Broken Light

Remember the street
light I broke with a fluke
from my shanghai? You had me

upstairs in a flash
pants round my thin ankles
paddling my raw bum.

I can see the view
from your bedroom
window out over the buffalo

grass where we flew
kites across the broad
grey sea to Tiri Tiri

Whangaparoa and beyond
before I closed my eyes
to it all and hitched south.

Last night we cast your ashes
on the buffalo hill. Flash
apartments stare out where

once our tall house swayed
through the cold evenings.
New lamps burn in the street.

Nick Williamson grew up in Takapuna on the North Shore of Auckland. He has lived most of his adult life in Christchurch, where he works as a probation officer. His first book of poetry, The Whole Forest, was published by Sudden Valley Press in 2001.

Of “Broken Light” Williamson says: “In the mid-90s I was drawn to write about my childhood at Takapuna and my relationship with my father. We lived in an old house, several stories high, that was near the cliff just south of Takapuna Beach. The foundations needed re-blocking and as a consequence the upper story swayed alarmingly when strong winds blew in from the Hauraki Gulf. The house was demolished soon after we left it in the late 60s. The poem is based on an actual incident, when I broke a street light with a shot from a home-made catapult. Buffalo grass is a coarse grass that grows in the north of New Zealand.”

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New Zealand Book Council writer file