacliff
and the sea and
the clouds touch
merge into one blue-grey hue . . .
as with the sky
and the land
the trees turn ever darkening
shades of green
the last remaining residue
of crimson
is stretched, elongated
diffuse across the horizon
and these seen things
are mirrored within
as my thoughts of you
are repeated over and over
ever changing
ever increasing with the days
the same subtle blend as landscape
of colours and shapes
sometimes clearly defined
sometimes barely discernible
and sometimes
the darkness is complete

the incomplete nature of our beings
and the knowledge
glimpsed at through you
of what we need
to bridge that
separation . . .

the light beyond the horizon
is te Marama
who, when she shines
touches the silent, sleeping
soul of the earth
it is this unseen world
alive with the light
of the unknown
where my love for you
lies waiting -
beyond those tall trees
that rising darkness
and sensuous sundown
of strange, stark colours
te po, te po, te po aroha
the moonlight world
of our understanding
the Polynesian darkness
of light . . .

the other day
we met
in a public way –
friends talking
a hongi
and a kiss
from a girl
who said you were too much for her
so much so
that she had to go
(followed by dreadlocks, himself)
and the bond between us
couldn’t help itself
as we embraced with a passion
and stood holding hands
- despite all that was around us

the evil within me
which struggles for possession
of my mind and soul
in the ancient attempt
to bring me down
as it has done for generations
before and after me
- is quelled
by my responsibility to you

later I heard your telephone voice
full of the cares of domesticity
but still sweet
and coming from deep
within our history
so that despite the aloofness
and separateness
I sometimes feel
from your life
there is always a place
at which we touch

the candlelight flickered
and I was half in a dream
- more like a feeling of missing
you and not knowing you
I stepped outside
and there the moon was rising
like the tip of a lightberg
shining through the dense
cloud cover
and I thought
this is how I know you
with slowly
evolving revelation . . .
I am trying to think of you
I am trying to imagine
what you look like
and all I can do
is feel your absence
like a mystery waiting to be solved
I cannot be near you
at our timeout of the month
and the full moon is hiding behind the rain
(the tears of Rangi, e Papa)
the sky is filled with separation
the horizon is the natural split
between (the sea) the earth and the sky
- but there is no split
because there is
no touching

a picture of you
looks up, smiling
and connects me
to the world of feelings
the deep questions of life and
love and eternity
which have had their evocation so often
through you
you are my point
of contact with life, yet
you are so distant and yet again
that distance is
as the fine fibre of love you weave around me
tightens – it is
the dynamics of something set in motion
rather than necessarily an act of consciousness
- the earth is sleeping
dreams are walking around, entering
each heart, each body –
each soul is enchanted either by dreams
or nightmares haunting the darkness
with ever greater darkness
te ua, te ua, nga roimata ahau
te haunui o te wairua
te ariki o te ao
and in the beginning was the word . . .

wrapped in a blanket
I sit and listen
to the wind blow
hard out along the coast
whipping up the water
scraping and shaping the land –
sending chunks of sure cliffs
crashing to the sea below . . .
cold wind was always
the worst to work in
sapping energy from my body
even before the first shovel-load
had been lifted from the earth
taurite nga moehewa o Aroha . . .
but now the wind has dropped
perhaps it will wait –
then picking up my words
Te Hau will carry them
soaring southwards
over the dark hills
taking them gently
kia Aroha, down the valley
where they will reach you
as a whisper . . .

Michael O'Leary

Michael Oleary's picture

I am a poet, novelist, artist, and academic from Aotearoa New Zealand. I have had several books of poetry published including 'Toku Tinihanga: selected poems 1982 to 2002' - my latest collections were 'Paneta Street' 2008 and 'Livin' ina Aucklan' in 2010. At present I am working on a project called 'Fences Fall' which is a collaboration with myself and several musicians to produce a CD of songs based on my poems.

Last updated August 09, 2011