Champion Runner


Phar Lap              do you ever get restless?
do your impressive legs still long
for speed?

O noble steed                    here     in the strange    space by the elevators
partially obscured by a pillar        bones so            creamy
mythically incomplete body          suspended
in the half-light

Your legacy         the required knowledge
of primary-school aged children—             a forward momentum
unmatched against global records             we were so proud
and then:
the disgrace
of your most untimely demise                     enough poison     to kill a horse
followed by the ceremonial division of parts—

segmented         into equal          equine particles
shared                 across seas
trans-Tasman bonds never stronger

We got your bones                        the best bit        my teacher reckoned
your hide went to Melbourne / your improbably enormous heart, to Canberra

and in       Timaru             birthplace to you             and of my father also
a bronze monument erected—
the highest honour we know how to give

We mourned and mourned
the flag at half-mast for
our fastest, brightest horse of all



(after Bill Hammond) 


your birds have gone south. 
They pulled up the mountains 
with their formidable forearms,  
picked up the smaller volcanic cones, 
bushels of rātā and mānuka  
and took off. Just like that, our painted  
landscape is again laid bare, no more 
muscular lunging across gulleys 
or the arc of a biblical wing  
to scoop us up and point us  
towards home.  
They left behind only the dark spaces 
overhung with lichen 
and small deposits of bones, 
shells cleaned of any meat, 
lakes frozen over 
with clasps of eels still inside them. 
No signal heralded their departure— 
no note was left. 
Not a song could be heard for miles.  


Loretta is an artist and writer, based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington. You can read their poems in issues of takahē, Sweet Mammalian, Starling, Minarets, Overcom, and Mayhem Journal. They are a facilitator at play_station artist-run space.