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Hilltop: A Literary Paper. Volume 1 Number 2

James K. Baxter

page 18

James K. Baxter

1 Night in Tarras

At evening tramping on the hot white road
By Tarras, where a shadeless sun beats down
On range and river, scorching snowgrass brown
And dwarfish trees—we came where a small stream flowed
From the rocks, a fructifying angel, glowed
Among green cresses, deep enough to drown
Our thirsty flesh; and at the ridge's crown
The whitewashed pub, lethean night's abode.

A wind sprang up from nowhere as the sky
Darkened. We raised the latch of rowan wood
And entering laid our money on the high
Curved bar. And ghosts came round us unwithstood
And drank beside us, travellers born to die,
Like wolves, lapping their honey mead and blood.

2 Sea Change

From dunes where once the Maori ovens burning
Calcined the clay, and now the groundlark nests
Among swordgrass, I watch where the bland sea rests
In Ovidian deluge over fields, and spurning
Tangle of stack and byre high on the smoking crests
Till but the primeval tumuli remain, drowned breasts
Suckling limitless ocean, the land to womb returning.

When fish fill churches and sleek dolphins browse
Upon land-herbage, then our earth will know
Utopian quiet. Till that time I dowse
For buried fountains, bid the thistle grow
Ripe figs, and harvest summer grapes in snow—
Lend my vain wor4ds to prop a falling house.