Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Experiment 8

The Sugar Loaf At Nelson

page 15

The Sugar Loaf At Nelson

Almost a legend in the valley below,
The hill towers above fertile gardens
Where they tell tales of an extinct volcano
Whose crater is now filled in, and how
From the quarry one winter morning
It seemed to become a destructive force
And immense boulders fell without warning
On the road, a danger to houses and people.

Without exaggeration, the hill is steep.
Like the side of a house, or a ship.
A ship it is here, certainly. The street
Ends in the sea, and the pointed spires
Shrouded in mist derisively play
With the sun. No back Cyprus towers
In the distance: merely Golden Bay.
I climb the hill to find the crater
The eye longs for the sea in the heat
(yet midwinter here) and watches
The wakes left by the fishing fleet
Out to sea. This perpendicular
Slope is gorse-covered, dense, and hates me.
Here's a dead bird. The feathers are red
Round her beak; her eyes don't see,
Her claws are clenched on air. She's not
Fine company; no conversation.
Perhaps other people will appear.
Prophecy fulfilled: vigilant and thin
Under white robes, three sheep stand
Appearing from the East like the wise men,
And, finding me, come no further.
I reach the sheep tracks, and bound then
One to another, like a hill dweller.
Imagine if one lived on steeps
Always, how strange to walk on flat.
Now goat's paths rise, not sheep's,
And wind crasily towards the summit.
There, welcoming, five outlaws
Stare fixedly at me, the walrus
Blowing on a rook. One baas;
The noise is like a drake trying
To quack. So much for that.

I call aloud: Don't go away!
The youngest (only a kid) is still
And listens; they move no more. Here
Am I, and there are they. Will
They ask me to join them (No,
Stranger! You do not belong)
They live on the goats paths, their roof
Is the sky, and their life not long.
I stare at the boats, out to sea.
And remember, without cause, suddenly,
Why I started up this hill
Called a sweet name in the city
But otherwise by crazy types who climb it.
The internal rumblings heard below
Are not in the hill but the next valley;
The giant-strewn boulders perhaps also
Came there normally. And the crater?
A dip, certainly, and it's possible there's
A shaft here to the Centre of the Earth;
But as my friend the young goat says,
There's grass to eat, and that is so
And rocks beneath the grass also.