Still Life with Boulders

Stephen Oliver

 

Oparure Road, Waitomo

 

Not quite stubble, more the plucked flesh of fowl,

after the maize harvest, cut to the grain, close cropped

paddocks. An April sun draws shadows across the land,

 

velvety black, thick as sump-oil, the air glass bright,

though filtered as if the light voltage had dimmed, but

nothing as definite as that, except for the sliding

 

partitions that are invisible, so that the plucked flesh

has become crew-cut paddock, and barely a minute gone.

The scene slipping by seemingly so ancient every second

 

caught up in an eternity of stillness, and the light that

lacquers the surface of everything, shiny as an iridescent

backed beetle on line-after-line of maize stubble, in

 

the slow and wondrous tilt of the earth, barely audible

yet felt—each valley holds its own set of mediaeval ruins,

as if one fortified town had fallen one after the other,

 

reduced to foundations of stacked limestone, half buried,

boulders strewn over hillsides, loosed from some trebuchet;

the violence long since retreated back to the underworld.

 

Stephen Oliver is the author of 17 volumes of poetry. Travelled extensively. Signed on with the radio ship The Voice of Peace broadcasting in the Mediterranean out of Jaffa, Israel. Free-lanced in Australia/New Zealand as production voice, newsreader, radio producer, columnist, copy and feature writer, etc. After 20 years in Australia, currently in NZ. His latest volume, Intercolonial, a book length poem, published by Puriri Press, Auckland, NZ (2013). A transtasman narrative. Creative non-fiction in Antipodes, June 2014, and poetry in Contrappasso, August 2014.

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