This stone collection continues to be perfectly preserved, because it is embedded into concrete steps that my father made.
Some years ago, with the help of family, we were able to transport the steps from the ruins of my early-childhood home in Orepuki, Southland, to our garden here in Dunedin, Otago; a provincial shift for the steps and a distance of about 240 kilometres (150 miles).
Wrapped around this stone,
petrified bandages of flax-green,
frozen fronds of claret-coloured flame,
as if the stone has fixed images
of a time when it was molten
and could make its own way,
a formless mass, un-weathered
until over time it has cooled
into rock then wheel-barrowed
by rivers that flow
from the (aptly-named)
rolled, sucked until glassy,
and spat from the mouth
of Taunau Creek
on to the beach at Orepuki.
There my father found it, added it
to his gemstone collection and waited
until one Saturday, appointed by perfect
weather conditions; drizzly grey;
he placed it as carefully
as his calloused farmer hands could,
into the slop of wet concrete
shovelled from the belly of a mixer.
Years ago we shifted the double-steps
my father had fixed the stone to,
into our garden (one step breaking off
in the process). Today I seek it out,
regard again its scarab shape, rub
with my fingertips the wafting flax,
streaming lava imprinted on this stone
that lies on a broken step that leads to nowhere.
Kay McKenzie Cooke