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Sport 33: Spring 2005

Going Bush Blues

page 169

Going Bush Blues

All that spring it hung in my head like a dream,
the shape of the phrase on his delicate lips.

One of the housetruck kids, a young man with
a wisp of young man's beard,
who came to the farm
one half-grey morning, wanting to borrow a horse.

He was going bush, he said, up into Kahurangi,
over Spooners and Buller. He was on a mission—
to sow the hills and valleys thick with marijuana.
He needed the horse to carry the seed,
and stay ahead of the law.

No, we had to say, the great god No—
the only spare horse was a mare in foal.

Someone saw him a few days later, walking upriver,
a lopsided rucksack on his back.


That was the week the towers fell.

My thoughts turned to New York, to the city in dust—
as all thoughts did—
as the crucifix of the second plane,
made its endless fights across our TV screen;

and I thought of that housetruck kid
out there in the bush,
and the tarot he'd produced, offering the future to us;

page 170

and how one card, the Tower,
those broken falling people in flames,
had slipped from his long, thin fingers,
onto our kitchen floor.


And I thought of my father's first cousin,
Matt Wilson, brother of Pat and Dooley—
how he'd gone bush in '62,
and wasn't found for ten more years, his white bones
in a creek-bed, somewhere in Taupo.

And how Dooley had told me this
in Tauranga, as he opened a door,
thirty-five years on.

The door gave onto a wardrobe
filled with nautilus shells, the loot of
a lifetime's diving—the glow of their undulating light
seemed to halo his pale head.


But I mostly thought of this:
of a clip I saw, flashed on the six o'clock news,
and never saw again—

old footage of Osama on a horse.

He's taken to the hills, the news anchor said,
and the White House sending a posse out there,
to ride him down,
the army on horseback again, he said,
with the slightest flick of a grin—

as though it were his to be telling us

when the end of the world would begin.