Sunday, July 25, 2010

Betty Duffy Will Like This One



Bonfire
James K. Baxter

They have lighted a bonfire on the beach beyond
The old shellfish midden - the young ones jiving and
Stamping their feet in the flicker of the flames,
Barefoot, their heads tilted back,
Utterly absorbed.
The gaunt man watching
Thinks - 'Hooligans' - and his wife - 'How heavy
This drugged weight that I must carry
Always uphill . . . '
Some will go
Home later, but others two by two will vanish
Into the dunes, wearing their jeans and sandals -
And like a slow vapour from the ground,
Or silence between words, the hunters who made that
Midden of shells with a different colour of absence
Possess the widening flesh. A child conceived out of these hot embers
Will hear the surf's voice like a stumbling language
And be a masterless man.


1967

1 comment:

BettyDuffy said...

Aw, thanks for thinking of me, Otepoti. I do like this one. Especially the last line--what an indictment--and yet, most likely literally true, as young people having sex on the beach are a.) not likely to stay together and become involved parents and B.)not likely to consider God and his commandments the master of their lives.

What I can't make out, and actually, it's been sort of a common theme in the image of married love in these poems--is the gaunt man's wife and her heavy uphill load. Is her husband such a prig that they cannot go to the midden of shells themselves? or does it come from her--She's become a curmudgeon? She's ovulating and already has ten kids?

I think my favorite portrait of married life in these poems has been Baxter's "He Waiata mo Te Kare" :"Woman, it is my wish
Our bodies should be buried in the same grave."--this longing for one another even in the midst of considerable differences.