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Sport 35: Winter 2007

Vana Manasiadis

page 95

Vana Manasiadis

Talking Tectonics

You know, even if I hadn't come on the plane, on a bus, in a taxi, I'd get here at some point—cos that clever tektonos, that shifty carpenter, poet, boat-builder in the sky, he's been scheming all the while; been doing a bit of backyard DIY, a bit of god-honest labouring and jack-hammering on the boundary—right under that picket fence between the plates, between the kanuka and manuka.

There's a paratekstosyni afoot, a volcanic and magnanimous change, a winching and an earthmoving: those Alpine Ridges, those glaciers, plains and Hutt Valleys, they're slap-hugging the rest of the North Island goodbye—Ya old mudpool, ya long drawn out beach, ya tall and flashy neighbour, I'm off to the Arctic Ocean—I hear you're off to the Pontos—never heard of it.

And all this in broad daylight, Yiayia—can you believe it?

This is what I know: Oceanus gave birth to Styx, the Arcadian spring into which Achilles was dipped; from which Alexander got sick; whose water Iris drew and took to the Gods so that it might witness oaths. Or, Styx was the river mortals crossed.

Or, the ocean is what I'm standing in—one tiptoe on the Pacific rim and one not.

page 96

Historic Istor

Istor was a knowing man. As the recorder and keeper of the community register he knew everything about everybody. He knew when people had arrived, with what, why they'd come or hadn't left, how many houses they owned in Mt Victoria, how many cafes down Courtenay Place, what side their families had fought on in the civil wars, whether they voted National or Labour, were god-fearing or money-loving.

He'd quip: Look to your miser parents for the reason you're still a geronto-kori, after all these years an old maid; or: Hold down a job? Bloody infidel-apiste, you can't even hold your son down in a baptism.

Mum disliked him most: we can make a nice salata with the oil on his head, the vinegar in his heart; we can marry him to a goat and he wouldn't know the difference; or, his belly is a rotten yoghurt-cheese-myzithra.

The ten-years war between them began on the day she told him about her plan to turn us into Greek citizens and asked him for help in the matter. She attempted baking, cajolery and pandering conversation; but one afternoon, having lost all patience with pledges of help which never amounted to much, she shoved a sewing needle at his face and into the cabinet keyhole: you call yourself a Greek? Only a prodoti mixed-blood pig-traitor acts like this. And: you have woven a tangled histos Istor, but I am the Mrs spiderarachni around here, you can be sure of that.

Out of the drawer she pulled 1xBirth in Tavros Certificates, 1 x Marriage in the Church of the Assumption Certificate, 2 x Birth at St Helen's Certificates, 2 x Baptism at the same afore-mentioned church Certificates, 1 x Dissolution of Marriage in New Zealand Certificate.

Istor took stock. And his Mitre 10 wheelbarrow from the back room. He ran the barrow, full to the brim, to his garage on Brougham street and considered having a garage sale.

page 97


This is the truth of it: Icarus was dead set on seeing whether the
Wa Hine existed—that's why he took off one day.
His father had said: If you go, you'll need the constitution to
match—a strong will, a top navigational ability.
If you are successful, you can be whoever you please
—discoverer, inventor.
Then again, should you fail, you'll fall into the sea and drown.
You could breathe some life into these though,
glue new feathers into the empty spaces—
kiwi will do, moa would be better.

The trip was not easy. Twisters and tsunamis threatened Icarus at
every turn. His wings drooped under the weight of monsoons.
But he managed to remain airborne until he reached the Miramar
peninsula where a storm, perhaps even a cyclone, was blowing.
Icarus was tossed onto the paths of uprooted trees and roofing iron,
stray doors, and pots, and seaweed.
He got lost in laundry,
he tired, he sank.

Fishermen who'd been called to the siren's aid came across Icarus
bobbing in the water around Barrett's rock;
his wings spread about him. Mr Rawhiti pulled him up.
He said awesomely: what a kalo kahu huruhuru,
a fine feathered cloak.
He said: a Chief's son.