Brother, they want me to write you a review but I'm not going to do it. Another book is out. Your collected works.
There you are again - all beautiful and bountiful. Lush. Lippy. And winking. I'm off to the drawing board. Christ, you're a hard man to keep dead. The poems keep sticking you back together again; Rain, No Ordinary Sun, Ani Rose, To a Giant Figure ... I can hear you croaking. Very flash. Bloody nice.
Congratulations. God only knows what you are now, some other sea or land or sky? Down (or up) here, you're in a million pieces. Everyone has a version. You won't like it but that's the way it is, so shut up. You are beloved. No use moaning.
It's the voice that gets me. Every time. Sacred. Profane. My father and uncles, all plumbers and cockies. I was in Otahuhu the other week. Thought of you. Drove over the bridge on Massey Rd. Piles of containers and the railway workshops. God, it was ugly - solid, robust and grim. I think of you whenever I pass, somewhere there, singing it into songs, a sort of dreaming. Making us beautiful. Hell! We owe you.
We owe you, man. I was back home last week as well. Should've stopped by but I didn't. Met a joker who reminded me of you. Strung the lights through Victoria tunnel when he was younger. Did things, you know. Made stuff. Worked with men and the earth. Big old rubbery moosh and the light coming off it. Cherubic. An old, black-faced Christ. He had the same sense of wonder. A gift, I suppose. We take it for granted. You wrote it.
It's a bit hard opening up this book of yours again. Like plunging my hand into the coffin. You're ripe again. I can't read a thing. You're too bloody noisy. The poems mutter. I can hear them. Whispering. Intoned and moaned. Hung and sung. I think you wanted us to feel. Find our own songs. Our own stories. Our own sighing at the near and far of it all.
You loved us. Couldn't wait to be shot of us in the end, of course. The betrayal of your body. The constant interruptions. And the veneration stuff. But you did love us. No doubt. Oyster-sucking, lip-smacking love too. You understood response. Shook with it. Shook your head at it. You were for aroha, brother. Soppy as! Aroha. Trying to get us to get it. To get our arms around it. It was your muse. It was your method. No compromise. Down with the ship.
I'm good. Still bashing away, wondering when the bow will strike in the middle of the night and what I'll do when it does. Thought I was doing okay till I heard you all over again showing me how to love us properly.
Ka mihi, e hoa. I love the book. Feels good in the hand. Has heft. I bow my head.
I miss you, brother. I miss you. A hole in the side. Sea everywhere. You chuckling at the helm. Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh!
Glenn Colquhoun is an Otaki-based poet and doctor who was a great mate of Hone Tuwhare.