Thursday, May 7, 2009

Catherine Mair & Patricia Prime: FOREBEARS

I swish back the curtains. There's a drowned cabbage-tree silhouetted against the sea-grey sky. Rain forms a mini-waterfall from each sword-like leaf. At the supermarket I notice sunflowers propped in a bucket. Sunflowers! for a rainy day. Sunflowers to brighten Mum's room at the resthome.

an afternoon
for videos—which?
reading glasses at home

The chapbook "Molly's Room" lies on the table. The photo collages remind Duncan of his great-grandparents who arrived in New Zealand in 1870 to set up shop in Remuera (now one of Auckland 's high-end shopping centres). He recalls how an uncle 'married' a Maori girl and fathered five children before his lawful wife arrived from Britain and he fathered another seven with her. The Maori 'wife' returned with her children to her whanau, but one daughter remained with her father. Missionaries taught her to play the piano and eventually she became a concert pianist.

his scarred hand
fingers the pages

Skeletons in cupboards. The ambiguity of surnames. How, why—our father, your father?

family wedding
duskier skins
on one side of the church

by Catherine Mair and Patricia Prime
Katikati, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
and Auckland, New Zealand



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