Hut near Desolated Pines
Cobwebs and dust have long
Deadened an old man’s agony.
The choked fireplace, the chair
On its side on the mud floor
May have warmed an old man’s
Bones or propped them upright
While his great head nodded;
Fantastical images may have stirred
His mind when the wind moaned
And sparks leapt up the chimney
With a roar. But what great gust
Of the imagination threw wide
The door and smashed the lamp
And overturned both table and chair … ?
A rabbiter found him sprawled
By the door — no violence, nothing
To explain, but the hungry rats
That scurried over the fouled straw.
A foolish lonely old man
With his whiskers matted with dung.
Since when birds have stuffed the chimney
With straw, and a breeze flapped
Continually through the sack window;
And all the while the deft spiders
Doodled away at their obituaries,
And the thin dust fell from the rafters …
Nothing but cobwebs and dust
Sheeting an old man’s agony.
By Alistair Te Ariki Campbell