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Water’s Path

Pine scent rises on this high dry knoll, below

water captured from the river eases its way north.

It is lured north by a stone groyne and the water

tamed by a gorge runs into concrete chambers to flow

around hills, under rivers, to come out here,

where the ground swells and dips and the water

in little surges gurgles as it passes bridge piles.

There are sand traps and eddies and fish,

and a concrete structure that lets the water

from another river drop into that from the first:

blended, they head for yet another river, to escape.

It is a journey in a journey, a walk along dry grass,

through glade, past rusting hulks of once-great

machines, whose innards are bleached by the sun.

Beyond the concrete sluices are cambered high

walls to deflect a river’s fury, and the water

is forced over low spillways to absorb its force,

and there is a great hole created by water’s flow

where salmon used to circle in slack water,

gathering strength for one last leap to death.

All along its languid length is the work of man:

neat fields, shining stock, belted galloways,

herefords and corriedales, and they stamp

and shy then put their heads down to graze until

they sag at the knees, crumple with a thud

and then the ground shakes and ducks rise in a skein



[This after a walk to the siphon on the South Ashburton River, under which the flows the Rangitata Diversion Race. It takes water from the Rangitata to the Rakaia and is topped up, if flows allow, by water from the South Ashburton]

One thought to “Water’s Path”

  1. Loving tribute to the waters and their engineers, John. What a fascinating bit of construction! I love the sounds through this, such as:
    and the water
    in little surges gurgles as it passes bridge piles.

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