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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #46 'Pakuranga Lemonade' - Michael O'Leary

Pakuranga Lemonade

(Winter 1986)

put two lemons in a paper bag
add some brown sugar to taste and then …
fill the bag up with water
quickly, before the bag gets soggy, lie it on the ground
and stamp on it as hard as possible with one foot,
this recipe is guaranteed to give you at least one wet leg
and is quite undrinkable
a tree which loved lemons gave it to me
lemons had been the fruit
now this tree had been sacrificed
so that people could have a swimming pool
thick lumps of heavy, dead clay
had clogged its roots and killed its will
death came gradually –
the Polynesian labourer was the only one to see it
because people of Pakuranga had walked by him
as though he was a dead tree in their suburb
and in their white fright they saw him
as a leafless, ugly vision of wild threat
but he looked at the lemon tree and its outstretched branches
and saw that his brown skin matched the brown bark
so that as he lifted shovel load after shovel load
his dreams were of coconut trees and bright flowers
and catching fish in the sea of his island home of light
and colourful birds,
meanwhile, the other people
kept an eye on the progress of the hole in the ground

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