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Guide

A poem by Ashleigh Young in response to Colin McCahon’s <EM>Walk (Series C)</EM>


<P>This poem, recorded on 15 March 2014, is part of the Walk with Me: McCahon Series of events at Te Papa. Colin McCahon is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated artists. His sweeping multi-canvas work <EM>Walk (Series C)</EM> (1973) is, in part, an imagined walk along Muriwai beach with the New Zealand poet James K Baxter. Te Papa invited poet, artist, and curator Gregory O’Brien to select eight poets to write poems inspired by McCahon’s work: Bill Manhire, Dinah Hawken, Hinemoana Baker, Ashleigh Young, James Brown, Vincent O'Sullivan, John Pule, and Paula Green.</P> <P><BR><STRONG>Guide</STRONG></P> <P>If a man picks up a branch that for years was a tall ship<BR>and drags it into the sea, where it bobs uncertainly<BR>then rights itself and rides away, he is our enemy.</P> <P>If fresh water streams between two rocks, that is called paradise.<BR>If a dark shape moves inside of a wave, that is a mysterious creature.</P> <P>If a girl jumps off a high rock, even with knees bent diligently, <BR>her legs will explode like two sticks of dynamite.<BR>If she poses on the high rock, she is a Pania statuette, with a light bulb<BR>coming out of her head.</P> <P>If a boy walks to the top of the waterfall, he must come down it<BR>in a tyre and climb out doing the victory clasp<BR>for as long as the victory merits.</P> <P>If you set out to find the river mouth, the others will slough away<BR>until only you are walking. At night the head grows leaden<BR>with the unconscious, the way a sky becomes ‘leaden with clouds’.</P> <P>If a girl is lost, someone will walk a long way to get her.<BR>If her hand is held all the way back, it will be a short walk. </P> <P>A person will spend time looking out to sea as if it were<BR>a vehicle rusting in a field</P> <P>as other people’s dogs whip around them in happy confusion&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <BR>their coats the colour of ventifacts.</P> <P>If a waterfall no longer has water, it is a groove<BR>that suggests a falling motion, just as this trail<BR>suggests a walking motion</P> <P>but if a person keeps walking until there is no more walk to take<BR>they will no longer look forward to it, so will turn back.</P> <P><BR>© Ashleigh Young<BR></P>

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Ashleigh Young reading at the McCahon Series: Poetry Reading. Photograph by Michael Hall, Te Papa, 2014

Ashleigh Young reading at the McCahon Series: Poetry Reading. Photograph by Michael Hall, Te Papa, 2014