The brown river, te taniwha, flows on
Between his banks—he could even be on my side,
I suspect, if there is a side—there are still notches worn
In the cliffs downstream where they used to shove
The big canoes up; and just last week some men
Floated a ridge-pole down from an old pa
For the museum—he can also be
A brutal lover; they say he sucked under
A young girl once, and the place at the river-bend is named
After her tears—I accept that—I wait for
The taniwha in the heart to rise—when will that happen?
Is He dead or alive? A car goes by on the road
With an enormous slogan advertising
Rides for tourists on the jetboat at Pipiriki.
© James K. Baxter