A poem from Pat White’s Watching for the Wingbeat: new and selected poems


There’s much more going on here

for Hone Tuwhare


From where we sat talking the hills take on a painter’s

tone, light and dark, valley and ridge, bush at night

with the small owl sounding far enough away. Both of us

a bit deaf, we shout observations across the back porch


two old gramophones not quite used to listening. Today

stumbling across that ridge, half-lit seen at dusk last night

it’s different, each step testing mud-slide sheep track

fallen trees, such subtle geomorphology, rough slopes facing


north, telling how little distant perspective gets to know

of that hare bursting from beside your foot, fooling

with your sharp-eyed observations about literature

of landscape borrowed from an unpaid library book.


Old Bess the bitch would have given chase once, but today

she thinks better of activities meant for puppied bounce

the silliness of charging off up hill when there’s perfectly

good bones back home rotting under the macrocarpa


it’s enough to be out there, reading the breeze. I watch

you stop, lay a flat hand against grass bruised and bent

by the hare’s body warmth, her form hid beside dead thistle

stalks, dry and buff coloured in winter, it is still warm.


This hare has learned to be elusive, still, till instinctive

urge to flight has her bursting away, past the skylark’s nest

through the rusting fence, pushing the heart’s capacity

to run. We romance the hills from our chairs, our beer


out of the sun’s heat, the rain’s beat, knowing

next to nothing. The risk of leaving our bones out there.


©Pat White  Watching for the Wing Beat: new and selected poems Cold Hub Press, 2018)




Pat White is a writer and artist living near Fairlie. He has an MFA from Massey University, and an MA in Creative Writing from IIML Victoria University. In August 2018 Roger Hickin’s Cold Hub Press published Watching for the Wingbeat; new & selected poems. In 2017 his biography/memoir of the teacher, author, environmentalist, Notes from the margins, the West Coast’s Peter Hooper, was published. An exhibition Gallipoli; in search of family story has been shown in museums and art galleries a number of times in recent years.


Cold Hub Press page

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