Place is bottled lightning in a shop,
or in a chandelier’s glass tear-drop,
or in a glow-worm’s low watt grot,
or in street neon’s glottal stop -
wow-eh? wow-eh? wow-eh?
Place is the moulded face of a hill,
or lichen like beard on a window sill,
or the bare spaces that shadows fill,
or ancestors growing old and ill,
or descendants at the reading of a will,
who frown and examine their fingernails
before plunging off down the paper trails
of diary and letter and overdue bill.
Place is the home of family trees –
family trees to wrap round plots of soil,
tree roots to shrivel into umbilical cords,
tree branches to spill bones and skulls;
but even trees are just a spidery scrawl
against the shelf-life of a mountain wall.
Place is a brood perched on power-poles:
bellbirds with shadows of gargoyles,
korimako who clutch the power of one,
like an egg, to trill their familiar song.
Place is grandsons who sprawl
in the family tree with laughter;
place is the tree windfall,
gathered up in the lap of a daughter.
‘Place’ from Rhyming Planet (Steel Roberts, 2001), © David Eggleton 2001, used by permission of the author.
Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004.