murchison afternoon

 murchison afternoon

for sure
it wouldn’t have
gone ahead much
since its heyday
already broken*
in your days here
a man of the mountains
come down to the town
for flour, a beer,
a look through the
general store
never bargaining
on prices, at most
just shaking your
head with hat
in hand.

in the pub
getting a coffee
i saw a photo of
a local hero with a
name like a sailor’s poem,
‘George Fairweather
Moonlight’, a man
you might have
heard talk of
in your days here
shadow piled up
those pine slopes
into late sun
on branch
flanks eastward
now stood
down in dark
looked up that
road the sign
‘matakitaki valley’
points at in the
sluice of sun
remembering bits
and pieces of what
you might have
told us a gold
nugget fixed on
a tiepin all you
kept over you
told us yet
your words
the same over
years went
much further
than you’d ever
have thought
have brought me
to this country
intersection of a
late afternoon
made of sky
and river stone
an afternoon
you might have
ridden straight
on through,
dad.

december 24, 2011
murchison – westport

*Murchison was almost completely devastated in the earthquake of 1929 that struck the South Island. My father searched for gold up the Matakitaki valley during the Great Depression.

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