Aural portrait of Cable Road


(New sounds I’ve heard in the last year)

Canada geese squabbling on the dam
The two-syllable morepork in the bush next door
Bleating spring lambs
The skitter of gravel as I turn into the driveway
Nick and Debbie’s donkeys braying hee haw, hee haw
the end of the world is nigh
Someone knocking on the sticky
ranch-slider at 9 pm

Boots on the back deck
The unholy racket of Kevin’s weed-eater,
the din of the ride-on
The squelch and suck of startled hooves
in a wet paddock at 3 am
A tui’s wings rustling like paper
Leaves parting as birds feed on the karo’s nectar
The rhythmic click of the electric fencing unit

Various rattles and squeaks—Andrew’s ute starting up
Lynne’s phone ringing over the back fence
The beep beep of her daughter’s car alarm
Steve’s teenage girls partying after exams
The wind the wind the wind, mostly in the west
—channelled up the valley from Muriwai beach
The Tasman Sea on a still night, like the breath
of a sleeper—rhythmic and steady

Jane’s baby Thomas having a bath
A falsetto whinny—Smooch calling out to
another horse on the beach
The clink of spoons—Diana and Derek
eating muesli in their room
Jan calling the Appaloosas
The erratic percussion of the house
in a force ten gale

The farmer shooting a cow in Muriwai Valley Road
The insect whine of bikes in Woodhill Forest
Neil’s demented schnauzer chasing the car
on Hinau Road
A two dollar coin dropping into the honesty box
at the roadside flower stall
The pump coming on under my bedroom floor
Water dripping into the concrete tank when it rains

Wind coming from a great distance,
gathering force like an oncoming train
The mournful whistle of a freight train
on the Kumeu line
The cat with a bird under the bed
A metallic screech that sounds like rage—cockatoos
in the dead gum tree
A Boeing 747 on its way to Australia.


Virginia Were is an award-winning poet, short fiction writer and journalist who lives at Muriwai, Auckland. She has written two books of poems and stories—Juliet Bravo Juliet (1989) and Jump Start (1999)—and her work has appeared in many literary journals and major anthologies of New Zealand writing. She is editor of the quarterly magazine Art News New Zealand.