The pines on the ridge are about to cede
their colour to the night. Once more
light’s absence will shroud this place.
Not even car-lights on the highway below
(such is their need for road when it’s dark)
re-mark the trees – their placement
their particular explanation of green.
Soon the evening will lay claim too
to vestiges of villas which once stood
in the bush beneath the pines –
orphaned lawns, homeless paths
rhododendron that flower
among five-finger, tree fern, rata.
These last artefacts mark the bones
of grand abodes. These and a plaque
at the site of each home
listing its name, its history of dwellersits date of sacrifice to the road.
This poem, which appears in Tongues of Ash, came to me one day as I was staring out of my office, looking for inspiration. My view is over a State Highway onto a hillside, part of a reserve of native bush called Percy's Reserve and I remembered on one of my rambles there seeing the preserved sites of what once were houses.
The tone of the poem was a far from perfect attempt to capture what Bryan Walpert, one of Tuesday Poem's alumni once spectacularly achieved, in a poem called Aubade, which won the NZPS 2007 poetry competition. Evensong in a graveyard of villas was not based on Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, as one reviewer of Tongues of Ash once asserted.
Visit Tuesday Poem for more poems this week.