At the site of the future I light a fire …

By | 1 July 2006

warm my hands, scratch at my shadow leaning against a dry
crumpled stone. I'm
squatting,

staring at a sun spiked by the summits of Maungapohatu. In the bushes
birds sit, mesmerised by these flames.
Yesterday

you said you'd come back. You walked across the baked earth,
said you would be back – turned in the afternoon glare and
said it

and I believed it. In me you've become a
flicker of a thousand images, an ultramarine mirage
forming and reforming,

untouchable in spite of myself. In me I've this shape of a white-
painted figure coming in from the horizon of a desert. I'm
not alone. There's

another figure sticklike and identical and another and
another. It's not you who moves in single file, painted white and naked.
Not you. Not you. These men

hide nothing but their faces – eyes hooded and deep set –
I sense I know them, sense the liquefying fulfilment of their intrusion. They
warm their hands

by the fire too – one chants softly to himself – one prays to his stones,
another sings under his breath, while another
performs the miracle

of them being here with me. This is the living site of the future, this
cold before the sun clamps onto a lifting cloud – these hands
spread before the

desert fire of my making, this feeding of new shadows, my
overwhelming focus on the deaths of moths dashing into the flames,
my thoughts of you

still vivid but changing to a traveller gone off to a distant land. You said you'd
come back but I don't believe it'll happen any more. One day these men will
disappear too.

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