Five hundred feet from the lakebed
John Macfarlane sat
With a bottle and a transistor
In the shepherds hut,
With a collie and a rifle
And heard as the night came on
The wind blow through the tussock
And the water-course pour down
For a fifty-year-old shepherd
A fire of matagouri
Whisky, dog and radio,
Were too much company,
Or so it looked. The music spun
Like a rattle of dry bones
(It could have been the Beatles
Or perhaps the Rolling Stones)
And suddenly Macfarlane knocked
The noise box to the floor,
Trampled it, and kicked [it]
Clean out the open door,
Finished the fourteenth bottle
And let the empty roll
And went to get another
From the case beside the wall
But in the open doorway
A naked woman stood
With her long hair wrapped around her
And a keas’s eye in her head.
The collie growled. Macfarlane grabbed
The rifle from his coat –
“Stand back,” he said ‘I’ll have
No woman in this hut’.
‘Oh John,’ she answered,
You’re making a mistake.
I find it lonely lying
On the bare stones of the lake;
‘Even a water goddess
Gets tired of eels and gulls,
I need a man to comfort me
And take away the chills
‘When a boy came here from the Tourist Bureau
I raised a flood for him;
I dug him out of his camera van
But the poor stick could not swim.
‘Then a man of the Ngati-Awa
Drove his tractor down my shore.
But he fell for a blonde at the Pembroke pub
And I saw his face no more.
‘But when you broke the noise-box
I knew I found the man
To appreciate a woman
Who belongs to the water clan.
‘You’re strong enough to lie with me
And grip the natural truth;
I like the stubble round your jaws,
I like your whisky breath.’
She took one step across the room;
The old dog howled in dread.
Macfarlane raised the gun and put
A bullet through her head.
One angry cry rang out, and then
The wind slammed tight the door
And there was nothing in the hut
But lake weed on the floor,
And while the shepherd lay dead drunk
The floor-boards gushed out rills
From the water-course that broke its banks
From a cloud burst in the hills,
And the next day John Macfarlane
On the lakeshore with no shirt
Frowned at the sun, his hair an beard
Loaded with shingle dirt.