Port, Dogtown, Koputai, names good and ill,
you look outward to oceans, waiting for the world.
Cruise liners and log boats snuggle your wharves.
A thousand trunks of Pinus Radiata are matchsticks
piled before your crow’s nest lookout,
the channel a blue stripe down ruffled green fur.
Ships glide through the throat of the harbour,
models inserted into the glass bottle of summer.
Nudged under the crook of cliffs, a camel hump
scattered with draughty villas and stone churches,
where wharfies in orange overalls pop in
for a flash coffee, or pie from the dairy.
From ships we live, proclaims your bronze plaque:
and now in place of wool and frozen mutton
are megacubits of golden butter,
and the determined tramp of tracksuited pensioners
embarking from the Princess of the Seas.
Steam curls in fluffy ventings from the flanks
of your looming woodchip mountains,
while the permanent hum of industry pervades you,
wasp yellow diggers growling across yards,
lanky straddles speed-looping the terminal with boxes
to stack and stow in perpendicular precision.
When I was twenty, buzzed on magic mushrooms,
we walked around the fence to Back Beach,
watching giant machines in shadowless glare,
feeling the subterranean drumming
of a goods train clambering through your tunnel.
Now a bark and a cough as monster trucks change down
on George Street, where crusty old hands
mix with tryhard metropolitan newbies, and cultural tourists
wandering the retro boutiques and studios
where bohemians assemble in creative endeavour.
The grey page of evening is inscribed
by the querulous drone of free noise guitar improv,
the demented squawk of a feral rooster,
and the clink of beer bottles from the rugby clubrooms.
The channel lights wink the way home
in a cheery salute of green and red.