North of Long Bay
pohutukawas perch on the cliffs.
Their roots dangle,
exposed by years of wind and rain.
Below, bone branches,
white on the rocks,
bare broken testimony,
to the inevitable fall.
They didn't plan to cling on the edge.
The ground shifted.
What seemed safe and certain,
Further north the cliffs subside to
where two survivors sprawl on the sand.
Their sights weren't set so high.
The bank they trusted, let them down
more gently in its collapse.
Their gnarled limbs have been tamed
by countless young riders.
Their leaves have shaded picnic parties
from the summer sun
and lovers from the prying moon.
Some branches, killed by sea-salt,
claw the sky with crooked hands,
but roots tenaciously
twist back into the sustaining soil,
and dying slowly,
tide by tide,
they still celebrate each Christmas
with a festive rush of red.
Andrew Charles Dallaston