POETRY – Two poems by Vivian Thonger, Kerikeri

Clean (Bay of Islands)

The boatman uses an old tea towel
printed with a faded map of New Zealand
to grasp and steady slippery snapper
and flapping trevally, as paying tourists
heave their laden hooks aboard the boat.

If the fish is regulation, laid
slapping on the measuring board,
he picks up his awl and with care
eases it behind the gills
and straight through the head
and although officially dead, one obstinate
stabbed trevally keeps leaping
against the the salted icebox lid.

On the way back to port he guts
and fillets every fish, laying it out
on the towel, paring away skin and fin
chucking pink bits, heads, whole spines
to gulls and shags patrolling the wake.

Done and whistling, he wipes his hands
on the bloody tea towel.
They are hardly clean.

Stop, Hey, What’s That Sound? (Haruru sonnet)

An engine throbs over hills to the north.
I expect the farmer in his 4×4
to crest in silhouette, cattle cantering ahead,
dog barks and bull bellows trailing
the procession of captive cutouts.

The hill is still. The engine revs. Perhaps
a ‘copter’s hurtling to the beach,
to hoist aboard a battered kayaker
coughed up onshore, his empty craft bobbing
off among the rocks, hijacked by dolphins.

Wrong. A plane emerges, shades of WW2,
twin vapour plumes expand and blanket
gorseflower culverts full of yellow cheer.
Roundup, not romance. I’m new here.

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