Oamaru

Is:

 

The sea reaching for the breakwater;

 

A wooden boat tipping in the swell;

 

The sweep of a waitress’s skirt;

 

A teacup’s rattle on Tees Street, where they have cinnamon water in a white room with a high ceiling, and the conversation rises and rebounds;

 

A man in a collarless shirt working a drawknife in a red shed where you smell salt and walk past a red geranium;

 

The bookseller with Janet Frame (on special), her ample wooden desk, the pantry where she ran as a child;

 

The bookseller with sagging couches and creaking floors and who binds a sale with twine;

 

The bookbinder with little round glasses;

 

The worn-down step of Lane’s Emulsion and the swing doors of the pub on the corner where they sell deep dark beer.

 

Here there is steampunk and an engine riding to the sky, bolts and iron welded to the imagination, rearing

 

To a sky of scudding white beneath which is a café clad in iron, rusting for your pleasure;

 

An endless main street past open fields and rich ground through which Jersey Bennes spring;

 

Scent of steak and jammy nuts dusted white and sweet and resting on plates made when your grandmother was a child; cake plates three high;

 

The smart-step of leather on cobble, the sweep of tweed and serge and a man in a pinstripe shirt and a bowler proving that fashion is nothing new and was better at a time of high-stepping horses and penny-farthings.

 

And look: there is one, an iron horse, black as night beside buildings of white –

 

Come for tea, for a book.

 

Come to see Happy Bay, the collie in the little waves, the boy with the ball, the man in the waistcoat.

 

Listen: it is a radiogram, it is the ocean, a boy –

 

It is time

 

Unwound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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