The cabbage trees, it is said, were planted by Maori
to guide them inland from the coast, but here,
they are markers on the undulating blacktop, firm
against the wind, passing fronds to the earth.
They are beside a road beside a paddock beside another.
They are anchors, rooted deep, to say to all:
We are here, we have stayed yet you have left.
You have carved up the land and filled it green.
There is no bracken, no towering beech.
So we drive by, to the hills, songs in our ears
yet hear nothing of the land’s song.
We do not see the crests of up-pushed land,
nor the little natives fighting to survive
the pouring on of water, the might of the mower.
We see only man’s work, feel a false pride