wordsout by Godfrey Rust  collection  Poems I'd like to have written    home


Nighttime vapor trails

The Ikons
by James K Baxter

Hard, heavy, slow, dark,
or so I find them, the hands of Te Whaea

teaching me to die. Some lightness will come later
when the heart has lost its unjust hope

for special treatment. Today I go with a bucket
over the paddocks of young grass,

so delicate like fronds of maidenhair,
looking for mushrooms. I find twelve of them,

most of them little, and some eaten by maggots,
but they’ll do to add to the soup. It’s a long time now

since the great ikons fell down,
God, Mary, home, sex, poetry,

whatever one uses as a bridge
to cross the river that only has one beach,

and even one’s name is a way of saying –
‘This gap inside a coat’ – the darkness I call God,

the darkness I call Te Whaea, how can they translate
the blue calm evening sky that a plane tunnels through

like a little wasp, or the bucket in my hand,
into something else? I go on looking

for mushrooms in the field, and the fist of longing
punches my heart, until it is too dark to see.