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June 2006, vol 2 no 2

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Jeffery Harpeng

1872 etc.

We crow-barred out the fireside cupboard, found penciled on the skirting board: Henry Banton entered this house Dec 1872. Wise's 1870 street Directory lists four addresses in Poulson St. In 1928 Henry Banton died at another address, after 50 years working for the same engineering firm.

The earliest extant survey of the property post-dates World War II. Wedged between rectangular allotments, the yard is a green triangle pointed toward Antarctica.

I am on the roof to demolish one of three chimneys, with a thousand bricks to go. The blue sky is my phantom second skin, with the nervous system severed. Sometimes a ghostly dialog occurs with no translation of the grammaticaly at odds languages.

On the far side of the house there are ten green paces to the eastern fence-line. An old world rose, staked to splint a broken stem, grows under the spread of a sycamore. A platform tree-house perches where the tree branches out. There is a crows-nest for small theatre, for small daydreams.

The lawn below is that deep of green that absorbs the light the heart gives off.

leaning on the mower...
how fleeting
the spring clouds

Pacing further east, five minutes stroll, there is a green square, hemmed with sycamores and at the eastern edge of the square facing east there is a white-stuccoed church. A separate bell tower commemorates those fallen and a green park bench invites reverie. The square punctuates Poulson Street just after it flexes, past the council flats, the Salvation Army refuge and its store.

Well to the left of the square's roofed gate, which faces north to Hagley Park is a statue by the son of the poet who died days after announcing 'My doctor tells me I've got years to go.' Lew Summer's statue is an earth mother—a stone mother.

new mown lawn—
the fat statue
hugs her child

Even in summer she is cool to the touch. Come winter her round stone back is grayer with the lowering clouds. Her turned head rests on her child's head. With a heavy pulse, there is warmth in her stone heart?

back to blown leaves—
the fat statue
hugs her child

Years later I have returned to my sunburnt homeland cooler in my heart.

my children now grown—
the fat statue
still hugs her child