Poem: Halfway ‘cross the Kaimais

We watched the steam rise from our socks,
wet from streams and puddles that crossed our path,
and behind that, sparks from the ti tree wood
as it burned in a temporary hearth.

When the creek water boiled in the enamel billy,
someone made Milo to share around.
We settled our backs against our sleeping bags,
and stretched our legs out on the ground.

When the chatter quieted, as we all grew tired,
and morepork calls echoed over the hills,
a man started reciting a Barry Crump poem,
in a voice that gave me chills.

He spoke of the bush, and of being alone,
and of living off the land.
He spoke of New Zealand and the sights he’d seen,
and of working as a shearing hand.

As his voice carried low in the night time air,
and we listened intent and rapt,
he spoke of hunting deer and pigs,
and of possums that he’d trapped.

It was a life that seemed a legend,
and we were caught up in his words.
Around us the bush rustled and chittered,
and we heard the cry of kiwi birds.

It was magic that night, in front of the fire,
listening to a poem that seemed old as time,
eyes closed, and muscles weary
from a long and hard day’s climb.

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