Elinor Benedict



Poronui Fishing Ranch, New Zealand


From the meadow pool we watch

the helicopter come and go, carrying

from lodge to more distant streams

other couples in leather and canvas

who pay dearly to catch rare trout

none of us will keep.

The land rolls out

its green carpet, checkered with tree farms,

threaded with rivers and wooly fields

that Kiwi people call the bush, where

bees hum in white tamuka blooms

to make a honey so fine that

hospitals here swear by

its healing.

But how long will it take

even in this valley of pleasure to hear

a chopper's blasting rattle without

seeing fire, red gape of wounds,

desperate hurry, life wasting?

Even here, sounds and images

of war endure.

I stop untangling my line                                                

from tamuka, drop my rod and hold

my ears against the noise, trying to

think instead of luckiness—old age

escorting my husband and me

with all honeyed comfort and delay

to a death just as certain as the one

that casts war's helicopters

into air, fishing for men.