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Sport 35: Winter 2007

Tony Beyer — Processing Jerusalem

page 120

Tony Beyer

Processing Jerusalem


the river map
shows houses
bridges and moorings
of disproportionate size

suggesting fish
it'd take more
than a pickaxe head
and fencing wire to land

some houses
abandoned a generation
shelter vines and weeds
before collapsing

in their rooms
and passages
time's minutiae
are mutely sifted

a single stone
honed by the river
is carried up
to be carved with a name

but rain and wind
work names
back into stone
and occlude them

page 121

blind as the feral moon
the stone glides
under water
out of memory

hills cut to mist
at a certain height
another light
and water border

hitch hikers
huddle in the shelter
happy to go either way
as long as it's gone

pants cuffs boot soles
stuck with mud
that dries to silt
finer than sand

those who've travelled
all this way
to see Jesus
usually bring him with them

everyone admires
a god
whose death
feeds his people

the most ancient
binding custom
we drank rain

page 122


after a gratifyingly plump
winter kereru
thumped feet first into a tree
beside our heads
I talked to one of the Sisters

about the weather and the church restoration
three-quarters done with scaffolding
still around the steeple
floorboards back in
pews and tabernacle yet to return

then we slid our way up the mud track
to where a woman with dreads
floated out of a dark house waving permission
for us to visit the burial site
steeped in thirty-odd years' peace


the digital camera decants
on to the monitor screen
images already edited
to exclude
bird song
dog shit
and the literal breathing of the place
contained by hills that melt
somewhere near where the sky ends
and houses full of a tense
aromatic emptiness

page 123


imagine being stuck on a boat with a whole lot of French people

the week after we were there
slips on the road after heavy rain
forced pilgrims to jetboat upriver
for the church rededication

and a bishop and cardinal from France
all frightfully hardy in the Whanganui winter cold

beaucoup haere mai haere mai

wooden houses and remoteness impressed them
and the straightforward compassion their saint prospect
brought with her and allowed to spread
like pollen rising into the hills

seeing the needs of others and of the land

next it was downstream and beyond
to celebrate Bastille Day in the capital

nun (a poetic expression
if ever there was) concluded

for us it feels like the end of the world

page 124


sometimes I dream about dining with Baxter
(chestnuts wild goat wormy mushrooms)

or sharing an afternoon with Mother Aubert
(lavender tisane)

our interlocutions are courteous
but unmemorable