things have changed

Storm still. I cannot find my crocodile letter opener or my black-handled scissors. Can do without one, not the other; can replace the other, not the one. My kids can't get through, there's trees across the line at Wondabyne. Feels strange, this space and time I keep open for them, empty ... except for me. Storm still. A ship aground at Nobby's Beach, a chasm at Somersby has swallowed five people, power out on the Central Coast, kids can't get through. Maybe they hid the scissors and the letter opener, it's the sort of thing they might do. Maybe I hid them. One once pretended to be about to cut my throat from behind with the tail of the crocodile, sharp enough to draw blood. Storm still. I'm looking at pictures of the Makatote Viaduct, among them is this

mysterious image in the State Library of Victoria, Ruapehu from Makatote Viaduct it's captioned, the library requests more information should anyone have any. It's one of a series of railway postcards from the early 1900s, there's lots of them on the web, what more can you say? Storm still. It must be because of this weather that I'm back in the King Country, it's like this a lot of the time there. What is that shape in the sky? In the lovely soft saddle between Paretetaitonga and Ruapehu proper? Like some mechanical ghost or outre ski lift. Pylon or poltergeist.

The last few days I've been obsessed with a song, running it over and over in my head, guess who wrote it, one of the verses starts out: I've been walking forty miles of bad road / If the bible is right the world will explode / I've been trying to get as far away from myself as I can ... This place is too small to lose things in, only three rooms not counting the kitchen and bathroom, how could you lose anything here? I take the sofa and the two armchairs apart, am rewarded with three dollars and a lot of unidentifiable muck I don't want to identify. No crocodile, no scissors. Storm still.

My kids ring up, one says it's a doomsday day, sounding quite cheerful about it, the other says, it's a bad day, sounding doomed. Trees fell on their school. The waves on the beach, just down the end of their road, are six metres high. On the plus side, they've built a radio out of a game they got in NZ years ago now. They're listening to SeaFM by candlelight, by firelight. The power might come back on tomorrow, they're a little bit freaked out by it, no TV, no stove, no electric light. I don't ask them about the crocodile or the scissors, they wouldn't understand.

Storm still, I should stop writing that, it's getting boring. Finally I find the scissors at the back of the spoon drawer. The crocodile ... I don't know. Crocodiles are unusual, their embryos don't have sex chromosomes, gender is determined by temperature, males are produced at around 31.6 degrees celsius, females at slightly lower and higher temperatures. Does this mean boy crocs are steady but the girls either hot or cool? Or both at once? Lorca's The King of Harlem begins: With a spoon / he gouged out the crocodile's eyes / and thumped on the monkey-rumps / with a spoon ... but the crocodile is not in the spoon drawer and why would s/he be? And I don't have any letters that need opening either.

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