an extract from ‘Matakaea : of sea and stone’

Bernadette Hall  2014

as for the ship-wrecked sailors

they punched holes in zinc with a hammer and a nail and so wrote down
their names and the name of their ship and the date of her sinking

they hardened points of karaka wood in the fire to make a meat hook
for smoking mollymawk and fulmar and penguin and seal meat
they never let the fire go out (they had 20 matches)


Thin water fans out like roots through the sinking sand. How deep?
Too late to think about that. Her boot sticks. She wrenches it out.
Not all that deep. But good to clamber up onto the gravel mound,
to stand there, the sea tilting in around her. The big heavy swells,
the jumpy little breaks as the wavelets turn, running out of steam,
each bright peak splashing and leaping, the way the painted horses\
jumped up and out and down on the carousel at the bottom of the steps
in Montmartre. The little wavy horses running back now to the sea.


there’s a log washed up on the beach and someone, a child perhaps, has stuck
slim stones into the splits in the timber … there are shags flying low over the water,
a pied oyster catcher is calling pipit pipit, pipit, a tern is wheeling like an axehead,
showing off its white brilliance (how simply KM would write the finer details)
and I’m thinking about the thinking of the maker, the one who set the stones here,
the tall ones at the front, the short ones behind, each stone turned in the hand,
weighed in the hand and inserted into the log, the impulse behind that simple pleasure.