Fleming.

I remember
Kanye West’s first, and best,
blaring through the cheap headphones
of my fancy disc man
wondering if four hours in the left hand seat
of the car might be shorter this time.
Rubbernecking at the wishing tree by
Te Ara-o-Hinehopu
brown eyes like saucers peering
over the frame of the car window,
begging Mum to slow down
so I could finish a wish
for a new Barbie Doll
from The Warehouse in Whakatane
where Lady Wairaka stood on solid rock,
once knee deep in water, shouting
“Kia Whakatane au i ahau”
paddles carving waves of change
hauling her boat to the shoreline.

I remember
the difference between a Scottish
and a Californian thistle,
the way Andrew star-jumped over
the latter at Waimana Road,
and hobbled, bent double the rest of the way
towards the milk shed fearing for his future children
wailing in small-boy pain.
The mustard-gold of the ragwort pollen
dusting the toes of our Skellerup boots
as we cleared another paddock
for grazing, collecting hand-picked bunches
of sweet clover for the horses.
Bacon and egg pie for the shearers
with enough tomato sauce to stage
a horror scene in a Tarantino flick
sliding down the sheep chutes
and the way the lanolin made my skin itch
soothed by long baths in chlorine
in the duck-egg blue tub at Nana and Granddads.
Button pattern mosaics on the living room floor
rendering it unliveable save for the stillness
surrounding the six-o-clock news
and another of Jim Hickey’s unreliable
weather reports.

I remember all the dog’s smiling eyes,
the way the soft, pale fur of their bellies
brushed the tips of the grass rounding up the sheep
and when Kate had
PUPPIES!
A half-dozen littler, nestled in the
warmth of the loose hay bales,
naming them every day with something new,
whispering in their soft ears that
they could ruin the button mosaics
if they liked
and wondering how many we would be taking
back to Auckland,
envisioning the venomous looks of jealous daggers
the popular girls at school would be throwing at me
and my new best four-legged friends.
I remember Rusty the tortoise shell cat,
the way she mourned her kittens,
and Spot and Smudge, the strays
which was which, I never knew
but I was glad they came, and stayed.

Lifting the lid of the treasure chest
in my mind I remember,
spreading snap shots and relics of time
across the floor of another house
tears of joy spilling from tired eyes staining my cheeks,
the way the melting droplets of
another summer time Fruju would
become one with the asphalt
as we rode our bikes along the road,
stopping to flick stones at the cars
on the home from the Four Square
to Fleming’s.

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