Friday, April 15, 2011



They laid you in an open coffin
Said its good to view the body
Helps you with your grief
Maori brother in law said it was unusual
To find Maori custom in a Pakeha way

As if seeing a ghost my son recoiled
When first he saw his Grandma lying there
New customs can take some time
To colonise the brain

Watching you from afar expecting you to rise
Like Lazarus from the dead
Once more you were the matriarchal centre
Holding those willingly within your orbit one
Last time but in no fit state
To take up your bed and walk

Moving closer I held your cold hands and kissed
Your forehead, but you were not there
This cast off shell, this husk,
This silent hollow bell was not you
Friend, you had gone: a voyage I could not follow

Tears, pain and loss do scar the grieving heart
But this witness brings a certainty
And leaving is a compass needle pointing to
Arrival on a new and different shore.

Later outside in the soft dark embrace of night
Under high stars I heard far off a Morepork call
Amongst the singing cicadas and waves lapping
On a beach so far away.

- Alden


Dan Gurney said...

Wow. A powerful expression here, Alden. May you be well. Does this poem describe a recent event?

Alden Smith said...

Hi Dan. No, it only describes recent events that have been arising from my subconscious. My belief is that when this happens it is important to act on what you think this is saying to you, or to acknowledge the event in some way. My way of dealing with this was to write a poem. I then felt moved to share it.

Katherine said...

What a lovely poem. And what a great way to deal with things.

Alden Smith said...

Thankyou Katherine - I enjoyed the creative process of writing it very much.

Ben said...


Alden Smith said...

Ben - you may be interested to know that a 'Morepork' is a native NZ owl - which you often hear at night. Maori culture states that the sound of a Morepork calling is tied up with the passing of a soul into the infinite spiritual night.

Alden Smith said...

More to the point regarding the Morepork or "Ruru":

"It is hardly surprising that, in Maori mythology, Ruru which hunts by night on silent wings and has a melancholy hooting call, is associated with the spirit world. In fact the special ancestral spirit of a family group is thought to take the form of Ruru. Known as Hine–ruru, the “owl woman”, Maori traditionally believed that these owl guardians had the power to, protect, warn and advise. According to such beliefs, the presence of a morepork sitting in a conspicuous place nearby, knocking on a window or even entering the house signifies a death the family while the high piercing call of the morepork is thought to herald bad news and the ordinary call to indicate good news on the way"

Ben said...

Alden, thank you for explaining. I admit that I did not understand all the words. I felt it was a wonderful strong way of expressing your mourning.