I met a stranger — eighty-five years old
and some relation.
I’m past it, he said, when questioned on
From that hard and bitter childhood he
gave up just one memory.
Wild cattle emerging from the bush
his unlamented father and neighbours
shooting as many as they could.
The beef was home salted, and in the end
the boy abhorred the taste.
No eloquence in his telling, yet power
of incident from a seven-year-old’s
drudgery; the feral beasts, kauri forest
the loud slaughter, and isolated people.
The singularity of it, and a distanced
The farm’s back to bush, no family there
Just wide-eyed cattle in the shadows.
Image © Grahame Sydney, 2018