Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Reg Lee


In black and white photos
I see you standing
always alongside others:
in the Dairy Factory photo,
your sleeves rolled up, beside
the rugby players you coached,
with your brothers, Stan and Aubrey,
with the Fours Champs,
and see yes, you really were short.

But strong. A worker.
On the Rabbit Board
- a grafter, with the Ministry of Works
yielding a shovel on the shingle
of Highway 99's pot-holes.
You and your Plymouth
that needed cranking to start
so that you and your family
were always the last to leave

the dances where as m.c.
your roll-your-own voice
made everyone feel good.
That fragrant, tobacco
smell of you, your voice
and crackling laugh
calling to your grandchildren.
Singing to us, 'Found a Peanut'.
And with a push-mower's

clack, making smooth, deep
lawns we could sink into
to smell worm casts and hints
of what could be underneath
firing inside the planet
that turns and turns
you away. Gone now
forty years. After you died
so did our supply of muttonbirds.

You were Reg Lee,
the part-Maori fella,
the good sort,
who always wore a hat,
cut the kindling,
shovelled coal on to the fire.
You were a baby
delivered by your Aunt Bell,
one hundred and five years ago.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

8 comments:

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Firing inside the planet that turns and turns you away

you are a poetic genius!

Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

Thanks Joyce - how kind, but I fear untrue!

richardg said...

I agree with Joyce and am quickly becoming addicted to the images you capture of people and places from the past.especially liked
"his roll you own voice". Keep it up.

Catherine said...

You really make people come alive in your poems, both in this one and the previous one about your granddaughter.

McDinzie said...

ah...I like this one...things I knew only vaguely about granddad...you remember the Orepuki granddad and I remember the Gore one :-)

Claire Beynon said...

You really are a portrait artist, dear Kay - no matter whether you're drawing man, woman, child, bird, tree, the edge of the sea or a South Island landscape.

There are so many rich and unexpected textures here.
L, C

dinzie said...

I wish I'd met him ,,,,,

d

Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

richardg -Thank you - I seem to be permanently living in the past these days - it can't be healthy!

Catherine - A lovely compliment, thank you.

McD - That's right - and I've been doing this bio of his so the earlier memories were the ones I was focussing on as my memory of that time are stronger (I think after Dad died & we moved to Gore, I went into a bit of a blank state and a lot passed me by ...)

Claire - Thanks so much. I am pleased you see my work like that, it's what I am trying to do I guess.

Dinzie - You would have liked him very much, I'm sure of that.

Harbour

Harbour
'how this all harbours light'