POETRY by Kirsten Warner, [formerly] of Tutukaka


Joe Griffen photo

PHOTO – ‘Courts’ – Hokianga series by JOSEPH GRIFFEN


The Place Of Kupe’s Great Return

After all he’d been through –
a child lost at sea
the cutting of supplejack
naming the land into being
obstruction and resolution
sinew and circumnavigation –
to leave his son
seems some kind of collateral

though there’s no guarantee
of return for we who have left
a part of ourselves here.
From the high dunes I look back
to a cleft in the harbour
where Kupe settled not so long ago
from where he set sail,
weather and remembering all over
Hokianga freshly made under each living sky.

Time nests looser here,
the wellspring of moonlight,
in the graffiti of old conversations
the endless becoming and undoing
of trestle without table, empty bleachers
exposed rafters holding up the show
the retrograde longing
of sunlight and stacked chairs
exit and repair just a blink away
it’s always three o’clock
since the pub closed.

Barn on a tilt up a back road
oil drum kennel the dog long gone
farming wasn’t easy
living never is
there’s a lot to hold on to
a lot to let go
and always the river,
separating and connecting
emptying and filling.




“This poem was written as part of the photographic exhibition and book Last Call For Drinks, of photographs of the Hokianga by Joseph Griffen and Sam Montgomery.  [Over here.]  Last Drinks refers to a pub which is now disused – the Hokianga’s layers of history, presence and absence.  As Joseph Griffen is my son, the poem also refers to the loss of the child as the son becomes an adult – and finds his own attachment to the Hokianga.”

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