Hoisting history on his back like a sugar – sack, The swagger strides along greenstone trails. All night the crib creeks are humming home, And drowned towns float in their canvas shrouds. They are just the ghosts of their original selves, An emotional investment looted by snow-melt for, Schemes to answer the question of illumination. To tap this yearning for a golden age, Singing shepherds held wisps of tussock Which curled like lighted Chinese joss-sticks On the fan – tan tables of sly-grog dens, Frozen in that glacier known as the past. In the forgotten graveyards, hair grows into grass While wind sifts the sweet vernal over and over, Like diggers letting gold dust pour through their fingers. The Kingston flyer is chuffing On the great Northern Railway to Wakatipu, John Turnbull Thompson cut the run holders loose With a panoramic survey and the confidence of a faith healer In the middle of Queen Victoria’s royal century, When the boom-time harvest of Celtic place names Seeded central like a nouveau-Hiberian dialect From Balclutha to Glimmerburn to Glendhu bay. Winter arrives on time in a glitz blitz of powdery snow. The hoar frost in a Quartztpoils of ice crystals Turning weeping willows into frozen chandeliers. Some strung the coils of number eight into fences As trail bikes took to the state highway with a roar And the rain shower passed a plume Over small towns that are hardly seen for hills. Tarns prickle with bubbles from upland soakage at the start of Wakatipu on mounts Humboldt and Forbes. Pasture stands four- square To the intersection of lakes Hawea and Wanaka, from where Nat Chalmers shot the gorge in a flax raft with his guides After descending Mount difficulty in flax sandals, The first Pakeha to see Lake Wakatipu, for which he paid Reko and Kaikora a three legged pot – Te Kohoa! Viper’s bugloss is the honeyed heart of the hive and veranda shadows are dark as delphiniums. The four-fold path of the farmer leads to hot and cold taps, the meat-safes a Muslim bag, but the kerosene lamps gone The way of aunt Daisy’s and uncle scrim’s voices on the wireless Or goals from the boot and pine-tree when rugby took a capital. Braids of rivers run dreadlock plaits from a taniwha’s Stone head, so his blind eyes spurt waterfalls and his chest is the sucking valley of a mudslide, when swollen rivers heave against mountain flanks and sinkholes laden with silt roar old man floods here! He’d ride the whaleboat molyneaux from its tributaries To the sea, or disgorge the matau of its spears and hooks, If they hadn’t drained the hydro-electricity, way back. Rivers rule our lives, gurgling, puddling, dripping, Working the lake country round like a greenstone, Turning out a tiki of interlocking curves flowing Into Waipounamu, which breathes its green glow, Of purple grape froth trickling a ripe roses scent And beetroot palate into our salad day memories. Views of the lake in its many moods: sometimes quiescent, Like a windowpane stippled with rain, behind which Cucumber leafage and swollen twigs revolve, and you Can imagine fridge-full’s of rare home brews, Or spiced-plum brandy, tots doled out to travellers; Sometimes waves snapping fierce enough to whip out All the tent pegs in canvas-town, with a wind able to upturn a wedding marquess’s trestle tables tomorrow. Days of wooden coach wheels bumping out of Ida valley on the old Dunstan road in journeys of the pioneers. Days realising meteorological balloons into a delicate apricot sky In this landscape we invent, as it invents us – From rock flake and spring water, from a skiff of froth Tumbling over a weir into the afterglow of the Aurora.