In the dream I am lost in a Maori graveyard
Among the dunes of sand,
And like a wave of black water
The makutu hits me. No terror like this,
Latrines, ovens, graves, a woman’s anger
Splitting my skull with a stone axe,

Yet it is Te Whiro who wields the axe
Or else te taipo, the masters of the boneyard
Where I have to walk. Why should the Maori anger
Rise from the roots of the grass and the sand
To choke the soul of this
Old pakeha? To drown in deep water

Is the fate of those who go into the water
Of the marae. I know why the axe
Is raised above my skull. I know why this
Dream comes out of Te Whiro’s yard
To flatten a house built on sand
With the storm of an old anger,

And I accept the anger
As drowning men open their lungs to the water
Because the battle among the dunes of sand
Is won by losing it. I know the axe
Of the makutu was made in a yard
Where warriors drank black water before this

For their mother the land. The towns built over this
Black bog of a people’s anger,
Sweet-shop, jail and railway yard,
Will fall like leaves into the water
When willows are chopped by the farmer’s axe.
Blood swallowed by the sand

Rises again out of the sand.
On an old pakeha’s head let this
Makutu break its axe,
Since anger breeds anger.
The one who walked the water
Has no voice in Te Whiro’s yard

Except that the yard’s dark sand
Should drink down like water this
Old man’s blood, and aroha, not anger, blunt the axe.


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