From Talking Pictures by Riemke Ensing


The son is named after his mother's
father. Theo for short. Gift from God. His
sons carry the respective names of
grand and great-grand fathers. Men
are important.
Hendrik Joseph
Theodorus Dirk
One way of keeping close
to family we'll never see again
except in photographs. Two
for Calvin, one Catholic
and a communist who rolled ball-bearings
down the street during union strikes. He lost
an eye on a wharf loading timber and didn't
smile much. Our son too bears the weight
of history. Generations of settlement
here and elsewhere across oceans/all leaving
their small stories on the postage stamp
landscape of our existence. All scattered
and gone / on journeys into pages
of mythology.
The younger branch opts for modernity.
They are not migrants.
They name their children after clowns, gods,
a Russian princess counting pence
in Woolworths after the Revolution. Anything
not to hear those schmaltzy songs
expatriates might sing, hand over bleeding
heart in postures of melancholy. Everything
to avoid the pain of past / images of eyes
asking too many questions/arms raised
in wavering

Hokianga Love Song

In the hollowed trunk of the puriri tree
wild bees have made honey. They hum
songs in the vault of shining leaves and drink
from flowers sensuous in the green dark.
We too have had our fill of nectar and watch
light crochet moving patterns of shade
through branches making wide verandahs. We lie
remembering how houses grew from local timbers
(Kauri mostly, Agathis Australis with totara
for blocks) and the wind blew from up harbour
light as your encircling arms in this summer grass
tousled blond by sun licking its warm tongue
across our bodies salt with the sea where the taniwha
lives behind rocks wreathed in swirls of kelp. We
follow the tumbling drift of curves coming and going
and coming together again as lovers on tides undisturbed
by gulls, and in that turbulence our bodies are solemn
as hills that shape with the burden of stories older
than ancient weeping wiata and the naming of past
under the light blue winking leaves of sky.

© Riemke Ensing