Otago Gold

Take the train. This one departs
for nowhere in particular promising
to return. It’s a matter of time
keeping to this schedule we’re in
for plunging rocklines, rails that
etch themselves round grasping
verticals big as countries, tunnels that
thread would struggle through.
The carriages have those platforms
each end lovers meet on, or villains
exit backwards to their deserts.
We hang on with cameras, safe
from either, taking in the loco’s
chirping diesel, the clicking wheels,
the squealing track. A widescreen
journey, made each day since
men cut the line. The river ripped
the gorge, exposed the fleckered
ore, brought fever – greed exposed
the land to eyes hungry for wealth
now gone we now inherit. And
scale returns, the townships
fallen, consumed by poverty and dust.
Only the train persists, a final
artifact of life in photographs,
a journey through a gorge where
water fast conceals imported trout,
where glittered sunlight in the
pools, on littered eager flecks.
No longer need – the line stops,
brinking the edge of land that
only giants could have made.
Massed grasses whisper on hills
that rise and fall forever. Wherever
looked it spells Otago gold.

One thought on “Otago Gold

  1. The shortish lines as well as the evocative imagery give the reader a vivid sense of the vertiginous nature of the landscape, and the helter-skelter nature of the gold rush.


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