Summer Storm

Hills and trees
Dissolve and disappear
Into the rain
From close and curious clouds
That lean across our shoulders
As we run for shelter,
Crouched against the wind
Only to find
That even behind closed doors
We have not quite outpaced the storm,
But face a sudden
And more furious frenzy
In the taste
Of bodies braced
Against the shock
Of rain-cold kisses,
Turning suddenly to fire.

Peggy Dunstan

Poetry Home Page

Peggy Dunstan is a year or two older than I am. I met her briefly in the 1970's when she read her work with Alistair Paterson in the Manurewa library. I sometimes wonder whether she looks back at her younger poems and recognises the woman who experienced emotions so intensely.

PS Some years ago, Peggy was visiting her daughter and, not having a computer of her own, was enjoying playing with her daughter's. She googled her name - as one does - and wound up at this page. An email arrived in my inbox shortly afterwards, with the brief message: "Yes, she does!



Enclosed in a letter from Farewell Spit
Curved slightly from your hand's warmth
and its paper pressing,
pale winter gold bursts suddenly into
a million suns
and in an instant
it has all begun again.
There is the sweet burned scent of honey
wild upon the wind,
the bright immediate air loud with the cry of gulls
that fold and fall
over and against the blue security of sea
and sky,
sand running straight
the landward margin burning summer fires
where Day rained gold upon our close-together
lost dreams and years dissolved
and there instead
the honey of your mouth
the sharp outline of patterned leaves
against wide skies,
a dazzled sun
and the reflected lupin candles burning
in your eyes.
It may be long
before we listen to that song again,
Time has pickpocketed those smiling hours
and stolen our bodies' imprint
from the iron-hot sand
with this scent of honey,
I remember seedpods cracking in the sun
and hold a thousand summers in my hand.

Peggy Dunstan


Lupins have been planted in many coastal areas in New Zealand as part of a programme to stabilise sand dunes. As children at the beach, we built ourselves elaborate rat-run tunnels through the lupins on the neighbouring sections. Farewell Spit is at the northern tip of the South Island.