The ferry Wahine, listing heavily amongst fog in Wellington Harbour, 10 April 1968.
Image: The Dominion Post Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.
six poems celebrating the end of the mechanical and the dawn of the virtual
I was born the day
New Zealand was
but in England. It was
a terrible winter, but soon,
The ex-Royal Navy frigates
named after Scottish lochs
bought in 1948
we translated into
Tutira, Rotoiti, Hawea.
My father sailed for the new
world in 1949, leaving
us behind to follow. His ship
made land at Crete en route
to mihi to the dead.
Later in the New Zealand Railways
we returned to the nineteenth
century: Ngahere, old Westland, timber
laden mill lokies creaking to the railway
yards. There was no television
but imaginary worlds.
Memoir has a bunch of
issues: you half forget what
you’re making up. Coronation
Street in black and white with
static. Mum was back in a kind
of Liverpool but really it was
1968 and the Wahine Storm
Yes, that storm. I was there and remember
it from the television: black hulk, black night.
Later, in Australia, ploughing way
out in the sticks on nightshift, men
were walking on the moon. They
had computers. We did not know
about computers, kangaroos ghosting
through the tractor headlights.
Lived through three kinds of
centuries: cell phone, laptop, online families. Came
all this way from anchor chains to
Facebook. Tomorrow will shimmer
like a line gone missing.
Jeffrey Paparoa Holman 2003-2017.