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A South Island Night’s EntertainmentAllen Curnow
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Vol. 16 No. 13 · 7 July 1994
Poem

A South Island Night’s Entertainment

Allen Curnow

252 words

Somebody mistook
the day, or how

will we have found
ourselves denied

entry, by chained
gate, padlocked

bolted door of an
empty dark shed

of a hall, miles
from the next town-

ship, as many from
the last lit lamp?

The night itself
unpunctuated,

no Southern Cross,
no Pointers, no

cartwheeling, hand-
standing giant

Orion, aka
Urine (born cauled

in a sacrificial
Boeotian cow’s

pelt, pissed in by
no fewer than three

grateful gods) no
moon. Heavy cloud.

This my ninth year
under them all gets

darker by the minute.
What’s visible here?

Not the crab tropic’s
maidenliest stars

twinkle-twinkling
on my grandmother’s

East Anglian
wedding night, swapped

now, for a sphere
beyond the circuit

of the shuddering Bear.
Eastward our austral

Pacific sands,
our high snows west-

ward. Our meridian
threads a chained gate

which brings us up
all standing, my father,

my mother, her
mother, and me.

Shut out. Wrong day.
Wrong side of the screen

where the New Age
was to have unreeled

itself, stormed this
barn in drizzling light.

Unreeled the fat
man’s quaking back-

firing automobile.
Silent. His arse-

over-kite exit.
Silent. The Metro

Goldwyn lion’s jaws
parted. A World

War One great gun
discharged. Silent.

A cloud that was
the city. A painted

scream. Silent, only
for the lady playing

‘Rustle of Spring’
in an empty dark

shed of a hall.
Nobody comes.

Only our feet go
crunch-crunch in and out

of step as they fall,
all the way home.

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